2020 Tokyo Olympics: Tennis Athlete Wanted to ‘Change Skin’ During Match Break Due to Scorching Heat Temperatures

by Suzanne Halliburton

It’s still scorching hot at the Tokyo Olympics, which is really impacting the athletes competing for the tennis championship.

In fact, the conditions are so sizzling that Novak Djokovic, the world’s top male player, pushed the International Tennis Federation to push back match times from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tokyo Olympics officials did and it still didn’t help that much. Indoor events are fine. It’s the outdoor ones with the issues.

Take what happened to Russia’s Daniil Medvedev. He ranks No. 2 in the world. And by the end of his match Thursday, he was melting. And nothing worked to cool him off while on the court.

He even left the court during his match with Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta. He was gone for a while. Let’s allow him to explain in a most descriptive way.

“I changed everything I had,” Medvedev told reporters. He was talking about his clothes.

“I wanted to change my skin because I was sweating like I never did before,” he said. “It was terrible.”

Medvedev lost to Busta, 6-2, 7-6. So Busta moved on to the Tokyo Olympics semifinals. Medvedev has tried everything to cool down. He used a portable air conditioner and a pile of ice cubes earlier in the week.

Tokyo Olympics Could Be Hottest Ever

NPR reported that the Tokyo Olympics could be the hottest Olympics on record. If you live in parts of the United States, the weather doesn’t sound that extreme. Temperatures are in the high 80s to low 90s. But the high humidity, averaging about 73 percent, pushes the heat index to 100 degrees of warmer. Hydration is a must. The heat and humidity will zap an athlete’s strength and endurance. The plus is the COVID-19 pandemic is keeping fans from watching in person. Otherwise, spectator heat exhaustion would be a huge issue.

“It’s almost like you are in a sauna or something like that,” said Makoto Yokohari, who is a professor at the University of Tokyo. He was an advisor for the Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee.

The Tokyo Olympics already decided to move the marathon to Sapporo, town with a cooler climate. It’s 500 miles from Tokyo. Meanwhile, athletes are wearing cooling vests and misting stations are set up around Tokyo.

But while the heat created havoc in the first week, some of the other competitors will appreciate it. Track and field starts Friday at the Tokyo Olympics. And legendary track star Carl Lewis said the sprinters will thrive. Lewis now coaches the track team at the University of Houston. And the Tokyo weather sounds like Houston.

“Ninety-nine percent of sprinters love it, especially Americans,” Lewis told the New York Times.

The Times pointed out that top running and jumping performances in track typically come in the heat of July and August.

But tell that to the Russian tennis star. Medvedev said earlier this week that he’s never played in more intense heat and humidity than found at the Tokyo Olympics.

“I am always trying to do my best,” Medvedev said. “I couldn’t play better than what I did today. (And) I could serve better, but then I was wet like hell. I couldn’t toss the ball well, once I tossed the ball and got water in my eyes.”