By Yoko Kono
TOKYO (Reuters) – After a week of Tokyo 2020 test events dominated by talks of sweltering heat and stifling humidity, it was hockey’s turn to experience it at the newly-built Oi Hockey Stadium on Saturday.
Hockey teams from countries including India and Australia are joining hosts Japan in a series of matches across four days to test out the facilities and gain some experience in dealing with Tokyo’s tricky summer climate.
Temperatures reached 37 degrees Celsius on Saturday but there were no reports of heat-stroke on the opening day.
The teams benefited from a range of heat countermeasures, including water mist sprays and large fans on the field and players moving inside and away from the sun during water breaks.
India defeated Japan 2-1 in the opening match on the main 2,600-seater pitch and for the Indian players, the hot conditions were nothing new and came with playing an outdoor sport.
“Oh yes, it was really rather hot,” said Indian women’s captain Rani Rampal.
“I think every player was getting tired very quickly but in India we are used to this. In India it is really hot nowadays.”
“Sometimes it is difficult, but this is sport, we can’t change it.”
Japan defender Shiori Oikawa, who played in the Netherlands, said the conditions could prove tricky for European teams next year.
“I have played in the Netherlands for three years, so this is completely different from European climate,” she said. “It is very difficult.”
Tokyo 2020 Governor Yuriko Koike officially opened the venue earlier in the morning at a ribbon cutting ceremony and praised the heat countermeasures in place.
“Today we used some mists, various ways of misting…we also have water hoses normally used for agriculture use for irrigation. So, we are trying varieties of ways of cooling,” she said.
“We will use the best methods at Tokyo 2020. To test those countermeasures, I think test events are very important.”
After the Olympics, the multi-purpose complex with continue to host hockey, soccer, lacrosse and American football events.
(Writing by Jack Tarrant; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)