The 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic organizing committee announced Friday it will establish a "weather center" in an effort to protect athletes and spectators from extreme heat and typhoons during the next Summer Games, Kyodo News reports.
Organizers reached an agreement with a private weather forecast company on Thursday, and are set to begin implementing full-scale countermeasures in collaboration with both the private and public sectors, including the Japan Meteorological Agency.
Weather-related concerns have been mounting after a historic heat wave hit the Japanese capital last summer. Organizers admitted in November that the threat posed by the extreme heat and typhoons is considered a "major issue."
While weather centers have been established at previous similar events, Tokyo 2020 organizers are placing more emphasis on the service after last summer's high temperatures prompted the weather agency to call the heat wave "a natural disaster."
More than 90 deaths were attributed to the heat in the city in July alone, with an area near Tokyo seeing a record temperature of 41.1 C. Other parts of the country were devastated last year by typhoons and floods.
Last winter, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach expressed the need for specific countermeasures for the July 24-Aug. 9 Olympics and Aug. 25-Sept. 6 Paralympics. Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori responded to the call by saying the heat risk is "one of the most important issues" organizers are facing.
Throughout the Tokyo Games, the weather center will analyze climate data in areas with competition venues, and send information to spectators via mobile phone apps and other channels on matters such as heat stroke prevention and forecasts of extreme weather.
It is expected the information will also be provided to athletes through their National Olympic Committees.
One member of the Japan Meteorological Agency has already joined the organizing committee as they begin addressing weather-related issues in the run-up to the games.
Several other countermeasures have already been proposed in anticipation of extreme weather with 18 months to go before Tokyo hosts the Summer Games for the first time since 1964.
Last year, Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party considered adopting daylight saving time during the games but abandoned the idea in October citing technological difficulties in making such a change in less than two years.
In December, Mori announced that, if the relevant federations agree, the marathon will start at 6 a.m., one hour earlier than previously scheduled. Rugby and mountain bike schedules have also been shifted to avoid the worst of the heat.
Other anti-heat measures such as more medical resources, non-heat-reflecting paving, water sprayers and more shaded areas for spectators have been expected to drive costs up, but the third game's budget released in December remained at 1.35 trillion yen, the same as outlined last year.
However, organizing committee President Toshiro Muto said at the time that pressure will come onto the budget figure due to heat countermeasures, among other factors.
Source: Kazinform News Agency
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