Researcher Renska Lok has studied circadian rhythms and how they affect performance in Olympians

Episode 162: Olympians’ Circadian Rhythms with Renske Lok

Release Date: November 12, 2020

Category: Podcast | Science

When your Olympics is halfway around the world, how does your body clock affect your performance? We talk with researcher Renske Lok about circadian rhythms and the surprising way they can affect Olympians’ competitions.

Read about Renske’s research on Scientific Reports: Nature Research.

You can follow Renske on social:





Our TKFLASTAN Update includes news from:

We also have Games Updates from Tokyo 2020, including news about the lavish spreads that the Tokyo Organizing Committee wants to control.

And the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board met, which means another press conference with TBach. The foremost question on our minds: Will he wave good-bye?

Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!

Photo courtesy of Renske Lok.


Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript. It contains errors. Please do not quote from the transcript; use the audio file as the record of note. If you would like to see transcripts that are more accurate, please support the show.

Renske Lok: [00:00:00] So we already had a guest that possibly having the heats in the, in the evening and the semifinals and finals in the morning might not be such a good idea for, for finish times in the end.

Jill:. Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive. The podcast four fans of the Olympics in Paralympics. I am your host. Jill. Jaracz joined as always by my lovely co-host Alison Brown, Alison. Hello, how are you today?

Alison: I’m feeling a little sluggish.

How come? I don’t think this is our optimum recording time.

Jill: Oh, . When is our optimum recording time? If it’s not Wednesday at 7:00 PM, I believe

Alison: it would be Tuesday at 2:00 AM.

since I’m off in the middle of the night, most nights anyway.

Jill: Oh, I am sorry to hear that, but. At least we’re learning something this week about why you might be up at two in the morning on most nights. Anyway, I’m ready for Tokyo. Apparently. right. It could be something to do with your circadian rhythm.

And that’s what we’re talking about this week. So we talked with ska Locke, a post-doctoral researcher at Stanford University, who is investigating the role of 24 hour rhythmicity and light on various processes in the human body, such as temperature, sleep and alertness. She’s the lead author on a new study, published in Nature called “Gold, silver, bronze, circadian variation, strongly affects performance in Olympic athletes.”

Take a listen. So it’s really interesting that you looked at circadian rhythms in Olympic athletes, especially if we’re talking about people from the us and Europe and south America, having to go over to Asia for an Olympics, how that affects their body. So let’s just start with the basics. How, what are circadian rhythms and why are they important?

Renske Lok: So that’s a great question. I like to start at the basics. So circadian rhythms are basically rhythms that last for approximately 24 hours. Like literally translated CICA is approximately and DM is 24 hours. So, so rhythms that are approximately 24 hours. Um, and there are many circadian rhythms within our body.

Uh, basically every cell in our body contains a circadian clock and, uh, follows a circadian rhythm.

Jill: Do different areas of your body have different circadian rhythms.

Renske Lok: So basically we have one master clock, which is located in a brain, which is called the SATIC nucleus. And that is the, the main synchronizer.

So all are our body parts. Body cells have different clocks, but the super charismatic nucleus in the brain synchronizes all the body clocks together.

Jill: Why is it important to be in tune with your circadian rhythms and know how they work? It’s

Renske Lok: important for many features, one of them is health. We know it’s more healthy to live according to your biological clock.

So for example, you have people who are the, the morning people. So the larks let’s say, and you have people who are more the, the evening types. So the owls. So basically people who like to get up in the early morning or who like to be active at night. And we know it has health consequences. If you have to.

Uh, if you’re an evening person and you’re forced to wake up super early every day, for example, it’s not healthy. It has long term health consequences. Um, mostly because sleep is usually shortened. If you like to stay up late at night and you have to get up super early the next morning, um, sleep is shortened that has a lot of health consequences.

And on top of that, it’s just not, uh, it’s not your prime time to function. Uh, so of course my article was about physical functioning, but we also know that mental functioning has a circadian rhythm too. And if you’re forced to function mentally in the early morning, when you’re an evening type, we know you perform worse compared to the evening.

