Olympics: Surfing medals to be decided early, softball in focus as storm churns off Japan

Rough seas during the Men's Round 3 of Surfing at the Tsurigasaki Surfing​ Beach in Ichinomiya, Japan, on July 26, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Tokyo Olympic organisers on Monday (July 26) moved the medal events in the surfing competition a day earlier than scheduled, marking the latest change to the programme caused by tropical storm Nepartak as it churned toward Japan's main island.

The storm is expected to head over Japan's northeast coast on Tuesday and could dump heavy rain on the capital just days after the start of the Games.

The medal heats for surfing, making its Olympic debut in Tokyo, were due to be held on Wednesday, but the strong swell provided by the Nepartak is expected to abate by then and impact the waves, prompting organisers to move them forward by a day.

The rain also threatens Tuesday's two medal games for softball. Canada, vying for bronze, said their flights home are scheduled for Wednesday with the next available potentially not until Saturday because the pandemic has limited options.

But their accommodation need to be taken over by newly arriving athletes sooner.

"We very much hope the game goes on tomorrow," said coach Mark Smith.

"We don't have a lot of flexibility."

Postponement would give athletes recovery time after five games in six steaming days, but Canada pitcher Danielle Lawrie said she could do without.

She said: "When you're in the last four teams standing, you're running on some adrenaline.

"Once you get warmed up and ready for battle, you forget how all of that feels." Rowing events have been moved, with Tuesday's rowing races rescheduled for later in the week.

A spokesman for Tokyo 2020 said earlier on Monday that there were no immediate plans to change the schedule for other events.

The storm is forecast to pass to the north of Tokyo, according to the website of the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The likely wind and rain will follow intense heat, which has caused one Olympic archer to collapse and had skateboarders complaining of unbearable conditions by 9am.

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