With the 2019 Tokyo ITU World Olympic Qualification Event taking place from 15-18 August on the purpose-built Odaiba Park course – the site that will host the triathlon events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games – new measures are being put in place. These are designed to mitigate the effects of summer heat and humidity in the Japanese capital this month.
Following consultation with its Medical Committee, Coaches Committee and the Tokyo Olympic Games Organising Committee (TOGOC), ITU has prepared a series of changes to the standard race set up to ensure the health and safety of all athletes.
The start times of all races have been moved earlier to avoid higher temperatures. Among the most important changes will be:
- The addition of extra water stations on the run course;
- Air-conditioned athletes’ areas both pre- and post-competition;
- Revised heat stress protocols, with specially trained personnel added to the technical teams; and
- Trained medical personnel stationed every 500m along the 10km run course.
Further rule changes designed to aid pre-race preparations will allow athletes to wear cooling vests until their official introduction and their coaches to place cold or frozen water onto bikes between the athletes’ introductions and the start of the race.
To help with mid-race comfort, special paint is used for the road pavement to reduce heat reflection on the field of play; and athletes will be allowed to rest in designated cooling zones.
“We are taking all the measures to make sure that everyone’s health and safety is our maximum priority, and we are sure that with all these measures, we are working in the right direction reducing the exposure of athletes to the weather conditions,” said ITU Medical Director Sergio Migliorini.
During the races, coaches will be allowed to provide nutrition in a designated coaches area on the bike and run course, and littering zones have been removed so no penalties will be applied.
Among other measures, additional shaded areas will be available for athletes after the races, and a quick medal ceremony and athlete’s introduction will further aim to reduce the heat exposure as much as possible.
ITU has currently updated the ‘ITU exertional heat illness prevention guidelines’ considering the ‘IOC Plan for Heat Countermeasures at the Tokyo OG 2020’ and its event organizers’ manual regarding the contingency plans for racing that are taking place in extreme heat conditions.