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News Navigator: Why are the Olympic and Paralympic games being held in summer?

In this file photo, a runner jogs on a road with a heat-resistant pavement designed to keep temperatures low in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward on Aug. 31, 2016. (Mainichi)

As professional sports in the U.S. and Europe begin to be televised as the season shifts to fall, the Mainichi Shimbun answers some questions readers may have about why the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games are instead set to be held in the summer.

    Question: It's the height of autumn sports, isn't it? Why won't the 2020 Tokyo Games be held during this season?

    Answer: That's because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) asked for candidate cities that could host the games sometime between July 15 and Aug. 31. If there are special circumstances like Doha, which lost in the first round of selection, then there was the possibility of opening the games in October to avoid the sweltering heat. However, this was not really a realistic proposal -- holding the games in fall would overlap with professional sports seasons in the U.S. and soccer in Europe. This would affect the viewership of the television stations whose payment of broadcasting rights fees for the games are the primary source of income for the IOC. Since the 1992 Games in Barcelona, all games have been held from July through August, with the exception of the 2000 Sydney Games, due to the city's location in the Southern Hemisphere.

    Q: But weren't the Tokyo 1964 Games held in fall?

    A: There are many people who clearly remember the sight of the Air Self-Defense Force "Blue Impulse" jets marking the clear autumn sky with the Olympic logo. However, the time period for those games was also heavily debated. During selection of the host cities, there were two options for the time period: July through August and October. But to avoid typhoon season in Japan, holding the games from May through June was also considered. The plan to hold the 1964 Games in July and August was thrown out from the very start due to the extreme heat and humidity of Tokyo summers, and in the end, considering the time it would take to build facilities, an October start was decided.

    Q: Will the 2020 Games in the middle of summer be OK?

    A: Experts are raising worries of the most "oppressively hot" Olympic and Paralympic Games ever. The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games set up an exploratory committee this year, and began full-scale consideration of countermeasures for the extreme heat. The committee plans to release a concrete summary of their measures to beat the heat, such as tents, installation of mist showers, giving out water bottles, and multilingual warnings, by the end of this fiscal year. As for event-specific measures, the organization committee is considering moving up the 7:30 a.m. start of the marathon event. Along with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government covering some 136 kilometers of road with heat-resistant pavement, the central government is also moving forward with preparations like emergency treatment systems for heat stroke. (Answers by Kazuhiro Tahara, Sports News Department)

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