Terrie's Take 816 (Tourism Edition) -- Heatstroke and the Tokyo Olympics

Terrie's Take terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Sun Aug 9 23:29:47 JST 2015

* * * * * * * * TERRIE'S (TOURISM) TAKE - BY TERRIE LLOYD * * * * * *
A bi-weekly focused look at the tourism sector in Japan, by Terrie 
Lloyd, a long-term technology and media entrepreneur living in Japan.

Tourism Sector Edition Sunday, Aug 09, 2015, Issue No. 816

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+++ Heatstroke and the Tokyo Olympics

With a high of just 32 degrees today, Tokyo temperatures have lowered 
closer to the historical average of 30 degrees than at any time in the 
last 8 days, during which time the capital was gripped by a record 
heatwave. Japan issues an "extreme heat" warning when the surface 
temperature exceeds 35 degrees, and since July 31st the official Met 
Agency has issued such warnings every day, after recording readings of 
35-38 degrees.

In fact, as we have noted previously in TT-575, the reading the Met 
Agency gives and what you really experience on the street can be between 
12 and 24 degrees different. In other words, in Shibuya on Friday this 
week the real street temperature was probably around 47-50 degrees...! 
No wonder that there were a lot of distressed tourist faces that day.


This heat wave was a record in terms of duration, with previous 
occasions lasting only 4 days, in 1978 and 2013, and 5 days in 2010. 
Weather records have been kept in Tokyo since June 1875, so this time 
really was one for the books. As a result of the heat, there were at 
least 11,000 people sent to hospital for heatstroke and other ailments, 
and 55 officially-recognized heat-related deaths.

The heat wave brought with it a new concern for the Japanese government 
-- athlete safety during the Olympics. As readers may know, the Japanese 
bid for the 2020 games offered to run them from the end of July to the 
middle of August. The fact is, though, that if city temperatures rise to 
38 degrees as they did on Friday, then the Tokyo Olympics could wind up 
being the hottest games in 120 years. The last time a games this hot was 
held was in 1900 in Paris, and at that time, according to some fun 
Bloomberg research, more than half the marathon runners had to withdraw 
because of heat exhaustion. This time around it isn't just marathoners, 
but also cyclists and walkers -- and of course the all-important crowd 
of paying fans.

[Continued below...]

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While world of big sport is not known for its flexibility, sometimes 
physical realities do get to temper commercial aspirations and a 
compromise has to be struck. Case in point is soccer's FIFA, which has 
moved the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from summer to that region's winter, 
for fear of hurting the health of the visiting athletes. Even Japan 
itself has recognized such a need in the past, when it moved the 1964 
games from the traditional July period to October. The mean temperature 
for October 1964 was just 19.6 degrees, versus 33.2 degrees so far this 
month -- a huge difference in comfort and safety for both audience and 
competitors. And we haven't even started to talk about the prevalence of 
typhoons at this time of year.

Why, then, doesn't the Tokyo Olympics committee follow the same good 
sense of its predecessors and hold the Olympics in, say, 
September-October? No one is saying, not in public anyway.

When there is no logical answer, one has to follow the money. In this 
case, the money, and perhaps thus control over scheduling, appears to be 
the huge investments made by NBC and other international broadcasters in 
the TV rights for the games -- US$1.45bn for the 2020 games alone. 
Overall, broadcasting rights account for about 73% of all Olympics 
revenue, and by its very nature (NBC paying out almost US$7.65bn for 
rights for the next 18 years) such revenue is the easiest and most 
predictable source of income for the organization.

Because this is a huge revenue source to protect, we assume that when 
key broadcasters state a preference for the July-August time frame for 
the Olympics due to other major events they want to cover in the fall 
(such as the start of the NFL season and US Open), the International 
Olympic Committee (IOC) listens carefully. Furthermore, given that 90% 
of IOC income flows back to the various National Olympic Committees and 
others feeding into (and from) the IOC, you can be sure that the Japan 
NOC (JOC) is not looking to rock the boat either.

So what is the JOC doing instead? Well, simply put, they are looking for 
band aids so that they can say they tried their best. Honestly speaking 
it's all kind of embarrassing, but probably not as embarrassing as the 
debacle over the construction of the centerpiece stadium... :-) Among 
the ideas a new government panel has come up with to alleviate heat is 
the laying of special water-absorbent materials on the roads the 
athletes will use, installing special covers over the roads, and 
installing misting systems and planting shade trees for the audience. 
Unfortunately the committee's jawboning is mostly wishful thinking, and 
instead, they should just compensate the TV networks and move the 
Olympics to a more favorable date. It might be cheaper and less likely 
to damage Japan's image as a desirable venue for the future. 
Unfortunately, recently Japanese leadership seems to have lost its 
ability to plan for the future.

Anyway, if they are serious about the trees, then they'd better hurry up 
and get it done. They only have 5 years to grow big enough to do the job 


Lastly, a note that Sunday next week and the week after, Aug 16 and 23, 
we will be taking one of four breaks a year, to do a short Obon trip. We 
will be back with the regular edition of Terrie's Take on August 30. As 
always, thanks for reading.

...The information janitors/

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----------------- ICA Event - September 3rd ------------------

Title: "Tokyo Bay Cruise ICA Summer Networking"

Details: Complete event details at 
Venue: Tokyo Takeshiba Terminal. http://www.nouryousen.jp/cruise.html
Date: September 3rd (Thursday)
Cost: ¥3,000 ICA members; ¥4,000 non-members. Special Offer on the 
night; Join the ICA for ¥5,000 instead ¥10,000 annual fee, which is a 
50% discount, and you pay and get in at the member rate! Note: You must 
be at the Tokyo Bay-Takeshiba Terminal by 6:35pm, as the ship sets sail 
at 7:00pm sharp. Meeting point is at the Big Ship Mast at the front and 
if on arrival you are unable to find this location then please call 
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RSVP: Tickets will be limited and you must register with the ICA by 
August 28th, 6pm, as space is limited.

SUBSCRIBERS: 6,889 members as of August 09, 2015
(We purge our list regularly.)


Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com)

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