Tokyo 2020: British Olympic Association says 'no higher priority' than safety after athletes 'display heatstroke symptoms'

The British Olympic Association insists there is ‘no higher priority’ than the safety of its athletes after a British rower was one of three individuals to be treated for apparent heat exhaustion at a Tokyo 2020 test event on Sunday.

The unnamed athlete was taken to a medical station following the race at Sea Forest Waterway, where the rowing events in next year’s Olympics will take place.

He was said to be unable to move as both he and the other two athletes showed signs of heatstroke following the world junior rowing championships event.

A spokesperson told Yahoo Sport UK that the BOA are working with subject experts to ensure there is appropriate preparation ahead of next summer’s event.

They said: “For the British Olympic Association, we have no higher priority than the safety and health of our athletes and delegation and we are working with subject matter experts from across the elite sport landscape to ensure that the delegation are appropriately prepared for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games next summer.”

The incidents resulted in medical experts reportedly calling for more measures to mitigate the force of the extreme summer conditions ahead of 2020.

At the moment ice baths and cooling sprays are in effect but are deemed inadequate.

Rowers were left struggling against the soaring temperatures at the 2019 World Rowing Junior Championships. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
It has increased fears over athlete and spectator safety - particularly regarding a stand which is only half-covered (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

While one called for a space with ‘proper equipment’ for athletes to cool off, a Japanese rowing official implored organisers to ensure all seats were covered.

The official said: “The international rowing federation is also saying a roof is absolutely necessary, even if it is of the simplest design.”

The extreme heat, which reached 33.7C before 10am on the day of the event, has been a constant source of concern ahead of sport’s showpiece competition.

August has seen average highs of 34.8C through the month so far and amid similar safety fears, the start times for the Olympics’ marathons have been moved to 6am to counteract the heat.

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