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Japan heat wave
Image: picture alliance/AP Photo/K. Sasahara

Heat wave raises worries for Tokyo 2020 Olympics

July 22, 2018

As Japan swelters in boiling temperatures, the IOC has sought to allay fears that holding the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo might not be such a great idea. Several people died last week in a heat wave that is set to continue.

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During a visit to Tokyo, the head of an International Olympic Committee (IOC) inspection team, John Coates, acknowledged concerns that the heat could be a "huge challenge" for the Tokyo 2020 organizers.

"We are mindful that we do have to prepare for extreme heat," he said.

The Games are set to run from July 24 to August 9, 2020 when temperatures in central Tokyo could reach 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) and above.

Japan's Meteorological Agency has warned of more high temperatures this week and has called on people to take precautions, such as drinking more water and turning on the air conditioning.

Nine people died across Japan last week as temperature rose to 40.7C (105F) in the center of the country. Rescuers in Tokyo responded to about 3,000 emergency calls and 317 people were taken to hospitals on Wednesday alone.

How to handle the heat

The IOC's Coates said the Japanese organizers must explore all options to deal with extreme heat. 

The marathon, for example, will be held early in the morning to avoid heat, the IOC said last Wednesday.

Tetsuo Egawa, senior director of operation strategy planning for Tokyo 2020's organizing committee, told the French news agency AFP that most concern is for non-stadium sports, citing the marathon, sailing and canoeing, and golf.

"Special measures will be needed," he said.

The Japanese government and Tokyo's metropolitan government, for example, are planning to lay pavements that give off less surface heat and also to plant taller roadside trees alongside the route of the marathon.

When Tokyo last hosted the Olympics, in 1964, the Games were held in October to avoid the heat.

jbh/jm (AFP, AP)

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