India Had Great Olympics. Is This the Beginning of a New Era?

Neeraj Chopra won a historic gold medal in the men’s javelin event in Tokyo, bringing the country’s Olympics performance to a stunning conclusion. The 22-year-old athlete’s gold medal, India’s first in a track and field event since gaining independence from Britain, capped off the country’s best-ever showing at the Games, which included seven medals.

Neeraj Chopra throwing a javelin at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

When Chopra arrived in New Delhi, India’s capital, a crowd flocked to the airport to see their new national hero. Huge crowds encircling the athlete had come to signify what the athlete’s win meant for the world’s second most populated country.

Recovery Still in Progress

India’s historic Olympics medal haul comes as the country continues to recover from the terrible effects of the pandemic’s second wave. According to research from Johns Hopkins University, the country has seen over 428,000 deaths and about 32 million infections, putting hospitals on the verge of collapse and overwhelming the country’s healthcare system.

Supporters of India's athlete Neeraj Chopra celebrate after he won the gold medal in the men's javelin throw during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Against this occurrence, Indian athletes have managed to rekindle a sense of national pride in a country that is still in sorrow.

India with a Bronze Medal in Men’s Field Hockey

India won bronze in men’s field hockey, their first medal in the sport in 41 years, after defeating Germany. Despite losing to Britain in the bronze medal match, the women’s team garnered admiration and appreciation from millions around the country. In five additional events, the country received silver or bronze medals.

Young athletes in New Delhi on the TV as the wrestler Ravi Kumar Dahiya takes home the bronze medal in his weight category in Tokyo. Great Success on the Olympics

India’s success has drawn attention to the country’s comparatively inadequate athletic infrastructure, as well as the numerous obstacles that Indian athletes endure, including the fact that many are not full-time athletes.

Many people are hoping that India’s Olympics success this year will herald in a new age in sports, one in which its athletes are given opportunities to flourish and grow.

Chopra’s victory in the Olympics, according to Bandana Chhetri, a partner at FairPlay Sports, which manages elite Indian athletes, will be a “watershed moment” in Indian sports.

The Olympic Athletes Are Competing on an “Urban Heat Island” in Tokyo

Competing in the Tokyo Olympics has been difficult due to nearly unbearable heat and humidity, but the city’s growth is making things considerably worse. NASA’s stark temperature maps of the area reveal insidious phenomena known as the “urban heat island effect.” Tokyo is an urban heat island, which traps heat and exacerbates the situation for athletes and citizens.

The Olympic Athletes Are Competing on an “Urban Heat Island” in TokyoOn its own, the forecast is bad enough. This year’s Olympics could be the warmest ever. Since the beginning of the games, air temperatures have reached 93 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures dropped slightly as a tropical storm passed through, but once it passed, the mercury will rise to blistering levels for the remainder of the week.

Unbearable Heat in Tokyo

Tokyo’s asphalt and large skyscrapers exacerbate the situation by trapping heat. Cities can become several degrees warmer as a result of this, compared to surrounding places with less urban growth and more greenery. (Plants use evapotranspiration to cool a neighborhood, which is comparable to how sweat helps a human chill down.) As a result, large cities like Tokyo become “heat islands” surrounded by cooler neighbors.

This can be seen from space by scientists. NASA’s satellites monitored land surface temperatures, which can reveal how cities’ dark, impermeable surfaces retain heat. They also re-emit that heat, which can affect the weather.

NASA Captured the “Urban Heat Island Effect” Back in 2019

NASA Captured the “Urban Heat Island Effect” Back in 2019The graphics below show how hot Tokyo is in comparison to forested locations. The photographs were taken by NASA in August 2019, on a day that was similar to the weather that competitors will face during the Olympics. Because of cloud cover this summer (the dark blue spot on the map of land surface temperatures is a cloud), NASA was unable to obtain more current photographs, but the transition from colder rural areas to the hotter city that is indicated on the map should be the same this year.

On a micro level, athletes might experience the urban heat island impact. “It’s quite hot, but also extremely humid. The heat is trapped in the hardcourts,” tennis player Novak Djokovic stated on July 24th, according to Reuters. Svetlana Gomboeva, an archer, had been treated for heat exhaustion the day before.

According to NASA’s blog article accompanying the satellite picture, climate change exacerbates the urban heat island effect. Temperatures in Tokyo have climbed by 5.14 degrees Fahrenheit. According to NASA, this is about three times the global average for warming.