Tropical Storm Nepartak Bears Down on Japan as Olympics Begin, Putting Events Possibly At Risk

The Tokyo Olympics got underway Friday, but a tropical storm could start disrupting competition as soon as Monday

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The Tokyo Olympics are just getting underway, and in addition to facing obstacles from COVID, there may be a weather threat as well.

Tropical Storm Nepartak formed in the Philippine Sea, southeast of Japan and just north of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, a forecasting center in Hawaii operated by the U.S. Navy.

As of Friday afternoon (in New York), the JTWC said that the storm had sustained winds of 40 mph, and could bring winds topping 50 mph to Japan on Monday or Tuesday next week, as it makes landfall north of Tokyo. While it is not expected to strengthen into a typhoon (the equivalent to a hurricane for storms in the Atlantic Ocean), it can't be ruled out just yet.

tropical storm map
US Navy
Warning graphic for Tropical Storm Nepartak as of 5pm ET on July 23.

There are currently no storm watches or warnings issued in Japan.

There is still a lot of uncertainty regarding the storm, including its path and intensity. The JTWC said that the storm's path will become much clearer after it makes an expected turn to the northwest in the coming days. Until then, the storm's track won't be certain, but the forecasted intensity of the storm will likely remain the same.

Sports that are most at risk of being impacted include any in the water, including surfing, rowing and sailing. Depending on the intensity of the storm, indoor events could be at risk as well, as a powerful enough storm with strong winds and rain could lead to power outages from downed trees and wires, as well as flash flooding.

Still, some were seemingly looking forward to the forecast. Australian surfer Owen Wright said in an Instagram post that he had just completed a warm-up session, calling the waves "small," but also seemingly looked forward to the possibility that "there is swell on the way!"

Weather is already playing a part in the early events and warm-ups for the Olympics, the extreme Japan heat in particular. A Russian archer collapsed in the hot weather while talking to a teammate after finishing the qualifying round Friday.

Temperatures in Tokyo were above 86 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat in Tokyo’s summer months already prompted organizers to move the marathons and race-walking events to the cooler city of Sapporo.

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