Olympians ‘embracing the chaos’ as a tropical storm approaches Japan

·2 min read

TOKYO — A tropical storm is expected to make landfall early Wednesday on Japan’s main island, likely bringing heavy rain, extreme winds and high waves to Tokyo.

Because of course.

Tropical Storm Nepartak is on track to hit around 3 a.m. Wednesday near Kesennuma, roughly 200 miles north of Tokyo, according to an alert from the U.S. Embassy. High winds with gusts up to 78 mph and rough seas are expected starting Tuesday.

The Japanese media is referring to the storm as a typhoon, a tropical cyclone that often develops in the Northwestern Pacific.

In a postponed Summer Games taking place against the public wishes and without any fans, athletes are responding to the forecast with a shrug. After the past 16 months, few things can surprise them.

“A typhoon can definitely throw a curveball, but I think that that’s what a part of it is,” said U.S. Olympian Haley Batten ahead of Tuesday afternoon’s mountain bike race. “We’re not training for a certain scenario. We are training adaptability and training our mind to be ready for that as well. It definitely makes the event even more exciting, so I’m just embracing the chaos.”

No athletes, however, have opened their arms wider to the weather than the surfers. Higher waves will bring higher scores as the sport makes its Olympic debut.

“There’s actually a lot of opportunities out there because the typhoon has brought in a bit of swell,” Australian surfer Stephanie Gilmore said. “With this wind, it actually sort of breaks up the waves and it allows the surfers to move around the lineup and get more opportunities, which is actually a good thing.”

Rowing and archery both rescheduled competitions ahead of the weather. The women’s triathlon, meanwhile, took place amid an occasional driving rain Tuesday morning, making for slick road conditions in the bike and running portions.

U.S. sailor Maggie Shea of Wilmette was set to begin the first race in her Olympic regatta Tuesday afternoon in Enoshima Yacht Harbour. In preparation for these Games, she and teammate Stephanie Roble trained in Portugal, where the high waves and winds would give them the best opportunity to simulate Japan’s typhoon-angered waters.

“We’re prepared for anything it could throw at us,” Shea told the Tribune before leaving for Tokyo.

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