Athletes at the Olympic Games may struggle to break world records as they compete with Brazil’s rising temperatures caused by climate change.
Marathon runners, swimmers, volleyball players and even soccer referees will succumb to extreme heat and lose concentration during the games, in some cases risking their lives to heatstroke, according to a report released Monday by Observatorio do Clima, a Brazilian civil society group.
“Because of warming, sport will never be the same again,” the report said.
Even though the games are taking place during Brazil’s winter, the heat may still impede performance, particularly in the marathon where Olympic records have only been broken in temperatures below 12 degrees Celsius. Runners perform best between 8 degrees and 11 degrees, well below the level expected this month in Brazil, it said.
Over the coming years, athletes are likely to “give into fatigue earlier on, even if they remain in the competition until the end,” according to the report.
The heat is likely to be particularly painful for athletes from colder climates, says Brazilian tennis player Fernando Meligeni. He reckons European players won’t be used to the humidity, which will make them sweat more than usual.
“I believe that the English and the Swedish, for example, will fade out,” Meligeni said, according to the report.