Famous for its hot and humid climate, keeping athletes – human and equine – cool is a big focus of the Games
Every athlete hopes to perform at their best at an Olympic Games, but the climate in Japan could prove a huge barrier, especially for competitors who aren’t used to a more tropical climate. So, the FEI and Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG) have put together heat and humidity protocols.
Since before the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996, the FEI has worked on keeping the impact of heat and humidity on equine performance to a minimum, and it’s continued its work for Tokyo…
- air-conditioned stables at Baji Koen and Sea Forest Park
- early morning and late evening competition scheduled under floodlights
- careful forecast monitoring alongside Japan Meteorological Agency
- using the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) index to monitor climatic conditions. It measures heat stress based on temperature, wind speed, humidity, sun angle and cloud cover every 15 minutes during the cross-country
- a world-class veterinary team will carefully monitor the horses and have cooling facilities – such as misting fans, shade tents and mobile cooling units – on-hand
- thermal imaging cameras are available to find out body temperature from 5–10m away
Stable Manager Patrick Borg says: “We can compare the stables in Tokyo with the Ritz in Paris. It’s five-star stabling for the horses. We try to do the very best for them.”
Meanwhile, FEI Veterinary Director Göran Akerström said: “We have ongoing and direct contact with the Weather Information Centre, which is constantly monitoring the weather specifically for the two equestrian venues, providing us with detailed information that allows the onsite team to make informed decisions on whether there may be a need to delay or interrupt a competition. If there’s bad weather forecast, then we receive hourly updates, and this can be more frequent if necessary.”
Alongside all the protocols the FEI has put in place, it’s also produced a series of educational videos called Beat the Heat, which helps human athletes prepare.
For more information, visit fei.org