National

Japan weather firm looks to back 2020 Olympians with strategic data

JIJI

A team from Weathernews Inc. is boosting efforts to amass data on air and road temperatures, humidity and other physical phenomena at venues for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which are expected to take place amid sweltering heat.

At the request of various sports associations, the team from the Chiba-based company is visiting many locations for weather observation to help athletes accelerate preparations for performing their best in the quadrennial event.

Holding the Olympics and Paralympics in the midst of summer will be “very tough,” said Kazuo Asada, 43, who leads the company’s “sports weather team.”

“In the Tokyo Games, taking advantage of weather data will be more important than any other Olympic and Paralympic Games in the past,” he said. “Our mission is to utilize weather information to help athletes win.” The team was launched in 2015.

Weathernews has previously offered observation data for sporting and other events. The company started utilizing its know-how for competitive sports after helping Japan’s national rugby team compete the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

To prepare for the marathon, for example, the company will provide runners with weather data both recent and from the past, such as that collected on and around the same dates of the events in the years before 2020.

In the 2020 Olympics, the women’s marathon will take place on Aug. 2 and the men’s on Aug. 9, the final day of the games. The marathons for the Paralympics will both be held on Sept. 6.

Last summer, the team monitored data on air and road temperatures, humidity and wind strength and direction every 5 km along the marathon courses, taking into consideration the athletes’ expected running paces. It also checked areas expected to be in the shade when the races take place.

The team plans to conduct similar observations this year as well.

“We hope to help athletes make preparations even under the worst weather conditions,” Asada said.

How the weather data should be used will be up to the athletes themselves.

The team monitored and provided real-time weather data at venues for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea and the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.

“Athletes who had been keen to check weather data with us won medals,” Asada said, adding, “Winners are highly sensitive to information.”

The team will also provide weather data to the triathlon and sailing competitors in the Tokyo Games.

Thanks to cooperation with the University of Tsukuba, the team is now able to forecast weather for an extremely localized area measuring 5 meters by 5 meters.

“We’re taking on a challenge all the more because weather conditions during the 2020 Games may not be good,” Asada said, vowing to offer the best support possible to Olympians and Paralympians.

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