Alison: And does that change in different times of life? So I know they always talk about teenagers. Want to stay up later and old people wanna get up earlier. Yes.

Renske Lok: Yes. That’s an excellent question. Indeed. It changes with, with life. So usually as you said, teenagers are, are pretty late chronotypes they like to be the evening chronotypes and so the hours and later in life people, uh, change or shift again to earlier chronotypes but overall it can be that you’re the same consistently the same chronotype throughout life.

Jill: So how do circadian rhythms affect physical performance? Yeah.

Renske Lok: Um, so, so that’s what we studied and we knew there was an effect of, so what we studied is not entirely new. Some other studies have already shown that circadian rhythms can affect [00:05:00] performance. It’s just new that it’s also in Olympic athletes.

And I’ll explain a bit more about that later, but basically since everything in our, in our body has a rhythm, a 24 hour rhythm, you can imagine that this also. Physical performance. So even our muscle clocks have rhythms with 24 hour, uh, with a 24 hour duration. And this means that there’s always gonna be a peak in performance, and there’s gonna be a, a drop in performance too.

And, um, especially when you are performing at, at high levels, it’s very important to have all these different clocks synchronized because you know, the difference between finishing first or second is so small, it is important to, to take everything into account that can possibly affect. So,

Jill: how do you get them synced to a particular time?


Renske Lok: that’s a tricky process. Uh, but the main, the main way to get your body clock synced is, is basically using lights. So let’s say you are an evening type as you are, but you like to become more of a morning type. The best way to do that is basically to tell your clock. To shift your, your day frame. So you wanna minimize light exposure in the evening and you wanna maximize light exposure in the early morning.

Um, basically tricking your body clock into thinking the day has shifted to an earlier time.

Jill: So is that what the athletes do in their preparation for. Competing in a different time zone. Yes.

Renske Lok: So if you’re talking about, uh, basically it’s the concept of chat lag. So if you travel to a new time zone, you always need a couple of days to adjust to this new time zone.

And depending on which time zone you travel to, or, or how many time. How di how big, the difference between the time zone that you’re going to versus where you’re coming from. It depends how long it takes, but that’s, that’s comparable to shifting your body clock. Um, so you need a couple of days to, to, uh, retrain so process what we call entrainment.

So to get used to the new daylight schedule daylight cycle to, to get your body clock adjusted. So I

Alison: have always heard it’s easier to go east than go west. Is that a myth or is that actually true?

Renske Lok: No, that’s actually true. That’s actually true. It is. Yeah. There are some biological principles for that. Um, I, I’m not the expert on that, so I can’t explain it exactly to you, but it’s true.


Alison: So then maybe all these events in Asia actually are not so bad for the athletes. If they’re going east versus west. I mean,

Renske Lok: usually Olympic athletes go like, I don’t know how much, but, but pretty far in advance to, to and train to this new because you don’t wanna be jet lag. Everybody knows. Jet lag is horrible.

Um, it makes you function and perform worse. And so everybody usually, uh, travels in time. Luckily.

Jill: So in your study, you looked at swimming. Why did you choose swimming?

Renske Lok: Um, we chose swimming because it’s a sport that’s virtually, so the, the environmental conditions are virtually constant. So if you look at other sports, such as, for example, cycling, um, you have a lot of other factors influencing performance among which wind weather conditions, but also the, the bicycle.

Uh, whereas for swimming, the environmental conditions are. Kind of constant. So the water temperature is always approximately the same. It’s not depending on the weather. Um, there’s minimal aiding of material, so not a bike or anything. Um, so that makes swimming a really good sport to study

Alison: because then you can isolate that one factor.

Exactly. And, and take out all the other variables.

Renske Lok: Exactly. Yes. Cause you wanna study, um, a rhythm that’s that’s pure. You don’t want it to be confounded by all these other factors that you’re not interested in.

Jill: So, and then in your study you looked at four different Olympics. So Rio, London, Beijing, and Athens.

