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Not even at the top of Mount Fuji can you find snow in Japan in August, but don’t be surprised if you see some flurries at the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Organizers have been testing artificial snow machines to see if they can sufficiently cool temperatures and lower humidity for spectators. At the canoe/kayak Olympic test event earlier this month, with temperatures in the high 70s, snow machines sprayed more than 600 pounds of the white stuff over fans at the Sea Forest Waterway venue.
While the snow didn’t have any noticeable effect on the conditions — the air temperature remained unchanged — organizers believed that the snow still brings a refreshing effect by falling on the crowd, not to mention a bit of amusement at the sight of snow in the height of Japanese summer.
Spectators react to sprayed artificial snow from snow-making machines to ease heat during a canoe sprint test event for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Sept. 13, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan.
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Organizers plan to do more tests and haven’t decided one way or another whether the snow machines will be used. But the technology has been used successfully in the past at other venues such as music festivals. Either way, artificial snow is just one of many methods being tested to mitigate the effects of the blazing Japanese sun. Water misters, earlier start times for events and even the distribution of sun-shading umbrella hats are in the works.
Heat in Japan is no joke — temperatures regularly reach the mid-90s with humidity of 80 percent or more. A heatwave this past July sent thousands to the hospital. So, while snow in August may seem silly, organizers plan to test any and every method that might help fans and athletes stay safe.
Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.