The last time Tokyo hosted the games, officials moved the event to October due to similar concerns over the sweltering summer.
Manufacturers have long used Hexagon’s simulation software across various industries, from designing air conditioning systems to understanding driver comfort and even making more efficient tumble dryers. But this year, engineers from Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division used its innovative Cradle computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation software to highlight the dangerous conditions that faced athletes at the Tokyo Games.
To create the simulation, engineers combined Hexagon’s CFD technology, including its JOS-2 Joint System Thermoregulation Model (JOS model), developed with a research group at Waseda University in Japan, to shed light on concerns expressed by experts over the decision to hold this year’s games during Tokyo’s sweltering summer. The last time Tokyo hosted the games, in 1964, officials moved the event to October due to similar concerns over the heat. This year, despite Tokyo’s average temperatures in late July and early August being the highest of any host city since 1984, the games continued.
Hexagon’s engineers simulated that even under average conditions of 27 degrees C (80.6 F) and 70 per cent humidity, runners in the 10,000m race (the longest track-based race) could experience core temperatures above 39 degrees C (102.3 F). Core temperatures in the range of 32-40 degrees (90-105F) can result in serious heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke. These gruelling conditions have affected athletes across a variety of sports, with triathletes, archers and tennis players using makeshift solutions to combat the temperatures that rose to a heat index warmer than 40.5 degrees C (105 F) during the Games.
“There’s been much discussion about the decision to hold the Games in the Tokyo summer. These simulations show the extreme conditions that athletes competed under. Athletes are accustomed to pushing themselves to the limits and these simulations show how racing conditions impact performance as well as the risks undertaken when the human body is pushed to extremes,” said Keith Hanna, VP Marketing for Design & Engineering, Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division. “What’s most interesting is the small margins of change – a couple of degrees shift in temperature can have a huge impact, so it’s only a matter of time to see whether we edge over that 39 degree C core temperature ‘tipping point’.”
Read more about how even the slightest temperature change can significantly affect these athletes. And click here to learn more about Hexagon’s highly reliable CFD simulation software, which is currently used by industry leaders, such as Samsung, Toyota and Airbus.