What did you find as you looked at the, the day and you took, uh, just anonym, uh, you anonymized the results that you found. So what, what, what did you find.

Renske Lok: So, first of all, so something about swimming for those who don’t know, it usually it’s comprised of a, a heat, a semifinal in a final. So basically, um, athletes have to qualify for the finals fired semi-finals and fired heats.

And we only selected the athletes who made it to the finals, just because it was, uh, a part of our analysis that, so then what we did, we wanted to see how these swim times were in the, the heats, the semifinals and finals compared to each other. And what we actually noticed is that that athletes always swim a bit slower in the heats compared to the semifinals and compared to the finals.

So apparently athletes are well aware of, of how much performance they have to deliver to be well enough to qualify for the, uh, semifinals. And on top of that, we actually notice that the difference between the semifinals and the heats was smallest in Beijing and biggest in Athens and London. And that kind of made us question like what was go, what was going on there?

And we noticed that, [00:10:00] um, in Beijing, the heats were SW in the evening, whereas the semi-finals and finals were SW in the morning versus London and Athens where the heats were swam in the morning and the semi-finals and finals were swam in the evening. So basically the pattern was reversed in Beijing versus London and Athens.

And since this time difference between the heats and the semifinals was so much smaller in Beijing, we wondered if it could be circadian. So that was really the start of our, our inquiry, let’s

Alison: say so in Beijing, the local time, the, the finals were SW early in the day, whereas the heats and the semis, and then it was reversed, but that’s all based local time.

Exactly. A granite mean. Okay.

Renske Lok: Yeah. It’s all, all local time. Yeah.

Alison: Okay. So the idea was that in Beijing, where they were doing the reverse of normal mm-hmm, . Difference between the heats and the semis and the finals was smaller. Mm-hmm so the idea being that they were swimming slower finals versus finals.

Renske Lok: Yeah. So basically the idea was because it was reversed. So the heats in Beijing took place in the evening at local time. So the idea was since these athletes know so well, how, how they perform. So the idea was that maybe like. Knowing how much performance they have to deliver. They perform better in the evening in these heats, even though they don’t necessarily have to, because the difference between semifinals and and heats is so much smaller in Beijing compared to Athens and London.

Alison: So. Just going back to the, the layout when in Beijing, were they no. In the other programs, were they doing the heats, the semis and the finals all within a single day? Um, or was that, did that vary?

Renske Lok: It varied a bit. So it’s, it’s not all on the same day. Sometimes some of the, the events were on the same day, but sometimes there was a night in between or a day in between.

So that’s not really the determining factor of the, of the analysis. It was really this, this time of day differe. So the difference in

Alison: scheduling, but swimmers are more used to swimming finals in the evenings.

Renske Lok: Yeah, that too. But also we know from other studies that your prime time to, to function physically is actually in the evening or the late afternoon.

So we already had a guest that possibly having the heats in the, in the evening and the semifinals and finals in the morning might not be such a good idea for, for finish times in.

Alison: that’s surprising though, that you would be physically peaking late afternoon because you know, there’s sort of that 3:00 PM slump idea.

Mm-hmm but you’re saying that that’s not true when we’re talking about Olympic athletes.

Renske Lok: I mean, it is true. Like the, the slump of three, 3:00 PM is usually what we call the, the post launch dip. But I think the physical performance peak is a bit later than that. And again, it depends on internal time to so 5:00 PM external time when.

Peak performance is it differs per individual. Of course, if you’re a morning type, it might be a bit before 5:00 PM. If you’re an evening type, it might be a bit after 5:00 PM, but yeah. And. Why this, this peaks at 5:00 PM, we don’t exactly know our study. Didn’t didn’t involve that. I mean, we can speculate on it.

We know that, that the rhythm in core body temperature, so that the temperature that, that your body is also follows the circadian path. So a rhythm of approximately 24 hours. And it also peaks in the late afternoon, the beginning of the evening. So that might be one of the factors that is involved in, in physical performance, but there are many others such.

