Blazing heat, tropical storm force Tokyo organizers to reschedule events
As if dealing with a pandemic wasn’t enough, the Tokyo Games are about to get hit with a tropical storm that is expected to bring heavy rains and strong gusty winds over Japan this week.
Tropical storm Nepartak isn’t expected to develop into a full-fledged typhoon before making landfall on the nation’s northeast coast Tuesday afternoon. But the storm already has affected some schedules and is expected to disrupt outdoor events on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Japan Meteorological Agency forecasts an 80 percent chance of rain on Tuesday.
The good news: Nepartak may temporarily knock down Tokyo’s sweltering temperatures, which also have been a factor during the early days of the Tokyo 2020 Games.
"There will be some sports impacted by the weather," said Tokyo Games sports director Mikako Kotani. "We are in discussions with the international federations - if they propose to change the schedule in advance, we will consider that option."
Tropical weather systems bring heavy surf. So, to take advantage of the storm’s gift of awesome waves, the medal heats for surfing will be decided 24 hours earlier than scheduled on Tuesday. The medal heats were due to be held on Wednesday, but the strong swell provided by Nepartak is expected to abate by then. So for now, surf’s up.
"There's going to be good waves, there's a strong typhoon here off the coast of Japan and we know that the waves are getting bigger," International Surfing Association president Fernando Aguerre told Reuters.
Weather delays expected
On the flip side, the rain also threatens Tuesday's two medal games for softball. Japan and the United States are scheduled to play for gold. Canada, vying for bronze, said their flights home are scheduled for Wednesday and their accommodations are scheduled to be taken over by newly arriving athletes.
"We very much hope the game goes on tomorrow," coach Mark Smith said. "We don't have a lot of flexibility."
The storm heading toward Japan's east coast risks elevating sewage levels for water sports in Tokyo Bay. Dangerous levels of E.coli forced the cancellation two years ago of a para-triathlon in the waters due to host the triathlon and marathon swimming events.
Tropical storm conditions may also affect other outdoor sports. Rowing and archery events have been moved, with Tuesday's rowing races rescheduled for later in the week. Sailing may also be affected, depending on post-storm wind conditions. A spokesman for Tokyo 2020 said earlier on Monday that there were no immediate plans to change the schedule for other events.
The likely wind and rain will follow intense heat, which has caused one Olympic archer to collapse and had skateboarders complaining of unbearable conditions by 9 a.m. American skateboarder Nyjah Huston said the heat affected not just the skaters but also their boards.
"It really makes a difference. There's definitely less energy out there than normal," he said. "You're hot, your feet start burning up, you feel kind of crazy."
Tokyo’s sweltering July heat, when high temperatures 95 degrees combine with sauna-like humidity, prompted organizers to move the Olympic marathon event north to Hokkaido.