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Money First for a Midsummer Olympics? Just Can't Say No to Those American TV Dollars

In the "Why Is the News?" series the editors of the Nihon Keizai Newspaper look at the reasons underlying current news topics. This time they examine the Tokyo Olympics being held in the middle of summer.

Question: It's two years until the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. For both athletes and spectators, the toughest competition will be against the heat. Why can't the Olympics be held at a different time?

Answer: The Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 24 to August 9. They are expected to be a hot summer Olympics. With Japan's high humidity there is tremendous risk of heat stroke, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called the need to take measures to protect athletes and audience alike "an urgent task."

No event will be impacted more than the marathon. To ameliorate the situation for the athletes, the start time has been moved up half an hour from the original plan to 7:00 a.m., and Tokyo is introducing special heat-reducing pavement an…
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2018 Jakarta Asian Games - Japanese National Team Roster

The 2018 Jakarta Asian Games are underway, with athletics competition set to kick off Saturday morning with the men's marathon. 23 women and 35 men will represent Japan in what may be the best approximation in the next two years of the conditions they're likely to face at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

It's a national team with strong contenders in certain events and gaping holes elsewhere. The women's racewalk squad is very thin at only one entrant and no women are competing in any jumps, while no Japanese men are entered in the 5000 m or 10000 m. All the development in men's distance seems to be channelled into the marathon, where Japan may have one of its best gold medal chances in 2:06:54 man Hiroto Inoue. No Japanese man has won gold in the marathon at the Asian Games since Takayuki Nakayama set the still-standing Games record of 2:08:21 at the 1986 Seoul Asian Games. Given the heat and humidity of Jakarta Inoue is unlikely to touch that kind of time, but his chanc…

Kawauchi Wins Nemuro Seaside Half, Gets a Whole Crab

The 2nd Nemuro Seaside Half Marathon took place under the blue skies of summer along the Nemuro Peninsula, the participating runners traversing the extremity Japan's northeastern coast. 1053 people were entered in the event's half marathon, 10 km, 5 km, 3 km and 1 km divisions, an increase from last year. Every finisher received an entire hanasaki crab, the seasonal local specialty giving more than enough motivation to spur them on to the finish line.

In the day's main race, the half marathon, 417 people were entered. Lining up alongside guest runner Yuki Kawauchi, they shot out across the starting line with the firing of the gun at 9:00 a.m. sharp. From views of the Pacific Ocean in the first half they passed through a pastoral dairy farmland scene in the middle of the race and on to the panorama of the Sea of Okhotsk in the second half before a finish line in the heart of the town. Kawauchi was first to the finish line in 1:06:39. Whether first or last, everyone in the …

Kurgat Conquers Hiroshima XC

On a beautiful sunny late summer's day newly Japan-based Kenyan Amos Kurgat (Chudenko) had no trouble taking down the field to win the senior men's 8 km at the 19th Hiroshima Cross Country Meet. Solo the entire way, Kurgat was the only runner under 24 minutes at 23:43.

The only collegiate runner in the top 20, Ryosuke Nara, son of Daito Bunka University head coach Osamu Nara, took 2nd almost a minute back in 24:34 well ahead of his nearest corporate league competitor Shoma Yamamoto. Twins Kenta and Kota Otani (JFE Steel) were 7th and 8th just 5 seconds apart.

19th Hiroshima Cross Country MeetHiroshima, 8/18/18

Senior Men's 8 km
1. Amos Kurgat (Chudenko) - 23:43
2. Ryosuke Nara (Daito Bunka Univ.) - 24:34
3. Shoma Yamamoto (NTT Nishi Nihon) - 24:53
4. Kyosuke Nishioka (Chudenko) - 24:57
5. Shunya Suo (Mazda) - 25:06
6. Yamato Otsuka (NTT Nishi Nihon) - 25:07
7. Kenta Otani (JFE Steel) - 25:08
8. Kota Otani (JFE Steel) - 25:13
9. Shuji Matsuo (Chudenko) - 25:17
10. Go Nakaga…

On Broadcast Commentary

It's been 122 days since the 122nd Boston Marathon. Of what the two exceptional people who won that day accomplished, WilliamShakespeare summed it up better than any other commentator in his Sonnet 122:

Beyond all date, even to eternity;
     Or at the least, so long as brain and heart
     Have faculty by nature to subsist;
     Till each to razed oblivion yield his part
     Of thee, thy record never can be miss'd.

What else needs to be said? But the other thing that remains from that day is, of course, this:

Worst punditry ever? — Xempo Running (@xempouk) April 16, 2018
In the 122 days since Boston this clip has been on my mind a lot. The commentary here by Larry Rawson and Al Trautwig was exceptionally bad, but it wasn't unique to them and highlighted many of the problems with marathon TV broadcasts and especially their hosts and commentators. I'm fortunate to live in Japan where the announcers for the countless marathon live TV broadcas…

The Asian Games Marathon Course: An Early Morning Start for Loops of the City's Main Roads

Its skyline punctuated by skyscrapers demonstrating Indonesia's economic ascension. A lush plaza holding a famed tower, the symbol of the metropolis. When Jakarta hosts the Asian Games next week its marathon course will loop around the city's main streets, starting and finishing from the Games' main venue, Gelola Bungarno Stadium. In light of the heat and humidity of the races' summertime dates, Aug. 25 for men and 26 for women, the marathons will get off to early starts at 6:00 a.m. local time, 8:00 a.m. Japan time.

Leaving the stadium for the main streets, the Jakarta course turns to the north before turning back. Each of the two loops is about 20 km, both mostly flat and straight with the only hills coming in the gentle climbs onto and off the waterway bridges that dot the route. At a rotary about 5 km from the start, runners are greeted by a statue of a man and woman built in 1962 the last time Jakarta hosted the Asian Games. Running on amid the highrises, around …

Tokyo Experiments With Spraying Water Along 2020 Marathon Course to Combat Heat

As part of its measures to deal with the hot conditions expected at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, on Aug. 13 the Tokyo Metropolitan Government conducted an experiment to measure the effects on pavement surface temperature of spraying the road surface with water. Data from the experiments were released to the media.

The experiment was conducted from 4:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. along a 120 m section of sidewalk along Uchibori Street in the Imperial Palace's outer gardens in Chiyoda Ward.  In the experiment, open-ended tubes used in agricultural work eres placed at the edge of the sidewalk  to supply water. Surface temperature readings were taken every 30 minutes for three different experimental scenarios:
spraying water beginning at 4:00 a.m.spraying water beginning at 7:00 a.m.not spraying any water The experiment found that where water had been sprayed, the road surface temperature remained in the 27 to 29˚C range even when the air temperature exceeded 30˚C. Where no wa…

Yoshinori Sakai, the Final 1964 Olympic Torchbearer

72,000 paris of eyes followed a lone 19-year-old Waseda University student as he circled the track at the Olympic Stadium with effortless grace. The date was October 10, 1964, the opening day of the Tokyo Olympics. The runner was Yoshinori Sakai, the final Olympic torchbearer. Step by step he climbed the 182 stairs and, extending his right arm, ignited the flame that burst forth from the Olympic cauldron. Below him spread a sea of multicolored uniforms, and beyond the assembled teams stretched the horizons of a Tokyo in a time before modern high rise buildings. "It was the best seat in the house," Sakai recalled.

Sakai was born in Miyoshi, Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 just an hour and a half after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The perfect symbol of recovery from defeat, the foreign media dubbed him "Atomic Boy," but Sakai told foreign journalists, "The war has nothing to do with me. Please look at who I am now, today, not at the past."

Sakai b…