Oxygen availability, testosterone levels. Um, yeah, you name

Jill: it. Wait, it’s kind of interesting when you look at swimming because so many swimmers train early in the morning, and then maybe they have another training later on in the day, but that early morning training doesn’t seem like it would be as beneficial.

Maybe if, uh, their body isn’t peak.

Renske Lok: Yeah. So that’s something that we were a bit surprised about too, because some studies have shown that that training at a specific time of day can kind of counteract these time of day effects in itself. So we had expected that maybe we wouldn’t find a circadian rhythm in these athletes since they.

Train, usually in the early morning, but interestingly enough, this, the circadian effect is so big that it, that it even counteracts or counteracts it’s, it’s bigger than the effect of training. So then

Alison: would this study affect how you would recommend athletes train? Um,

Renske Lok: that’s a good question. I think I’d say it all depends on the scheduling of the, of the game, uh, of the match.

So it depends on the timing of the match, uh, when the, when the athlete has to perform. So peak performance is boosted by training at the right time of day. Yeah. So, so it depends

Jill: when you looked [00:15:00] at the, the data, how did Rio factor into all of this

Renske Lok: good question? So, Rio was interesting in itself because the, the semifinals and finals were from later in the evening predominantly, so, so relatively late.

So those were actually, it was interesting to see. The swimmers perform best when the semifinals and finals were held or when the, the races were held in the late afternoon. But if the late the races were held at the later time of day, so in the early evening, for example, then race time would decrease again.

So finish time would decrease again. So in that respect, Rio was really interesting,

Jill: kind of blown away by this to be quite honest, when you, when you think about it and that’s not something you can control either necessarily. No, no, you

Renske Lok: can control it.

Alison: I’m surprised a little bit that this hasn’t been Studi.

More. And earlier that, you know, we’re kind of coming up with this now because they, especially for people like swimming and runners who it’s every hundredth of a second and they wanna get every little advantage that you would think that this would be kind of a natural place to look, you know, where can I mash all my

Renske Lok: times up?

Yeah. I mean, that’s exactly what we thought too. Um, so which is why we did the study, as I said, um, some people. Have looked into these effects in non-professional athletes. Um, there are a couple of studying professional athletes, more with respect to jet lag and effects of jet lag on, on training, uh, on performance.

But yeah,

Alison: because I know we’ve spoken to different athletes who talk about matching when they train to where they’re going to compete. Mm-hmm so that sounds like something they need to, to do.

Renske Lok: Uh, you mean training at the right time

Alison: of. . So for example, for figure skaters, if the finals are going to be at 7:00 PM at night.

Mm. They’re performing their programs at 7:00 PM at night. So they, their right brains and bodies kind of match up or they’re trying to live on, like, for example, if you live in the United States, but you’re trying to live on Tokyo time. Mm-hmm like Jill is trying to live on election day time.

Renske Lok: Right, right.

yeah. I mean, those are good strategies for sure. I, I just say that, uh, athletes should take into account to raise time too, to try and synchronize their body. Like to match up their optimal peak performance to the race time. I think that would be a valuable addition to all the other measures that they already are taking into account.

Jill: So in Tokyo heats will be local time in the evening. And then the semifinals and finals will be mid-morning mm-hmm . So what kind of things, when, when you look at the, the previous games, what kind of things do you expect?

Renske Lok: Yeah to see. So, so with the heats again, being in the evening and the semifinals and finals being in the late morning, I think we can expect something similar to Beijing in which the, the difference between the heats and semifinals and finals will be smaller compared to the Olympic games games of, uh, Athens and London, for example, unless, uh, uh, athlete shift their body clock appropriately.

Jill: Of course . So I know you studied individual. Swimmers, but have you thought about how this would also affect somebody in a team? Like say a synchronized swimming team or a water polo team that has the same kind of controlled environment, but you’re dealing with many people that you have to work with.

Yeah. Who could be on different body clocks? Right.

