It is no secret that Japan can get incredibly hot and humid in the summer months. There can often be health risks, and it is something Olympic and Paralympic organizers will have to keep in mind. The fact that Tokyo 2020 will occur during the peak summer season doesn’t help. Throughout the summer time, Japan regularly hits thirty degrees with tremendously high humidity. While of course the athletes health is at risk, the general public who aren’t supremely conditioned athletes and will be a part of massive crowds can be even more at risk. In early August, there were 56 deaths and over 18,000 people hospitalized in Japan in a single week. Considering that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are scheduled to take place during the same exact timeframe next year, there are plenty of ideas being explored as how to combat this issue. The organizers for these games are going to make an extreme effort to makes Tokyo 2020 a safe and comfortable games for all involved.
Utilize Day Light Savings
Japan has for a long time been opposed to utilizing daylight savings times. It was once seen as a sign of U.S occupation when adopted post world war two. It was also reported that from workers that it doubled as an excuse for bosses to keep them working later. Daylights saving also somewhat goes against the nickname of Japan, “The Land Of The Rising Sun”, which in part was given due to its 4am sunrise in summer. Day light savings was quickly gotten rid of in 1952 once occupation ended.
With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics coming up, serious considerations are being made to adopt daylight savings once again. Due to the early sunrise, long distance events that often start in the morning will be going on during the hottest hours of the day. This one hour jump forward, and the changing of the start times could be just enough difference in temperature to avoid health risks. There has also been some push back on the use of utilizing day light savings, with suggestions of simply more drastic changes to the start times of specific events.
Artificial Snow Machines
This has been a recent news story across many social media platforms, as The Tokyo Organizing Committee decided to test its snow machines. It was hopeful that they could hypothetically reduce the temperature of a venue. This is specifically being tested at venues where roof coverage for seating is minimal.
Last week about 300kg of ice was used in this test event to see if this could ultimately combat the temperature and humidity of the summertime, that often hovers around 80%. This took place at the Sea Forest Waterway venue, which will be used for both Olympic and Paralympic events. They turned on the machine for about 5 minutes, however the results of test seemed minimal, with the temperature remaining the same throughout the test. Changes and retests are sure to come, but this is one option Tokyo 2020 organizers are looking into.
Private Businesses Open Their Doors
There were some pleas by the local government that private businesses could help tourists deal with the heat by keeping their doors open and blasting their air conditioners. While this may seem somewhat ridiculous, if you’ve walked through Tokyo on a hot day, and passed a BIC Camera or a Yodobashi Camera, you know this temporary burst of cold air can be a saving grace. It’s not just the usual electronic stores that are being asked to do this, but smaller shops and restaurants as well. It remains to be seen if local business are willing to abide by the plea from politicians, as they will be left fronting the bill.
Sell Tokyo 2020 Wagasa
Hand held parasols are often used throughout the summer season, and if the organizing committee can somehow sell some version labeled as official Tokyo 2020 paraphernalia, it could greatly benefit everyone. Japan has already a reputation for elaborate parasols, which are called “wagasa”. They are made from paper and bamboo, often featuring stunning designs. They can often cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but a cheaper sports themed version of the wasaga could be a popular souvenir for both domestics and international tourists.
This is not yet a concrete plan, but it seems like an obvious and logical plan to combat the strong Tokyo summer sun. Canopies and tarps for lineups will undoubtedly be everywhere, but between venues could be a problem. The fact that quite a few Olympic venues are situated in the Tokyo Bay Area, could help maximize the efficiency of shade coverage from venue to venue. The area itself tends to be hit pretty hard by the sun mid day, but if the Tokyo organizers plan things out well, and line the roads between venues with something that can supply an ample amount shade, it will greatly reduce the risk of heat stroke.
Temporary Water Fountains
One thing visitors coming to Tokyo during the summer season may notice is the relative lack of water fountains. Sure they can be found at some parks for the use of the general public, but the truth is there are hardly enough considering the heat. It seems like a way to get individuals to buy from vending machines rather than use refillable water bottles. Tokyo 2020 could easily set up plenty of temporary water fountains in the vicinity of their arenas to help keep people hydrated.
Free Traditional Japanese Hand Fans
If you have visted Japan, you have more than likely been offered a free plastic hand held fan, called an “uchiwa”. They are an extremely popular marketing tool for companies during the summer season. There are often people standing at popular intersections offering them to anyone walking by. At all of Tokyo 2020's countdown events, they have had their own uchiwa being given out as gifts. They more often than not have the mascots Miraitowa and Someity printed on the sides.
You tend to see this mist machines at sporting events, such as on the NFL sidelines. However, in Japan they are not an uncommon site in highly trafficked tourists areas. For example, they can be found along the base of the Tokyo Sky Tree, or in Asakusa, one of the most famous areas in Tokyo. So it won’t be a surprise if the venues will be confirmed to have a mist “zone”, which will essentially be an area where people can sit and feel a nice cool spray.
These are just some of the ways Tokyo 2020 could potentially combat the overbearing heat of the summer season. It is important for organizers to have a well thought out plan to ensure the safety of spectators, athletes and workers alike. There are sure to be more announcements ahead of potentially innovative ways to keep the dangers of overheating to a minimum.
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