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Tokyo Olympics: Golf caddie suffers heatstroke in searing heat

Team USA’s Lexi Thompson and her caddie Jack Fulghum

Players struggled with sweltering heat at the women’s Olympic golf with American Lexi Thompson’s caddie pulling out with heatstroke on Wednesday.

The afternoon heat index was 41C at the Kasumigaseki Country Club, with players using umbrellas and holding ice against their heads to cool down.

Friday’s forecast has led to Canada and Sweden requesting the women’s football final be delayed from 11am local time.

There have been concerns over player welfare with the current kick-off time.

“Temperatures in Tokyo are set to rise over the next couple of days with daytime highs of 34 or possibly 35C in the capital on Thursday and only a degree or so cooler on Friday, while high humidity is expected too,” says BBC Weather forecaster Nikki Berry.

Berry added that the current temperature was higher than the August average of 31C and the heat could affect the weekend’s marathon and race walk events.

‘I felt light-headed’

On Tuesday, US Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso had to replace her caddie because of the heat, then Thompson lost her caddie, Jack Fughum, on the back nine of Wednesday’s first round.

Fulghum needed medical attention on the 15th hole, meaning US golf team coach Donna Wilkins stepped in to carry Thompson’s bag for the remainder of the round.

“I was so worried about him, it’s so hot out there,” said Thompson, who carded a one-over-par 72.

“I’m from Florida and I’m still not used to that bad of heat.

“I just hope that he’s OK and he gets the hydration he needs, the nutrients tonight to go into the next few days. If not, I’ll figure something else out. I just want him to be healthy.”

US Women’s PGA champion Korda agreed it was difficult to manage the intense heat.

“I think the mental aspect of it is probably the hardest, just because you have to keep yourself hydrated and you kind of lose it a little out there,” she said.

“When I was teeing up some balls, I definitely felt a little light-headed.”

Organisers released a statement saying players were advised not to play more than 18 holes in a day, while heat mitigation measures will be implemented for Thursday’s second round including ‘umbrellas available on the first tee to all players/caddies, roving carts with ice and cooling towels and volunteers with umbrellas on each tee’.

Reports of an approaching storm has forced officials to consider a 54-hole finish to the women’s competition.

Thunderstorms are forecast on Friday, while severe weather is possible for the weekend.

‘There is a big difference playing in the afternoon or evening’

Canada and Sweden are due to meet in the gold medal match during the hottest part of the day.

Football’s world governing body Fifa and the International Olympic Committee have been contacted to see if the game can be moved.

“It is primarily the players’ health we’re thinking about and trying to change the time of the game. There’s a pretty big difference between playing in the afternoon or evening, and we are very much exposed to the warmth and heat,” said Marika Domanski Lyfors, head of Sweden’s women’s team.

“If we have to play at 11 o’clock in the morning then we are prepared, but it would clearly be much better to for the performance and the game to have the possibility to play it later.

“Canada have exactly the same opinion,” she added.

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