The stifling heat of the Tokyo summer has
already prompted the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to
insist organizers move next year's marathon and race walking
events to the cooler northern island of Hokkaido.
Shigefumi Matsuzawa, a member of Japan's House of Councillors,
has now written to IOC President Bach outlining his concerns
about Kasumigaseki Golf Club, which is located inland in Saitama
Prefecture, about 50km northwest of central Tokyo.
"The issue of measures against extremely hot weather is an
especially serious problem," Matsuzawa wrote in an Oct. 25
letter obtained by Reuters.
"In 2017, a research team from Tokyo Metropolitan University
published a paper ... with observation results indicating that
Kawagoe City in Saitama Prefecture, where Kasumigaseki is
located, is the hottest place in Japan.
"The period between late July and early August is the hottest
period in Japan's summer, and so it is no exaggeration to say
that forcibly holding an outdoor sporting event in the hottest
region of Japan at this time is extremely irresponsible."
The IOC's decision to insist on the marathon and walk events
being moved north has infuriated the governor of Tokyo Yuriko
Koike, who said the capital city had invested a lot of time and
money into preparing anti-heat measures.
When contacted on Thursday, Tokyo 2020 organizers were unable to
immediately offer comment on the letter.
Matsuzawa said his concern was not only for the golfers but for
volunteers and spectators without clubhouse access who, he
wrote, would have nowhere to escape the heat and humidity.
The average temperature over the past three years during the
scheduled competition dates -- July 30 to Aug. 2 for men and
Aug. 5 to 8 for women -- had been 31.7 degrees Celsius (89F), he
Extrapolating from past figures, Matsuzawa estimated that up to
1,250 people could suffer from heat stroke during the eight days
of the golf competition.
"Ambulances and hospitals will be unable to cope and with heat
stroke patients collapsing one after the other, the possibility
of fatalities occurring cannot be ruled out," he added.
Matsuzawa, who was governor of Kanagawa Prefecture from
2003-2011, recommended moving the golf to Wakasu Golf Links
adjacent to Tokyo Bay, where temperatures at that time of year
are on average four degrees Celsius cooler than Kasumigaseki.
Alternatively, he wrote, the central mountain regions of Hakone
and Nagano, or even Hokkaido, would also be suitable.
This is not the first controversy involving the Kasumigaseki
The club scrapped its male-only membership in March 2017 after
the IOC stated it would find another venue if the policy
remained in place. The club said in May 2018 that it had granted
three women full memberships.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanís Prime Minister Shinzo
Abe played a round of golf at the club in Nov. 2017.
(Additional reporting by Jack Tarrant and Elaine Lies, editing
by Nick Mulvenney and Peter Rutherford)
[© 2019 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2019 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.