Why the Olympics were held in summer

Category: Lifestyle/Entertainment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. slog / slɒg / (n.) – a time of difficult, tiring work or travel

    Work has been a slog this week, so I bought everyone ice cream to increase motivation.

  2. blazing / ˈbleɪ zɪŋ / (adj.) – very hot or bright

    When our car broke down, we had to walk back to town under the blazing sun for hours.

  3. broadcast / ˈbrɔdˌkæst / (v.) – to send out a show or program through radio or television

    The news is broadcast live on Channel 6 every day at seven o’clock.

  4. preexisting / ˈpri ɪgˈzɪs tɪŋ / (adj.) – existing or happening before a particular time or event

    In some countries, health insurance is more expensive if you have a preexisting medical issue when you sign up.

  5. condition / kənˈdɪʃ ən / (n.) – an agreement that something should be done or should exist before another thing is allowed to happen

    Mary agreed to transfer overseas on the condition that her company pays for the international move.


Read the text below.

Temperatures in the mid- to high-30s. Air so humid it felt like a sauna. For many athletes, the Tokyo Olympics were a slog.

So why did they hold the games in the middle of Tokyo’s blazing hot summer? Why not October?

That’s what organizers did for the 1964 Games in Tokyo. The 1968 Games in Mexico City and the 1988 Games in Seoul were also held after those cities’ hottest months. During the ’80s, the games grew wildly popular as a global TV event. U.S. broadcaster ABC paid $225 million (¥24.8 billion) for the rights to broadcast the games.

But the 2000 Games in Sydney — which began on Sept. 15 — saw TV ratings fall. This was partly because almost none of the events were shown live in the U.S. because of the time difference.

But another reason was that the 2000 Games had to compete with American and European sports schedules.

During September and October, the U.S. sports calendar is full of sports, including MLB regular season games and playoffs for the NFL.

“The Summer Olympics are simply of less value if held in October because of preexisting program commitments for sports,” Neal Pilson, the former president of CBS Sports, told Reuters in 2018.

But if the Olympics are held in July and August, there are more people looking for sports to watch. For many countries, this is also when school is out.

In fact, the timing of the 2020 Games was a condition of the International Olympic Committee. The IOC makes money by selling the TV rights to the games. That means that athletes — who get money from sports federations that get money from the IOC — will need to keep one eye on the calendar and another on the weather charts. (T)

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • For many athletes, the Tokyo Olympics were a slog because of the high temperatures and extreme humidity. Do you agree with the decision to hold the Games in July and August? What do you think about the Tokyo committee’s promise of “many days of mild and sunny weather” in their 2013 bid? Why? Discuss.
  • The timing of the 2020 Games was a condition of the IOC. Do you think the IOC holds too much power over the countries chosen to host the games? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • The 2000 Games had to compete with American and European sports schedules. Why do you think many people chose to watch regular sports instead of the Olympics? What sports are regularly on TV in September in your country? Discuss.
  • Another reason for the ratings’ fall was the time difference, which meant that almost none of the events were shown live in the US. Do you agree that most people are less likely to watch sporting events if they’re not shown live? Do you think people felt the same way 30 years ago? Why or why not? Discuss.