2020 Tokyo Olympics Organizers Prepare for Deadly Heat

Concerns are mounting over how organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will deal with heat as extremely high temperatures continue across Japan and dozens die from heatstroke.

Changing competition start-times

The organizers revealed most of the game's preliminary schedule on July 18th. Expecting scorching heat, they decided to move forward the starting times of some of the races.

The men's 50-kilometer race walk has been rescheduled to start at 6 AM instead of 7:30 AM, marathons at 7 AM instead of 7:30 AM, and triathlons will start 2 hours earlier at 8:00 AM.

Global media concerned

International media have repeatedly pointed out concerns about the weather in Tokyo.

The Times of London reported that experts have warned that athletes and spectators could die from heat stroke. Reuters says the recent heat wave is sparking fears about the weather during the Games.

Indexes show "Exercise should be stopped"

Japan's Environment Ministry has been noting the temperature and humidity at over a dozen places around competition venues. It publishes the results daily on its website, along with the wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT) index-- a guideline on the amount of exercise that can be safely done at different temperatures.

The ministry says when the WBGT index is between 28 and 31 degrees Celsius, the danger of heat illness is high, and heavy exercise or events that will lead to a rise in body temperature should be avoided. When the WBGT is 31 Celsius or above, all exercise should be stopped.

Here is the WBGT data for August 2017, taken near the new National Stadium now under construction. At 7 AM, the scheduled starting time for the men's marathon, the index was 29.2 degrees Celsius -- in the "Severe Warning" category. By the scheduled ending time, it rose to 31.5 degrees Celsius, the category of "Danger."

Organizers to take measures

The Tokyo 2020 organizers and the central and local governments say they will take precautions to deal with the heat.

Officials say the new national stadium is designed to allow the breeze to enter the stands from outside. Fans will also be installed to cool down the spectators.

For races along roads, workers are repaving the streets with materials that will not get hot. They are also pruning roadside trees to provide shade along the courses.

Expert: More than 1,000 people may need ambulance at marathon race

University of Tokyo Professor Makoto Yokohari says, "The organizers should do everything they can to battle the heat. If one million spectators come to watch the marathon, there will likely be more than 1,000 heatstroke patients needing an ambulance."

Yokohari suggests banning spectators from areas along the course where there is no shade.

He says, "Organizers should seek cooperation from offices and stores with air conditioning to temporarily provide shelters for people who have heat illness."

Tokyo's deadly heat will create tough conditions not only for athletes, but also for people who come from all corners of the globe to enjoy the Games.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 24th to August 9th. The host city cannot be too prepared for the vicious weather.