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By 2085 most cities will be too hot to host Summer Olympics

Leeanna McLean
Digital News Reporter

Thursday, August 18, 2016, 3:10 PM - Researchers say by the year 2085, most cities will be unfit to host the Summer Olympics due to rising temperatures fuelled by the changing climate.

The findings published in The Lancet, indicate that only 33 of more than 700 cities in the northern hemisphere will be cool and dry enough to host the games in 2085. The study states Calgary and Vancouver are the only two Canadian cities that will qualify, both of which previously hosted the Winter Olympics in 1988 and 2010.

The recent study focused their research in the Northern Hemisphere, where 90 per cent of the world's population lives. To determine the viability of potential host cities, researchers used a "wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT)," a measurement that combines temperature, humidity, wind and heat radiation. The maximum temperature at which athletes can run a marathon safely is 26oC, according to the research.

RELATED: Olympics: Canadian coach weighs in on Rio water debate

The study referenced the 2007 Chicago Marathon, which was cancelled mid-race after hundreds of runners required medical attention due to the heat. In 2016, nearly 30 per cent of competitors in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Marathon in Los Angeles were not able to finish as the peak temperature rose to 25.6oC.

"It's tricky to measure and tricky to predict, but it's come to be understood as the best indicator of heat stress on the body," Kirk Smith, researcher at the University of California, Berkeley's School of Public Health and the lead author of the study told The Washington Post. "At 98 degrees (37oC) and 100 per cent humidity, you can walk slowly outdoors, but if you try to run, you can actually die. It's a matter of just the basic physics of it."

The findings suggest even with a 10 per cent chance of temperatures exceeding 26oC, the Olympics could not be confidently held.

"You could take a risk, and plan your Olympics, and maybe not get the hot days you expect, but that would be a big risk when there are many billions of dollars at stake," Smith told The Washington Post.

Meanwhile, a study by the University of Waterloo published in 2014 found that out of 19 cities that previously hosted the Winter Olympics, only six would be cold enough and have enough snow to reliably host the Games.

SOURCE: The Washington Post | Study | University of Waterloo 

Watch more: Is a former Canadian Pan Am coach worried for water athletes in Rio?

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