Concerns related to Covid epidemic and scorching heat of Japan, together will increase players’ troubles
The Olympic Games have started from today. This time the Olympiad is special because, for the first time in the history of the Olympics, these games have been postponed not because of any war but because of an epidemic. The year 2020 Tokyo Olympics was postponed three times (1916, 1940, 1944) before being postponed due to Kovid and the reason for the postponement was always some global battle.
But if seen, the XXXII Olympiad has also been postponed due to war. But this time the battle is not only with the Kovid epidemic but also with the weather. Days before the start of the Olympic Games, heat and humidity levels hit peak levels in Tokyo this week, prompting Japan’s Environment Agency to issue a heat stroke alert.
Athletes from all over the world come to the Olympics and for all of them, the concern of the weather is raising their heads along with the concern of Kovid in Tokyo.
Government data from Japan shows that wet bulb globe temperatures – a measure of heat and humidity used by organizers to assess safety – reached 31.8°C. This is close to the danger limit for some sports, such as triathlon, which cannot start when WBGT levels are above 32.2 °C.
Olympic organizers say they are prepared for high temperatures intensified by climate change – but in a study compiled ahead of the Games, athletes and scientists warn that the heat and humidity could pose a significant threat to competitors.
‘Rings of Fire: How Heat Could Impact the 2021 Tokyo Olympics’ (“Rings of Fire: How Heat Could Affect the 2021 Tokyo Olympics”) How leading triathletes, rowers, tennis players, marathon runners, and athletes deal with extreme conditions Hears from scientists who advise on this. It is supported by scientists from the British Association for Sustainability in Sport (BASIS) and the Priestley International Center for Climate at the University of Leeds and the Extreme Environment Laboratory at the University of Portsmouth.
Responding to this development, Dr. Jonathan Boozan, Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research at the Institute of Physics, University of Bern, said, “Tokyo is not oblivious to high levels of heat and humidity, and With climate change, I hope that all Olympians participating in the Games come prepared to compete in these conditions. They will find it difficult, and endurance athletes will know that it will affect their performance in these Games. The main health focus of Japan has been on the COVID outbreak, but organizers must show a duty of care to athletes and ensure that events do not start in dangerous temperatures.”
As a result, marathon and cycling events have already been moved to a colder climate, but other sports could face safety checks before going ahead in July – while the IOC has been warned about rising global temperatures. As a result, there may be a need to integrate climate data into future site parameters. Images of fallen athletes at the 2019 Doha Athletics Championships are fresh in memory and organizers have already acknowledged that the heat and humidity levels in Tokyo could be a ‘nightmare’.
Further, Dr. Fahad Saeed, Scientific Models and Data Manager – Climate Analytics, says, “Japan has seen record-breaking heat waves in recent years, and we know this is due to human-driven climate change. High temperatures and Humidity is likely to put a strain on athletes’ performance, especially in outdoor sports. We know that outdoor labor at 32°C wet-bulb temperatures becomes dangerous, even fatal. Add that together, and you’re playing with serious health hazards.”
2021 is the year of major events, with the annual COP26 UN Climate Summit taking place in Glasgow, Scotland this November. All countries are expected to announce more robust targets to cut their use of oil, gas and coal – although major coal users Japan has so far resisted efforts to switch to clean fuel.
Mike Tipton, professor of human and applied physiology at the Extreme Environment Laboratory, School of Sport, Health and Exercise Science at the University of Portsmouth, says, “Olympic organizers should take the warnings in this report seriously. Otherwise, they will face a real risk of collapsing from the contestants due to exhaustion (heat exhaustion).”
Elite British rower Melissa Wilson, speaking out for the players, said, “I think we’re definitely headed for a danger zone… That’s a terrible moment when you see athletes crossing the line”, falling behind their bodies utterly tormented in exhaustion and never getting up again.”