Who knew the potentially worst opponent for 2020 Tokyo Olympics tennis star, Novak Djokovic, would be the weather? Djokovic, who represents his home country of Serbia, beat Bolivian Hugo Dellien in the first round of men’s singles. However, he and several other tennis stars agreed that Tokyo’s weather was some of the hardest they’ve ever played in.
According to CNN, the weather for the Olympic Games reached 93°F today with 80% humidity. However, conditions in Djokovic’s hometown aren’t much milder. Today, Belgrade, Serbia reached 94ºF with 73% humidity. Still, the Serbian athlete shared just how much of a toll the weather took on him and other competitors.
“Today, from also speaking to the other players, it was the hottest day so far,” the 2020 Tokyo Olympics athlete said. “Maybe other days there was a bit more wind, which helped refresh and cool down, but not much today, so it was challenging definitely, but I’m pleased to overcome the first hurdle.”
How High Temperatures Affect Athletes in 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Like the U.S., Japan sees most of its hottest and wettest weather in July and August each year. So, for many of us in more southern states, we can imagine what it’s like for the spectators.
However, it’s harder to put into perspective the challenge that the weather poses for our athletes. They are using all of their energy reserves for hours on end outside, depending on the sport. WDRB reports that exercise produces 15 to 20 times more body heat than resting. Meanwhile, a dew point of more than 60º reduces the ability to cool your body through sweating.
Not to mention, the athletes are most likely battling nerves, too. All of this combined is a sure-fire recipe for dehydration, heat exhaustion or worse. That’s why it’s so crucial for athletes, coaches and International Olympic Committee (IOC) members to keep a close eye on the thermometer.
Three Factors of Heat-Related Illnesses
According to the British Association of Sustainable Sport, the risk of heat-related illnesses comes down to three central factors: frequency and intensity of play, time of day and duration of exposure and opportunity to recover. For 2020 Tokyo Olympics athlete, Djokovic, who played at 11:00 a.m. today, this meant that the nature of his sport plus time and duration of his match gave him little opportunity to replenish his body’s fluids. It’s no wonder he and his fellow tennis players faced such difficulty with the weather!
In response to the hot and humid weather, the IOC has taken preventative measures to ensure its athletes have plenty of places to cool down throughout the day. Water stations, misters and shaded areas are available to both athletes and spectators at the associated venues. Some teams, like Canada, even prepped for the drastic change in weather by stationing in areas with weather like Tokyo in order to acclimate to the city’s weather and temperature.