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Olympics

2020 Tokyo Olympics searching for answers amid heat wave

Tokyo 2020 Triathlon
Mexico’s Cecilia Perez is helped up by officials after collapsing at the finish line during a women’s triathlon test event Aug. 15 in Tokyo.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Japan continues to face concerns about torrid weather at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics next summer, with officials cutting short a test event and looking for new ways to beat the heat.

On Thursday, the International Triathlon Union had to abbreviate the running portion of a women’s test event in the capital city as conditions reached an “extreme level.”

“There was full consensus on all parties for the decision of the ITU medical delegate and the ITU technical delegates to shorten the run distance to 5 km, considering the athletes’ health,” the federation said in a statement.

Officials cited the 90-degree temperature which — along with high humidity — is common for Tokyo at this time of year.

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The Japan Times reported that 23 people died and more than 12,000 were hospitalized for heat-related conditions in Japan during the week that ended Aug. 5.

Takeo Hirata, a Waseda University professor enlisted to help in Olympic preparations, wrote in the newspaper this week that he has focused on athlete and fan safety.

As the recovery process continues nearly a decade after the devastating 2011 Japan earthquake, organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games say they want to help Fukushima.

Roadways along the marathon course will be paved with a heat-shielding material and curbside trees will be allowed to grow larger for shade, Hirata said.

Heat alerts will be distributed by cellphone and misting devices will spray fans in the new national stadium.

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“This challenge would call on the best of Japanese expertise, innovation and imagination to bring out the best in the athletes competing in very challenging conditions,” Hirata wrote. “It would also showcase the determination and methods of the world-famous Japanese management and production styles.”

The 2020 Summer Games are scheduled to begin on July 24.


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