Tokyo 2020 ramps up cooling measures

Officials react to sprayed artificial snow from snow-making machines to ease heat during a canoe sprint test event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games (by Toru Hanai/Getty Images)

Organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics have announced a slew of measures to counteract the effect of hot weather on the Games, including initiatives with 24 sponsors.

Measures were tested at outdoor events this summer to protect athletes, spectators, Games staff and media personnel. They included mist sprays, shading tents, heatstroke alerts delivered via the Tokyo 2020 website, temperature monitoring systems, water sprinklers and cooling consumable products such as frozen desserts.

Following the tests, further measures are being considered, including changing the schedules of events including triathlon, equestrian eventing, and equestrian cross county.

The organising committee said in a press release that it wasn’t entirely satisfied with the measures tested so far: “A review of the results of these activities showed that, although individual initiatives brought certain benefits, their overall effectiveness was limited as a result of them being implemented in isolation. Tokyo 2020 and the project sponsors will therefore discuss ways of coordinating their heat countermeasures.”

The sponsors working with Tokyo 2020 on cooling projects are International Olympic Committee TOP sponsors The Coca-Cola Company, Dow Chemical, Panasonic Corporation, Toyota Motor Corporation, Visa; and Tokyo 2020 Domestic Partners Asahi Breweries, Asics Corporation, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co, NEC Corporation, Nomura Holdings, Fujitsu Limited, Mizuho Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Meiji Co, LIXIL Corporation, Earth Corporation, Airweave, Dai Nippon Printing Co, Tokyo Gas Co, Toto, Japan Post Holdings Co, ECC Co, Google Japan, and Yahoo Japan Corporation.

Projects included:

  • Panasonic installed its Green Air Conditioner Flex mist-spray cooling devices at Tokyo 2020 test event venues and in three city districts in Tokyo, Yokohama and Kobe. The devices decrease heat and reduce the effect of sunlight in their immediate vicinity.
  • Google Japan provided air conditioning units at a countdown event for the Paralympic Games.
  • Asics will supply special uniforms for volunteers with moisture-repelling fabric and breathable mesh sections.
  • Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co tested several heat countermeasures during a Paralympic support event in the Tohoku region during July and August. It set up ‘cool spots’ with shaded areas and mist-spray machines to cool down visitors. It also provided drinks for visitors and breathable clothes and towels for operations staff. The event included a stage presentation highlighting measures to counteract heatstroke.
  • Nomura Holdings held a traditional ‘Uchimizu Biyori’ water sprinkling event near its Nihonbashi headquarters. Tourists and passers-by joined Nomura Group employees to sprinkle water on the pavement to cool down the area. The company also distributed Tokyo 2020 mascot-branded paper fans to its customers at its branches and at summer festivals in Tokyo.
  • Mizuho Financial Group distributed about 350,000 Tokyo 2020 mascot Uchiwa paper fans to its customers at its branches across Japan.
  • Meiji offered test samples of its products including special frozen desserts and snacks during summer events in Tokyo.
  • Building materials and housing equipment manufacturer Lixil Corporation held a seminar in Saitama explaining how to shade and insulate the sliding windows prevalent in Japanese homes.
  • Dai Nippon Printing Co provided rest spaces, fans and wet tissues at test events, and installed a heat stroke warning board showing heat stress index (WGBT) values.
  • Earth Corporation installed thermal insulation tents and ‘spot coolers’ at Tokyo 2020 test events.
  • Tokyo Gas Co installed fine mist sprays at its Gas Science Museum and applied thermal barrier paint to the canopy over the entrance.

The announcements of the cooling measures come after the controversial move of marathon and race walking events from Tokyo to Sapporo, following IOC concern about heat in the capital.