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Scorching heat, excessive rain & typhoons: Global warming plays spoilsport at sporting gigs

Drastic increases in temperature will add to the health dangers for players.

, ET Bureau|
Oct 21, 2019, 09.07 AM IST
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The biggest challenge for the sports world will come in 2022 when Qatar hosts the football World Cup.
When climate change is being termed humanity’s most pressing challenge, how can sports be far behind? The sporting world has already been on the receiving end of poor scheduling, with several marquee events being ruined by inclement weather. And as former Australian cricket legend Ian Chappell wrote recently, “…drastic increases in temperature will add to the health dangers for players. If temperatures keep rising, players will need to be protected from heat-stroke or more lasting skin-cancer damage.”

Heatwave makes them sweat
The World Athletics Championships, held last month in Doha, was supposed to be the pinnacle of track and field. But it was reduced to a damp squib, given the temperatures. Several events took place in near-empty stadiums, while even more worrying was the sight of athletes collapsing due to the heat.

The heat inside the main Khalifa Stadium wasn’t a concern, since it was artificially cooled to a pleasant 21 degrees. However, athletes needed to practice at outdoor facilities or on roads, which was tough.

But the biggest challenge for the sports world will come in 2022 when Qatar hosts the football World Cup. Organisers have sought to allay fears by saying matches will be played in indoor stadiums. But some fans have asked how would they get an entire country air-conditioned?
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The sporting world has already been on the receiving end of poor scheduling, with several marquee events being ruined by inclement weather.

Rain, rain, go away
It rained so heavily in Karachi last month that an ODI between Pakistan and Sri Lanka was postponed with two more days to go. Even the ICC saw the humour in the situation: “Have you ever heard of rain so heavy it washes out a game two days away?” it asked on Twitter.

Cricket is no stranger to rain, of course. Even the World Cup final, the most prestigious event in the sport, was marred by rain in 2007. The match, shortened to a 38-over affair following heavy rain, was further revised to 36 overs. It eventually ended in near darkness, with officials copping much of the criticism for their poor handling of the situation.

Earlier this year, four matches of the World Cup were cancelled due to rain, the highest number of rain-induced cancellations in its 44-year history.

A typhoon is on its way
The Rugby World Cup’s group stages and the Japanese Grand Prix were both impacted last week. Best laid plans had to be hastily tweaked as Typhoon Hagibis made landfall. Formula One made a break from tradition; Saturday qualifying was cancelled, and it took place on Sunday morning instead, just hours before the race itself. And three matches of the Rugby World Cup stood cancelled, the first time in the tournament’s 32-year history. Thankfully, however, the one match which nearly led to a legal case against the organisers took place. With dark clouds looming over the Japan vs Scotland match, a cancellation would have meant the Scots exit the tournament. And they threatened to move court if this were to happen. Fortunately, the clouds moved away in time for the match to proceed, and Japan won.

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