Renske Lok: Yeah. So that, that both is a whole new problem. Uh, because one individual is easy to shift, but if you have different individuals with different, uh, chronotypes, you have to have different types of shifts to get them all synchronized to the right time to perform.

So that’s gonna be pretty complex. So we haven’t studied that yet. It might be one of the, one of the follow up experiments.

Alison: I think the follow up study is to how to optimize our podcasting time.

Jill: how can chill and I be in sync

Alison: for our work.

Jill: You guys are sync. It does bring a whole new meaning to synchronize swimming, quite honest, double

Renske Lok: synchronized. Yes. Yik. .

Jill: So what is next for you? What do you hope to do with this data or use it in, in future studies?

Renske Lok: Um, yeah, so first of all, I, I predominantly hope that that athletes will take it into account and they use it to their advantage, especially with the upcoming games in, in Tokyo, uh, with the swim times being in the, in the morning.

Additionally. So what is really important is of course we assess this effect in, in a very big cohort. So in, in more than 1700 athletes, what is really important is to measure this on an individual level. So what we would love to do is, is to do these types of experiment, to let, to measure swim time, [00:20:00] and actually people in, in people at different times of day to assess the magnitude of

Jill: this.

Interesting. One question back to the, the study. Yeah. The main data you looked at was anonymous, but did you look at Michael Phelps in particular? Just because he swam all four Olympics.

Renske Lok: At some point in the study. I think we did do some analysis of people who participated in multiple Olympic games, but I, I don’t recall any specific result yeah.

Attached to it.

Jill: Okay. And how did the shark suit affect in, in Beijing that, that swimsuit issue? How did that affect how you looked at the data from that year?

Renske Lok: Yeah, that was a, a tricky situation. Um, and basically it, it resulted in us, um, having to do an additional analysis. So we had to. Yeah, we had to change the data or we had to format the data in a certain kind of way to make sure that the shark suit didn’t interfere with our analysis because obviously people swim way faster in Beijing than in the other Olympic games due to the shark suit.

So what you can do is a method which is called normalization, and basically, um, it’s a type of mathematical, um, analysis in which you make all, all the finish times circle around a certain value. So circle. Let’s say the value one and therefore it doesn’t really matter. If there are changes between Olympic games, such as the shark suits ambition.

Jill: Last for me, like how long did it take you to do the study? I always wanna know that stuff like cuz stuff takes longer than you think. Yeah.

Renske Lok: It takes a long time. Um, the first step is always the data collection, which takes a lot of time. Um, the, the pre-processing so you have to, to make sure that the data is in the right format.

And then of course the actual analysis and, and the more analysis you do, the more questions usually arise. So it’s a lengthy process. I think it. It took maybe a year, a year and a half or so. Um, for sure. Easily

Jill: fascinating. Alison, do you have anything else? No.

Alison: Cause now I’m like, oh my God, we, we have to do all this data analysis.

Jill: well, my BI I can tell you this, my shape changing my body clock is not fun. I will tell you that right now. It is, I am on a I’m on five o’clock now, and I’m supposed to be able to get up at four 30. So next week is four 30. Ooh. And it’s not fun at all. Wow. And it keeps getting darker. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I would, I would, I have to learn to just get up and move and turn all the lights on because if I get up and move to the couch, then I take a nap within an hour.

yeah. That’s the defeat of

Renske Lok: purpose light. Exposure’s gonna be crucial. So I, I definitely advise a lot of light in the morning and it’s tricky now that it’s more dark in the early morning. Uh, but also don’t forget to minimize light exposure in the evening, cuz both

Alison: things will do the.

Jill: Okay, thank you so much.

Ska. You can follow ska on social media on Facebook she’s That’s the number one, Instagram she’s ska dot lock on Twitter. She’s at lock ska and she is also on LinkedIn. Her name is spelled R E N S K E L O K. I have to say that that was really interesting and super helpful for me. I was going to ask you, we are

Alison: past election day.

Now we spoke to her a little while ago. So how did it go with getting up in the middle of the night?

