By Jack Tarrant
TOKYO (Reuters) – As Tokyo melts in a record-breaking heatwave, Olympic organisers are looking at ways to combat the heat when the 2020 Games rolls into town in two years.
With the temperature reaching a record 41.1 degrees Celsius (106 Fahrenheit) on Monday, concerns are high that similar conditions in 2020 could disrupt the Games and pose health issues for athletes and spectators alike.
Although organisers will hope temperatures do not reach such heights again, the Tokyo average in July is still over 30 Celsius since 1998, according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency.
“Yes, in recent days Tokyo and Japan has been like living in a sauna every day,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on Monday.
“For the athletes, I am sure they are training and very healthy in their bodies but for the spectators, who are cheering along the roadside, we cannot necessarily say they are training themselves to be very healthy.
“So, indeed, how to deal with this heat? This is one pillar needed for the success of the 2020 Games.”
Earlier this year, experts warned of the risks of heatstroke at the Games which run until Aug. 9, with conditions reaching levels at which sporting activities would normally be halted in the country.
Organisers are looking at a variety of counter-measures to deal with the heat, including scheduling the marathon session to start at 0700 local time.
They also want to grapple with the heat head-on using the latest technology.
“We have developed mist-spraying technologies, which are nano-particle-sized. It is a mist spray,” said Koike.
“In terms of the road, there is the heat-blocking or insulating technology. If this heat-blocking pavement is covering the asphalt then, on average, there will be a temperature suppression of eight degrees Celsius.”
Organisers have talked of spraying over 100 kilometres of road, including the route for the marathon and walking events.
“We are pleased to see that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has a plan to install this heat-proof road surfaces in various city centre (locations) with a total length of more than 100 kilometres,” said Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya.
“This includes the marathon course so it will be able to contribute to the counter-measures on heat.”
Although no product has yet been approved for use by Tokyo 2020 organisers, a compound produced by Fujita Road Construction Co Ltd made an appearance at the recent ‘Heat Solutions Expo’ held in the Japanese capital.
The product makes pedestrians feel a couple of degrees cooler by reflecting heat and ultraviolet rays when sprayed on asphalt and concrete road surfaces.
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Ian Ransom)