Olympic Games' medics handle increasing heat-related illnesses as temperatures rise

Heatstroke and COVID-19 can have similar symptoms, making the job even harder at this year's Games, which are expected to be the most hottest and humid on record


By Jessie Forand

TOKYO, Japan — Medics at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo are working to combat mother nature in order to keep athletes safe and healthy.

In addition to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, The Cut reported high temperatures pose a real risk.

Members of Australia's men's rugby sevens team soak in ice baths following practice in the midday heat at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, in Tokyo, Friday, July 23, 2021.
Members of Australia's men's rugby sevens team soak in ice baths following practice in the midday heat at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, in Tokyo, Friday, July 23, 2021. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Sports played on courts or tracks present further health risks, as they make the already hot weather feel even hotter.

Tennis player Paula Badosa, of Spain, said from a wheelchair, “I have suffered a heat stroke as you all have seen. It was a shame to end my participation this way. The conditions have been demanding from day one, we tried to adapt as best as possible, but today the body has not resisted as needed.”

According to NHK, “Medics will have to monitor if athletes, officials and volunteers are suffering heatstroke.” Similar symptoms of COVID-19 and heatstroke, including fatigue and fever, could make diagnosis even harder, the outlet reported.

NPR reported this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games were expected to be one of the hottest and most humid on record — bringing with high temperatures the threat of dehydration, fatigue and heatstroke.

Dorian Coninx of France takes water as a volunteer holds out a bag of ice, during the run portion of the men's individual triathlon at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.
Dorian Coninx of France takes water as a volunteer holds out a bag of ice, during the run portion of the men's individual triathlon at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Paralympians may face even more challenges, NPR reported.

"You have to figure out different ways to cool yourself," said Ryan Pinney, an American handcyclist.

A volunteer sprays water on children as they use umbrellas to beat the heat outside the Fuji International Speedway, the finish for the women's cycling road race that is underway, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 25, 2021, in Oyama, Japan. 
A volunteer sprays water on children as they use umbrellas to beat the heat outside the Fuji International Speedway, the finish for the women's cycling road race that is underway, at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 25, 2021, in Oyama, Japan.  (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

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