National

Tokyo Olympic volunteers will be limited to one-hour stints due to heat concerns

Kyodo

Volunteers at next summer’s Olympics, likely to be laboring in blazing heat, will work no more than one hour at a stretch, and a manual will be drafted to help on-site leaders determine break times, according to officials.

The decision is one component of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s overall basic policy, announced Monday, for dealing with the hot weather expected during the 2020 Games.

The officials said the basic policy on heat countermeasures and spectator guidance was based on the results of simulations conducted this summer at various test events.

Planning for potentially deadly heat has been a major headache for the Olympic organizers, as Tokyo temperatures regularly top 30 degrees in July and August, when the games will take place.

In mid-September, organizers tested whether artificial snow could be used to cool spectators at outdoor venues.

To help the volunteers, who are being recruited by the metropolitan government, provide smooth guidance for spectators and other tourists in the capital, real-time information on results and progress of the day’s competitions will be shared on smartphones and other devices, according to the basic policy.

Officially known as “City Cast,” the volunteers will assist tourists and manage traffic at airports and train stations, differing from “Field Cast” volunteers, who will work at competition venues and the athletes village.

In the evening hours they will operate in pairs, the metropolitan government said, adding that it is also considering providing “umbrella hats,” a wearable item that generated much talk online after its prototype was released, to people who request them.

Based on expert opinion that shade is the most effective way to keep spectators cool, the metropolitan government also plans to put up a large number of tents around venues, in combination with the use of fans and other measures.

Rest spaces, comprising at a minimum a tent, fans, benches and water, will be installed in the “last mile” between venues and their closest station, as well as along the sides of road competitions.

Furthermore, the metropolitan government will provide neck coolers to help keep body temperature down, and use paper fans as a tool to convey warnings on heatstroke and heat exhaustion. It also plans to distribute crushed ice in places where measures against heat are especially needed.

By running test events centered on indoor competitions starting this October, the organizers will hold drills on guiding non-Japanese and disabled spectators, as well as for how to handle a hypothetical disaster.

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