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World will get too hot for Olympics: study

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 11/08/2016

By the end of the century most of the world will be too hot to host the Olympics in summer, researchers say.

A study from the University of Auckland has found by 2085 almost 90 per cent of the large cities in the Northern Hemisphere will be so affected by climate change, the temperature and humidity will be too high to safely run a marathon in summer.

But epidemiology and biostatistics professor Alistair Woodward, who co-authored the study, says where to host the Olympics would only be the start of the problem for outdoor exercise in the future.

"Increasing restrictions on when, where, and how the Games can be held owing to extreme heat are a sign of a much bigger problem," he said.

"If the world's most elite athletes need to be protected from climate change, what about the rest of us?"

The study found only three cities in North America, two in Asia and none in Africa would be considered "low-risk" for outdoor exercise in the future.

"Projections to early next century suggest the last cities with low-risk summer conditions will be Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh and Glasgow," Prof Woodward said.

The study, published on Friday in The Lancet, is a collaboration with the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology and universities in Cyprus and California.

Prof Woodward said some parts of the world already had temperatures too high to do strenuous exercise outdoors - as measured by a combination of temperature, humidity, heat radiation, and wind - and climate change would mean more regions would get worse for more of the year.

"The world beyond 2050 poses increasingly difficult challenges, not only because of the inherent uncertainties in long-term predictions, but because the extent and speed of change might exceed society's ability to adapt," he said.

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