Mist sprays, fake queues as Tokyo sweats over Olympic heat

While temperatures have been cooler this summer, organisers insist they will be prepared for intense heat and used an international beach volleyball Olympic test event to trial proposed measures.

The medals for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games being unveiled during a ceremony.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Tokyo Olympics organisers tested misting sprays and air-conditioned tents and even told volunteers to queue for a mock security check as they trialled cooling methods in case of severe temperatures at next year’s Games.

Tokyo’s hot and humid summer weather is a major concern for Olympic organisers, particularly after a deadly heatwave that engulfed the city last year.

While temperatures have been cooler this summer, organisers insist they will be prepared for intense heat and used an international beach volleyball Olympic test event on Thursday to trial proposed measures.

Officials handed out free folding fans and towels to help sweaty spectators cool off.

“Heat mitigation measures cover very broad aspects,” said Hidemasa Nakamura, Tokyo 2020 Games delivery officer.

“There are athletes, spectators, volunteers, foreigners, the elderly, small children, individuals with special needs. We will offer a detailed response,” he said.

The Tokyo Open of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour is being staged at an ocean-side park where the mercury went beyond 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) on Thursday.

A measure of the heat stress in direct sunlight, called the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT), hit a level that is considered dangerous for exercising outdoors.

As part of the tests, Olympic organisers operated a mock security checkpoint with some 150 volunteers queuing, some under tents and others under the scorching sun.

“Naturally, having tents made a big difference. We are reminded that it’s important to make the wait as short as possible,” Nakamura said.

Other cooling measures include fire engine-sized misting stations pumping out sprays of water, air-conditioned cooling tents and potted flower fences that organisers say help “psychologically” cool those around.

Nakamura said spectators will be urged to protect themselves by bringing adequate water and wearing hats.

“It’s important that we make the line shorter (at security checkpoints). We will call on people to bring as little as possible to minimise the lines,” he added.

“We cannot control the climate. We must deal with it based on facts and reality,” Nakamura said, acknowledging the challenges posed by Mother Nature.

“Even creating shadows or mist, it’s difficult to cover the entire area.”