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Scorching heat, signs of typhoon cause concern at Tokyo Olympics

Scorching heat, signs of typhoon cause concern at Tokyo Olympics

Scorching heat and the forecast of an approaching typhoon are adding to the problems at the Tokyo Olympics Games which are being held under the cloud of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report in leading Japanese daily Nikkei.

The organisers are trying to make things more bearable for athletes with extended break times in games such as hockey to enable players to recover from the exhaustion being caused by the intense heat. 

Tokyo has entered an intense stretch of summer days with high humidity and maximum temperatures of 30 C or more. 

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Tennis stars Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev, have urged organizers to shift the timing of matches to the evening for the rest of the competition so that players can escape the high mid-day temperatures.

Reuters cited Djokovic as saying the conditions were "very tough. It's very hot but also humid. The hardcourts absorb the heat, it stays trapped in there. Not much wind, not much breeze."

The International Tennis Federation to modify its rules for the Olympics. Under the new regulations, either player in a singles match can request a 10-minute break between the second and third sets if the temperature rises to a certain level.

The authorities in Tokyo had initially stated, "With many days of mild and sunny weather, this period provides an ideal climate for athletes to perform at their best." However, this not turning out to be the case. 

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In 2019, the International Olympic Committee (IOC)  decided to change the venue for the marathon from Tokyo to Sapporo in Hokkaido, which is a cooler place.  Now organizers say they are taking appropriate measures to cope with the weather by preparing abundant water and ice at the venues.

Commenting on requests to change the timings of events to cooler parts of the day, IOC sports director Kit McConnell said on Sunday that "competition schedules have been built where possible to avoid the hottest parts of the day but that is not possible with every sport."

McConnell added, "The International Tennis Federation is looking at that and we will support them in any measures they are looking at," suggesting the IOC would back changes if they are deemed necessary.

Russian archer Svetlana Gomboevahad  fainted on the field on Friday due to the unbearable heat shortly after completing the Women's Ranking Round. She had to be attended by the medical staff, according to Russia coach Stanislav Popov.

Besides the temperature issues, organizers also face a typhoon or tropical storm that is expected to hit Tokyo and the surrounding region on Tuesday. The Tokyo metropolitan area is likely to get a dose of heavy rain, strong winds and high ocean waves, the Nikkei report said.

Public broadcaster NHK reported the storm is intensifying and could bring gusts of up to 126 kilometers per hour.

As part of their countermeasures, organizers moved up rowing events to Sunday, one day earlier than initially scheduled. Some archery events planned for Tuesday were also postponed to later hours or after Wednesday.

But on Monday, Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Masanori Takaya said "at this time there are no plans to change the schedule for any of the other events due to be held on Tuesday."

"We will continue to monitor the latest weather information to ensure the safety of all those involved in the games," Takaya added.

Meanwhile organizers on Monday reported 16 new positive COVID-19 cases among Olympic personnel. Three of the 16 are athletes who have not been in the Olympic Village. That brings the total since July 1 to 148.