This summer’s deadly heatwaves in Japan have caused government and Olympic officials to consider the benefits of adopting daylight savings time for the 2020 Summer Olympics to ensure athlete safety. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ordered his ruling party to consider what impacts a two hour shift forward would have on the country after backlash on social media followed the announcement.
Adopting daylight savings time would allow events such as the marathon to be scheduled in the cooler morning hours. Masa Takaya, spokesperson for the 2020 games, urged the time push, saying it would also “help protect the environment and realize a low-carbon society in Japan,” alongside other efforts to add more plant life and heat-inhibiting pavements in the city.
Although the time shift would provide both energy-saving and safety measures in the face of climate change, many citizens are protesting that the change would result in longer working hours for them. This is not a light claim made by the Japanese labor force, as a 2017 report by BBC News revealed that most individuals in the nation clock in more than 80 hours of overtime each month.
Japan has not used the daylight savings system since the U.S. Occupation following World War II from 1948 until 1952. The event, a sour subject for many Japanese, also impeded initiatives during the 1970s and early 2000s to return to the system in the hopes of conserving energy in the country.
The 2020 Summer Olympics are set to be held in Tokyo from July 24 until August 9, 2020, followed by the Paralympics from August 25 until September 6. As these are typically the hottest months of the year and likely to become hotter with global warming, the decision to enforce daylights savings time in Japan weighs very precariously in the balance for now.
Image via T-Mizo