Tokyo Olympics Open Water Event Moved Up to Counter Heat Concerns

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Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo Bay; Photo Courtesy: Tokyo2020

The organizers of the Tokyo Olympics have moved up the start times for the open water swimming event to account for possible high temperatures later in the day.

The men’s and women’s 10-kilometer swims will begin at 6:30 a.m. local time, allowing an estimated competition time of around 9 a.m. The women’s 10k is scheduled for Aug. 4, the men’s race on Aug. 5.

The decision was taken in consultation with FINA and the IOC. FINA has mandates in place as to maximum temperatures for open water races to ensure athlete safety.

Heat has been an issue for the Tokyo Olympics organizers and will likely be again, provided the COVID-19 pandemic clears enough to allow the Games to occur. A heatwave in the summer of 2019 led to concern for a number of events, and the organizers altered start times in sports such as long-distance track and field races, equestrian, rugby sevens, triathlon and mountain biking. The Olympic marathons were also moved to Sapporo, 500 miles north of Tokyo and several degrees more temperate in the summer. Some talk had circulated last year about a similar move for the open-water venue.

Water quality has also been an issue, with renewed water screening of Odaiba Marine Park, which hosts the open water events, as recently as last fall.

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