SAPPORO -- Temperatures in Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido have been soaring recently, with Sapporo recording 35 degrees Celsius on July 19, just weeks before the Olympic marathon is set to take place through the prefectural capital's streets.
On July 19 temperatures at 11 of 173 observation points in Hokkaido hit 35 C or above, defined by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) as an "extremely hot day." In Sapporo, it was the first 35 C-plus day in 21 years.
In the town of Shimizu, two women in their 90s were found collapsed outdoors and were later confirmed to have died. Heatstroke is reportedly suspected as their cause of death.
According to the JMA's Sapporo Regional Headquarters, the highest temperatures on July 19 in the prefecture were 35.7 C in the town of Kamifurano, followed by 35.5 C in the town of Hidaka and 35.4 C in the city of Ashibetsu and the towns of Shintoku and Ashoro.
In Sapporo on July 19, nine people who suffered heatstroke were sent to the hospital as of 5 p.m. This summer, as many as 104 people had been transferred to the hospital by July 18, more than five times the amount during the same period last year, and the Sapporo Fire Bureau is warning people to take measures to prevent heatstroke.
The International Olympic Committee decided to move the marathon races to Sapporo, more than 800 kilometers north of Tokyo, due to concerns over the heat in Japan's capital. The women's marathon will be held on Saturday, Aug. 7, while the men's race will take place the following day.
(Japanese original by Hiroaki Kishikawa and Junichi Tsuchiya, Hokkaido News Department)