Because of its potential impact on the competition, weather is always an important and closely monitored factor at the Olympic Games. The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 have the benefit of cutting-edge monitoring systems to spot any emerging weather conditions that could impact the athletes’ ability to perform at their peak. Too little wind is bad for sailing, while too much is bad for tennis and several other sports; and excessive heat can be a challenge for nearly every outdoor event.
A Weather Information Centre (WIC) gives Games organisers accurate, up-to-the-minute forecasts about a range of weather conditions and serves as an early warning system for potentially major storms, using information gathered by the Japan Meteorological Agency.
For the first time at any Olympic Games, Tokyo 2020 has access to data from a satellite that scans the atmosphere every 30 seconds — much faster than the normal 2.5-minute interval — for any signs of extreme weather.
The real-time satellite readings are more accurate than many other weather forecasts, which rely on computer simulation.
The system also tracks weather 10 days in the future and delivers regular updates to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Federations (IFs), National Olympic Committees, National Paralympic Committees and other key Games stakeholders, in English and Japanese, through a dedicated website.
For venues where sports are particularly susceptible to precise weather conditions, forecast engineers are dispatched to give in-person briefings.
Masanori Nishigata, head of the WIC at Tokyo 2020, said the system is designed to deliver accurate information quickly to anyone who needs it.
He added: “This cutting-edge technology has never been used in Olympic and Paralympic Games in the past, and we believe we will be able to contribute to the safe operation of the Games.”
Games organisers began planning long in advance of Tokyo 2020 to mitigate the impact of high temperatures on athletes, as well as Games staff and volunteers. The marathon was moved from Tokyo to Sapporo, which has a cooler climate. Equestrian eventing, which involves a challenging cross-country competition, was shifted to a cooler part of the day to protect the horses as much as the riders.
Air conditioning units are being distributed, as are water, cooling vests, salt tablets, ice cream and hats. Other scheduling adjustments are being made as conditions warrant.
Tokyo 2020, the IOC and the IFs are continuing to collaborate closely to ensure safe conditions for athletes.
Christophe Dubi, Olympic Games Executive Director, praised the technological expertise that helps guide those decisions. “At the very beginning of the preparation for these Games, there was the notion that it was to display to the rest of the world everything that Japan can offer, and the best of Japan,” he said. “The level of sophistication in the planning is really very impressive.”