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Monday, 22 August 2016 15:59

Olympic Athletes Challenged By New Opponent: Global Warming Featured

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Climate change warnings
poignantly made during the
Olympic Games opening ceremony
on Friday are likely to resonate
with athletes as they struggle to
train and compete in Brazil’s tropical
Marathon runners, swimmers,
volleyball players and even
soccer referees will succumb to extreme
temperatures and lose concentration
during the games, in
some cases risking their lives to
heatstroke, according to a report
released Monday by Observatorio
do Clima, a Brazilian civil society
“Because of warming, sport
will never be the same again,” and
fewer records than in previous
games are likely to fall as a result,
the report said.
Global warming was a key theme
of the opening ceremony, featuring
maps, charts and graphics of rising
global temperatures, melting polar
ice caps and rising sea levels encroaching
on cities from Amsterdam
to Shanghai.
Brazil heated up faster than
the global average, warming 1 degrees
Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit)
in the last 54 years, and four
cities smashed new heat records in
2015, according to the report. If
countries don’t deliver on goals to
limit global temperature rises to
“well below” 2 degrees Celsius, 12
Brazilian cities may have to limit
play in similar games by the end of
the decade, it said.
Rising Heat
Sharply higher temperatures
so far haven’t impacted this
year’s Olympiad, according to Jose
Marengo, a climate scientist at the
Brazilian government’s National
Center for Monitoring Warning of
Natural Disasters. Temperatures in
Rio could climb to about 30 degrees
Celsius on Aug. 15 from
about about 24 degrees Celsius on
Monday, according to Accuweather.
Even though the games are
taking place during Brazil’s winter,
the heat may still impede performance,
particularly in the marathon
where Olympic records have only
been broken in temperatures below
12 degrees Celsius. Runners perform
best between 8 degrees and
11 degrees, well below the level
expected this month in Brazil, the
report said.
Over the coming years, athletes
are likely to “give into fatigue
earlier on, even if they remain in
the competition until the end,” according
to the report.
‘Fade Out’
The next Olympic Games
in Tokyo in 2020 could more heatwaves
because climate change
tends to create hotter summers and
colder winters, Marengo said. Temperatures
in the Japanese capital
may top 36 degrees Celsius this
week, according to AccuWeather.
“Temperatures are getting
higher and heatwaves are getting
more frequent,” Marengo said.
“We don’t see many studies showing
how this heat stress will impact
people working outdoors.”
Jessica Shankleman

Read 2303 times Last modified on Monday, 22 August 2016 16:02

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