Terrie's Take 816 (Tourism Edition) -- Heatstroke and the Tokyo Olympics
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
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.
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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
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SUBSCRIBERS: 6,889 members as of August 09, 2015
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+++ ABOUT US
Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com)
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