A year behind schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tokyo Games are finally underway. As a result of an unfavorable change in the weather, another delay appears to be on the way.
Rowing events scheduled for Tuesday have been postponed as Tokyo braces for a typhoon in the upcoming forecast. Races planned for Tuesday have been pushed back to Wednesday and Thursday.
“Based on the weather forecasts received from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games weather services, adverse weather is expected on Tuesday 27 July 2021, which would bring high winds and strong gusts creating unequal and potentially unrowable racing conditions," World Rowing said in a statement.
While the weather throws another complication in what's been a winding journey for the Olympics, the nature of a typhoon makes it more predictable than other weather events, says Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Takaya Masa.
"Unlike an earthquake, we're able to predict the path of a typhoon so we can make plans, and indeed when it comes to rowing, as a preventative measure, we have decided to change the schedule for the event," Masa said, per ESPN's Tom Hamilton. "Changing the schedule is not a rare event, and we understand the burden it'll have on athletes. We're looking closely at the path of the typhoon to make decisions as preventative measures. Should it make land, there could be damages, and if that's going to be the case, we will take responsible measures.
"At this point in time I cannot offer you exactly what will happen, but we will be paying a close eye to it."
Beyond the changes to the schedule, there exists a concern that Tokyo Bay could be inundated with sewage water as a result of the storm, which would impact the men's and women's triathlon events scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, respectively.
"We have installed triple-layer screens as a measure to help ensure water quality," a Tokyo 2020 spokesman told Reuters. "As well as thereby preventing the inflow of E.coli bacteria after rainfall, through daily monitoring of water quality and the weather we aim to stabilise water temperature by opening the screens during periods of fine weather when water quality is stable.
"Furthermore, water flow generators have been introduced to deal with rising water temperatures when the underwater screens are closed. Among other actions, we will be carefully monitoring their operation when water temperatures approach the standards specified by the international federations."
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