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Storm remains threat for many Olympic events, bringing rain as it lurks off coast

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A storm off Japan’s east coast disrupted some events at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday but spared the host city the devastating winds and rain that were initially feared.

Wind and rain sweeping Tokyo Bay delayed the start of the women’s triathlon early in the morning, before Flora Duffy snagged Bermuda’s first-ever Olympic gold medal.

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Sun emerged just after Canada beat Mexico for the softball bronze, playing through a steady drizzle and the strongest gusts of the tournament in Yokohama, just south of Tokyo. Technicians had removed the two dozen outdoor television monitors used to watch replays, and ushers handed out ponchos to media and officials in the spectator-less stadium.

Surfing organizers moved the semifinals and finals to Tuesday from Wednesday to take advantage of larger waves spurred by the storm, but conditions were far from ideal. Strong winds created an unruly afternoon lineup that proved something of a leveler for competitors, contributing to some upset results.

Japan’s hot, wet, and unstable summer weather patterns have been a persistent concern for the Games, which opened on Friday, compounding difficulties for an Olympics being held under a COVID-19 state of emergency.

Tropical storm Nepartak had affected schedules for surfing, archery, and triathlon, but the “rest of competition schedules remains as planned”, said Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Masa Takaya.

Tokyo was forecast to receive up 35 mm (1.4 inches) of rain over 24 hours from tropical storm Nepartak, now forecast to make landfall in the north early Wednesday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. It was headed toward Sendai, 370 km (230 miles) up the coast from Tokyo, according to the Tropical Storm Risk monitoring site.

Although Tokyo avoided a predicted overnight deluge, Nepartak remained a tropical storm, able to pack winds up to 118 kph (73 mph), as it meandered off Japan’s east coast, rather than weakening to a tropical depression while ploughing northwest, as earlier forecast.

The storm had earlier disrupted the schedules of rowing and archery. The men’s triathlon went ahead on Monday.

Overall, athletes could welcome a slight respite from the extreme heat that had earlier caused an Olympic archer to collapse. Tuesday’s forecast high temperature was 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), below recent highs of 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit)

The Japanese army said it was monitoring the situation, ready to deploy its FAST-force disaster troops if needed. South of Tokyo, the authorities were warning residents to prepare for more heavy rain after 21 people died in mudslides from torrential rains early this month.

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