Tokyo: World number one Novak Djokovic said on Saturday he plans to arrive in Japan early after Wimbledon next year to acclimatise himself to the extreme heat during the Tokyo Olympics.
The Serbian star urged tennis authorities to find a way to organise matches to minimise harm from the heat, with many experts warning that Tokyo summer temperatures and high humidity may physically impact players, fans and volunteers.
"I just hope that ITF (International Tennis Federation) will manage to find the right schedule," said Djokovic after winning his Japan Open semi-final against David Goffin. "There will be a lot of matches, a lot of players: men, women, doubles, mixed doubles. All of that needs to be played within... less than 10 days or so.
"It's quite a challenge for the organisation to come up with the right schedule, I guess, where you avoid the biggest heat, but how can you really do it? That's the question."
Tokyo's notorious summer heat has become a major headache for organisers, who are rushing to devise mitigation measures, including bringing forward the start time for several events and even mulling the use of artificial snow.
Still, many test events over the past summer had to take place under conditions regarded as "dangerous" for exercise, according to the internationally accepted WBGT index that measures heat and humidity.
"Some matches have to be played at 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm. And with heat, it is going to be very, very tough for players and for fans or for anybody who is in the stadium," Djokovic said.
Tennis matches at the Tokyo Olympics will start roughly two weeks after Wimbledon ends, putting extra pressure on top players. "When you add Olympic Games to the already congested season, it's quite challenging," Djokovic said.
But he remains eager to represent his country at the Olympics, telling reporters earlier in the week that he hopes to do better than the bronze, which he won at the 2008 Beijing Games. "I am committed. I am planning to be here and play. I will try to stay healthy, fit and come to Tokyo obviously," Djokovic said.
"I will definitely try everything that I possibly can to prepare myself. The most important thing, I feel... is preparation and getting yourself fit and climatise and adapt," he added.
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Updated Date: Oct 05, 2019 18:16:35 IST