Russian Olympic Committee’s Daniil Medvedev advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Olymipcs’ men’s singles tennis tournament on Wednesday, but the biggest competition he stands to beat is the blazing heat at Ariake Tennis Park.
Medvedev struggled in his third-round match against Italy’s Fabio Fognini, taking rests between each point as temperatures soared to 88 degrees Fahrenheit with a heat index of nearly 100 degrees F.
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At one point during the match, the chair umpire asked if Medvedev would be able to continue.
“I can finish the match but I can die,” Medvedev replied. “If I die, are you going to be responsible?”
After two medical timeouts and one visit from a trainer, Medvedev closed out the match with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 win over Fognini.
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Other players have complained to organizers about the unbearable conditions. Spain’s Paula Badosa was forced to retire from her quarterfinal match against Marketa Vondrousova because of heatstroke and was eventually carted off in a wheelchair.
“The conditions are brutal,” Novak Djokovic said. “I’ve played tennis professionally now 20 years and I’ve never faced this kind of conditions in my entire life on a consecutive daily basis.”
In response to the growing criticism and concern for player health, the International Tennis Federation announced Wednesday that matches going forward will be played later in the day to avoid the heat.
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“In the interest of player health and welfare and following extensive consultation, the ITF has announced a change of schedule due to the increasing heat and humidity being experienced in Tokyo, Japan,” the statement read.
Japan is known for experiencing some of its most extreme heat in the months of July and August. Daytime highs regularly hit 95 degrees but have exceeded 104 degrees in some places in recent years.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.