TOPLINE The Tokyo 2020 Games are now in the path of a tropical storm, weather agencies warn, yet another threat athletes must face as they battle searing heat and a growing number Covid-19 infections, a far cry from organizers’ assurances of a “safe and secure” Games with “mild” weather.
Tropical Storm Nepartak could make landfall in Japan on Tuesday, the country’s Meteorological Agency forecast Sunday, which warned of heavy rain, strong winds and high waves.
Officials say they have no plans to reschedule other events due to the storm and on Monday said they expect it to “have limited impact on the Games.”
In addition to the impending tropical storm, athletes are also dealing with outbreaks of Covid-19 and scorching heat and humidity as the Japanese capital endures a heatwave that could make it the hottest Olympic Games on record.
Despite Organizers taking steps to mitigate the worst of Tokyo’s stifling summer, beach volleyball players complained the sand is too hot to play on, leading tennis players slammed the “brutal” conditions on court and a Russian archer collapsing during a qualifying round.
On Monday, officials said 16 more people linked to the Games had tested positive for Covid-19, including three athletes, bringing the total since July 1 to 148.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has been a major concern for organizers—leading to a year-long delay and an unprecedented Games devoid of spectators—Tokyo’s lethal combination of high heat and high humidity has been the overarching health concern for officials since before the city won its bid to host. Tokyo’s Medical Association warned that holding the games in July and August was “a serious issue even before the coronavirus pandemic” and the last time the city hosted in 1964 events took place in October after the worst of the heat had dissipated. As climate change pushes temperatures higher around the world, these issues will increase, as will disruption from storms.
Official’s touted Tokyo’s “mild” weather in the city’s successful Olympic bid. It beat out Doha, Qatar, which is due to host the FIFA 2022 World Cup in cooled statia in November due to the scorching heat. In the 2019 World Championships marathon, held in Doha, 28 out of 68 starters pulled out due to the conditions, with one runner being taken away in an ambulance. The race had started at midnight in an attempt to avoid the worst of Qatar’s heat.
Nepartak was initially forecast as a typhoon, though was downgraded to a tropical storm.
By Robert Hart, Forbes Staff