Heatstroke a Concern for Tokyo 2020 Athletes, Doctors Warn


The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are scheduled to begin on July 24th, right in the middle of the harsh Japanese summer. Plane tickets are already being purchased alongside hotel rooms from fans all over the world. The whole event is predicted to be an amazing success by most analysts and sports business experts.

However, the doctors in charge of overseeing the health of both the athletes and the spectators are issuing warnings about the health problems prolonged sun exposure can cause in the country.

Last year’s heatwave in Japan started exactly on the 24th of July, with temperatures rising above 30°C and reaching a maximum of 36°C during the first week of August. Normally, this kind of heat would be bearable for most people, especially well-trained athletes, but pairing the temperature with Japan’s humidity could create an extremely hazardous situation.

Warning field-based sports

Although the warning was directed to everybody who will be involved in the Olympics (athletes, spectators, organizers, camera crews), the doctors still mentioned that field-based sports athletes are in the most immediate danger.

When it comes to sports like running, pole jumping, hurling and various other Olympic sports that are usually done in broad daylight, we can say that they are a bit more on the safe side. The reason being that despite these sports being held in the open, they’re quite short in duration, so the athlete won’t be exposed to sunlight for too long.

But when it comes to football, we can guarantee that athletes will have to deal with some serious issues.

Considering that an average football match lasts for one hour, 50 minutes, paired up with intense cardiovascular activities, coaches will have to somehow guard their players against the risks involved.

Preparing at home

The warnings also came out earlier in 2019 as both companies and coaches started to both mentally and physically prepare their athletes.

The fans themselves were not a big help, unfortunately, especially in countries where it’s naturally much colder.

For example, some of the best online betting companies in Norway went so far as to lower the odds of their own athletes winning some games simply due to their slightly low heat tolerance. And if we look at it from a scientific standpoint, it’s pretty easy to agree that it was a good call. But in terms of the players’ morale, it must have been devastating.

Countries which are used to higher temperatures are not too active in preparing the athletes as they’re naturally more resistant to the heat. However, they will have to do something about the humidity as not too many countries match Japan’s ratings.

Preparing in Japan

The doctors’ warnings did not go unheard as the organizing teams started experimenting on different ways to cool the stadiums or at least provide some kind of relief to both the spectators and the athletes.

Plans on having more shade on the spectator’s side were introduced as well as extra cold water bottles. However, taking the heat out of the spectator or the athlete does not necessarily dissipate the heat all around them in the air. The organizers had to think of ways to cool the air in the stadiums.

Considering that they will always be full of thousands of people it was quite a tall order. But there were some innovative ideas introduced, such as fake snow or a big rotating fan. The fake snow didn’t work necessarily because it would quickly melt and just make things worse in the aftermath.

The big fan idea didn’t really get tested at all, as it was quite ridiculous.

Hopefully, the organizers will have some precautionary methods installed once the games begin, but just in case, it might be best to wear reflective clothes, have extra rations of cold water and of course some way to cool the air around you.

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