Deadly heat wave in Japan renews concerns for 2020 Summer Olympics

Olympics Tokyo heat concerns
A worker sprays water over sand to cool it down July 26 during a test event at Shiokaze Park, a venue for beach volleyball at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

A heat wave that reportedly killed at least 11 people and sent thousands more to hospitals in Japan last week has renewed concerns about conditions during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics next summer.

Government officials are blaming a sudden rise in temperatures following the end of the rainy season, the Kyodo News reported. Of the 5,664 who sought treatment, slightly more than half were 65 or older.

The Games will take place in late July and early August, a period that can be particularly sweltering. Last year, heat caused the government to declare a natural disaster.

“We observed the highest temperatures recorded in many cities across the country,” Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya said during an interview at organizing committee headquarters earlier this month. “We are not optimistic about the summer weather in Tokyo at all.”

Organizers are collaborating with government agencies and corporate sponsors on a “cooling project” that will seek countermeasures to promote “the comfort and safety of athletes, spectators, officials and volunteers.”


“We haven’t been able to announce the details of the plan yet, but each company has its own unique way to contribute to heat issues,” Takaya said. “Like, a sweets company would be able to supply ice cream. Or a pharmaceutical company would be able to provide cooling pads.”

In other Olympic news, Tokyo 2020 released its schedule for boxing, a sport that Olympic leaders had considered dropping amid ongoing controversy.

The International Olympic Committee has suspended the sport’s governing federation and appointed a task force to oversee next summer’s tournament.

Men’s and women’s boxing is scheduled to take place from July 25 through Aug. 9 at the Kokugikan Arena.