Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Daily life turns into a dangerous game in high temps. During the week of July 29 through August 4, 2019, 57 Tokyo inhabitants died from heatstroke, while 18,347 others were hospitalized. During the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Sport Climbing will take place exactly a year later, August 4-7, on outdoor walls. Temperatures could hit 90. Coupled with an average humidity of over 70 percent, conditions at the outdoor climbing wall could be formidable.
How can climbers prepare to beat the heat?
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommends athletes acclimate to Tokyo by training there two weeks prior to the Olympics. Czech superstar Adam Ondra isn’t taking any chances.
In his Road To Tokyo YouTube series, Ondra toured Tokyo following the Hachioji World Championships to see for himself where the climbing wall will be built and what the conditions will be like. “I can’t really imagine climbing right now,” he said after sweating in an empty lot for the camera. At home, he now trains with the heater cranked to a whopping 93.2 degrees.
Ondra’s approach may seem extreme, but acclimating to the heat will be climbers’ best defense. Skin will likely be an issue, so athletes should also remember to pack plenty of tape. To combat rising temps, athletes and spectators alike should drink plenty of water and/or sports drinks and find shade in between rounds. Take care by preparing for the worst!