Jill: I was wide awake pretty much all day. And that was good. So, and. I worked the polls on election day here in the United States. And Ben has suggested maybe I should train myself to get up earlier because I had to wake up at four 30 in the morning to be at the polls at five 30 in the morning.

And they opened at six 30 in the morning and they were open until about seven 30 at night, I believe. And then you’re there until you’re done. So, uh, for us, it was about nine o’clock and that’s a very long day and it was a cloudy day. Oh, we had a sunny day. It was a beautiful, you had a sunny day.

Beautiful, beautiful day. But you know, we were in a, an elementary school gymnasium, so it’s not like we got light so, but I, I will say doing what she suggested by turning on a lot of light in the morning when I got up that helped. So I’d get up and go downstairs, turn on all the lights on the first. Did not matter if I could see them or not, they were all on I’d sit in and do some stuff.

And then in the evening I had insist that we’d be in the living room, in the dark, or, you know, all the lights that I had to be off. And then I had a little bedside light on and just everything off as much as possible. And it, it did help.

Alison: It just is so fascinating to me that they keep changing the times of when competitions are happening.

Mm-hmm . You know, that’s all having to do with television and United States audiences and getting people to watch. And it’s just so hard for the athletes unnecessarily.

Jill: Yeah, it’s really rough. But I think in the term, in the case of [00:25:00] the Olympics, it’s always going to be hard for one batch of athletes, no matter where you put.


Alison: because they’re, somebody’s gonna be traveling halfway around the world. Mm-hmm

Jill: but it’s interesting that that’s something they can look out for and control and, uh, learn to manage. Get your box light going right. Let’s go visit our team.

Alison: Welcome to shook.

Jill: Liston. Chelsea memo has a new endorsement deal with a tumble track, which is very. Cool for her tumble track makes a lot of training products for, uh, gymnastics, cheer, dance, and martial arts. And they make things like those pit pillows that you line up in the, the pits while, uh, gymnast train, they do a lot of air based stuff.

So it is easier on your joints and you don’t have to pound yourself on the floor all the time. So, and

Alison: she does love a good pit. She , she’s been posting all these videos of. Doing everything into the pit. And I’m like, okay, I’ll go back to gymnastics. If I can fall into that pit a few times,

Jill: our Kaka, Tom Scott was featured on the local, ABC news in his, uh, home area of north Texas, which is nice.

I did a little feature on how, uh, some Olympic hopefuls we’re staying the course during the pandemic. We’ll have a link to that in the show notes. And then what’s up with Megan? Dham.

Alison: So Megan de Hamel and Foche ALSK have been competing at battle of the blades have been competing in battle of the blades and they were trying to train a double twist.

And Megan’s nose met Vitech shoulder and she broke her nose.

Jill: Oh no. was this during the show? No, this

Alison: was in training. Oh, okay. Good. But it was not anything serious and she posted it and she said, uh, my nose was already crooked. It wasn’t the first time this has happened. And she just went right back on the ice, but they’re doing some crazy things, like throw triples.


Jill: Yeah. Which is impressive for. Somebody who’s picking up para skating for the first time.

Alison: Right. And they’re doing hand to hip lifts. Wow. Yeah. He’s quite impressive.

Jill: Excellent. Well, hopefully they will go far in the competition and I

Alison: keep posting at him. Don’t drop . And apparently it is his great fear that he’s going to drop her.

So the fact that she broke her nose kind of hitting him was better for his confidence than if she had Dr. Than if he had dropped her.

Jill: Well, that’s good. Well, let’s check in with what’s going on with Tokyo 2020.

So we’re still on the whole, who are we letting in and how are we letting them in. Elements. And the Kyodo news reported that, uh, Japan is going to make special allowance for entrance of athletes before the Olympics, uh, foreign athletes and staff, no matter if they’re in a country or region that Japan has a travel ban on because of the coronavirus, they have to submit proof of negative test and take, uh, precautionary measures while they enter the country.

