Athlete vs. Heat

Scorching conditions are increasingly common at sporting events, creating risks and challenges for athletes.

Overheated athlete

Ryan Moshinsky, a 50-mile runner, douses his head with water after finishing the race. At 21, he was the youngest ultra runner in the field. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

From community races to the Olympics to the World Cup, event organizers are already having to make adjustments to competition schedules and start times. And athletes around the world are having to take more precautions as science and technology evolve to help them cope with the heat — or, in some cases, gain a competitive advantage.

Events such as tennis’s Australian Open have instituted safety measures to account for extreme heat. The International Olympic Committee and FIFA have formed committees to study heat-related issues at major events. Next summer’s Olympics in humid Tokyo will feature a marathon that starts at 6 a.m.

This year’s track and field world championships are in scorching-hot Qatar, where organizers will start the marathon at midnight. The World Cup men’s soccer tournament, which usually takes place in June every four years, has been pushed back to November and December when Qatar hosts in 2022 in hopes of cooler weather.

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