The headlines about challenges at the 2021 Olympics summer games have focused on the coronavirus. Though, it turns out the brutal summer heat and humidity are what’s wreaking havoc on athletes.
Even moving start times to early morning has not been a winning strategy.
A columnist with Yahoo News described the scene on Monday morning in Tokyo:
The finish line of the men’s triathlon Monday morning looked something like a battlefield scene, bodies sprawled out on ground, trainers coming to the aid of overheated athletes, even a few being helped off with their arms draped over shoulders.
No, the Japanese don’t have to apologize for the weather here — the searing sun, the sky high temps, the pea-soup humidity. No one tells Mother Nature what to do.
But as athletes continue to wilt and wither in these conditions, they do owe everyone an apology for this much: They lied like hell about it.
This is how Japanese officials described the summer weather in their pitch to host the summer games:
“With many days of mild and sunny weather, this period provides an ideal climate for athletes to perform their best.”
“I wasn’t enjoying it at all,” Yahoo News said Russian tennis player Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova said after competing Saturday in conditions that have caused everyone from archers to volunteers to officials to faint.
Ilnar Tukhbatov/Epilson/Getty Images
Daytime temperatures have been in the mid-to-upper 90s, with high humidity, and many of the venues, like volleyball and cycling, are taking place in the open air under that beating sun.
“Playing in extreme heat and humidity, it’s very challenging,” Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic said in the Yahoo News article. “It’s something we’ve known coming into Tokyo, we heard and expected the conditions would be very tough, but before you come here and experience that, you don’t really know how difficult it is.”
“These are, literally, the finest athletes in the world,” the commentary said. “When they say it’s difficult, it’s difficult. So why did the Japanese claim otherwise? And why did the International Olympic Committee, in granting the bid without comment about the conditions to come, just let them say it?”
“Japan knew it was lying,” the commentary said. “They live here.”
“I have been to Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta, Phnom Penh, and Singapore in mid-summer, and in my experience, Tokyo is the worst of them all,” author Robert Whiting wrote. “The only conceivable places that are worse would be staging the games in, say, Death Valley, California, or the Horn of Africa.”
The good news is that summer temperatures can top 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Tokyo, and that hasn’t happened yet.
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