Pandemic Games endured heat, and now a typhoon’s en route

Published July 27, 2021
A worker prepares the track for competition during rainy weather on July 27. — Reuters
A worker prepares the track for competition during rainy weather on July 27. — Reuters

TOKYO: First, the sun. Now, the wind and the rain.

The Tokyo Olympics, delayed by the pandemic and opened under oppressive heat, are due for another hit of nature’s power: a typhoon arriving Tuesday morning that is forecast to disrupt at least some parts of the Games.

Don’t worry, Japanese hosts say: In US terms, the incoming weather is just a mid-grade tropical storm. And the surfers at Tsurigasaki beach say Tropical Storm Nepartak could actually improve the competition so long as it doesn’t hit the beach directly.

But archery, rowing and sailing have already adjusted their Tuesday schedules. Tokyo Games spokesman Masa Takaya said there were no other changes expected.

“It is a tropical storm of three grade out of five, so you shouldn’t be too much worried about that, but it is a typhoon in Japan interpretation,” Takaya said. “This is the weakest category, but this is still a typhoon so we should not be too optimistic about the impact of the course.”

Tropical Storm Nepartak, packing gusts up to 108 kilometres (67 miles) per hour, was expected to make landfall on Tuesday, Japan’s meteorological agency said.

The storm is shifting its course from the Tokyo area to northeastern regions, including Fukushima. But the agency warned of heavy rain, wind and high waves over a wide area including the capital.

The wind and rain will follow intense heat, which has caused one Olympic archer to collapse and had skateboarders complaining of unbearable conditions by 9 a.m.

“In line with the current weather forecast, the schedule for the rowing and archery events due to take place on the 27th have already been changed,” Tokyo 2020 said. “At this time, there are no plans to change the schedule for any of the other events due to be held on Tuesday.”

The Games organisers said they would keep a close eye on the forecast and activate contingency plans for bad weather “should the need arise”.

Tuesday afternoon archery sessions have been postponed until Wednesday and Thursday, with Tuesday’s rowing races rescheduled for later in the week.

On Monday, South Korea figured out an inconsistent wind on the eve of the typhoon to defend their men’s archery team title.

Energetic 17-year-old Kim Je-deok came up clutch in the semi-finals to hold off host nation Japan and then again in a 6-0 win over Chinese Taipei during the gold-medal match at Yumenoshima Park Archery Field.

The medal heats for surfing, making its Olympic debut in Tokyo, were due to be held on Wednesday, but the strong swell provided by the Nepartak is expected to abate by then and impact the waves, prompting organisers to move them forward by a day.

Japan’s typhoon season runs from around May to October, peaking in August and September.

In 2019, Typhoon Hagibis hit as Japan hosted the Rugby World Cup.

The powerful storm killed more than 100 people, and forced organisers to cancel three pool matches.

The Olympics opened on Friday after a year-long pandemic delay and will run until August 8. Spectators are banned at most venues because of coronavirus risks.

Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2021

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