So the nice thing is. Even if they’re quarantined, they can participate in international tournaments or training camps. So

Alison: when we were first talking about Tokyo, I remember they were talking about the welcome areas would be lined with flowers. Do you remember that right now? I’m thinking they’re just gonna be lined with Lysol you know, like a Disney world, how they have those water mistress for the heat.

I think it’s gonna spray out antiviral.

Jill: I would not be surprised if that happened, but they have been having events here and there. So they had a big four country gymnastics tournament. It

Alison: was a one day four country gymnastics tournaments, and they keep pointing to this and its success as, oh, we can run the Olympics.

It’s gonna be

Jill: fine. Well, I guess it was a test of bringing in a few athletes and seeing how well they did right. I

Alison: mean, the, the competition, it was great to watch competition mm-hmm and great to see gymnastics and, and great to see how these athletes are doing. But. I don’t, it’s a very small scale test.

Right? Right. I mean, this is sort of like doing a, a coronavirus vaccine test on 10 people. well, and then declaring you found the cure.


Jill: it’s a start

Alison: step in the

Jill: right direction. That’s for sure. We found out some more information about the streamlining of hospitality costs. Thank you, Japan for this gem.


Alison: gotta put a link to this

Jill: and share this with everybody. We

Alison: will cause this, this article is just on the nose. let’s put it that

Jill: way. So we’ve mentioned that, uh, some of the cost cutting measures that the organizing committee wants to make [00:30:00] include cutting back on the hospitality for IOC measures. And then so Japan today talked about some of those lavish parties.

So apparently there are parties. Every night and Yohi Mori, the president of the organizing committee said, it seemed like almost the same people showed up. So I guess

Alison: he was referring to the parties in Rio because as the organizer. Of Tokyo. He would’ve been invited to Rio. Yes. Yes. So he wanted to see what Rio was doing and he complained that everybody was just sort of the same touring crowd in all these parties.

There was a lot of free alcoholic beverages. This article mentioned the alcoholic beverages a lot. So I guess there is a very heavy consumption.

Jill: Maybe the heavy, heavy cost that’s for sure. That’s

Alison: for sure. There was also concern over free sandwiches

Jill: but they also, he also noticed that the hosts had a VIP lounge at every venue.

For services to the members of the Olympic family, which is IOC members and international federations among others. So you get your little lounge and I wonder if the concern is that not all that many people use the lounge, although I bet the international Federation peoples probably certainly use their lounge during the day.

You know, during the event you have to, if

Alison: you have to be at the venue all day mm-hmm and you can get free lunch with a beer, I think you’re gonna go

Jill: do that. Right. But you know, why isn’t the international Federation providing their own VIP launch if they want, you know, what don’t they don’t, they put up any of the money for that, or do they just expect that they have to have this VIP lounge cuz it’s the Olympics and somebody should pay for it and not us.

And I’m

Alison: really surprised that these aren’t

Jill: sponsored. Yeah, that’s a good point. Like you would think, well, obviously there would be Coke and Coke products there.

Alison: Exactly. I mean, at Fox woods casino in Connecticut, there’s a, a VLY co lounge. You would think that, you know, the Olympics could get a champagne sponsor.


Jill: would think you would

Alison: think Heineken house isn’t happening this year. They need to name so. You

Jill: got a point, you got a point, but it, it is interesting how much they noticed the lavish spreads and an opportunity to scale back and maybe, uh, get back to something that’s a little bit more reasonable. The organizing committee was also going to equip about 490 hotel rooms.

With cable TV that required a special network and device, but instead they’re going to replace ’em with an internet streaming service. So you have to wonder like, oh, well we need to have cable. Like, is this an outdated part of the contract? You know, they signed the contract like eight or nine years ago now.

Right. And the

Alison: technology is so different. Mm-hmm and though I’m kind of thinking why wouldn’t a hotel room, have cable TV. Is that just. A

Jill: thing in Tokyo, maybe I can’t imagine, but why would they have to go into a hotel? I wonder, I mean, I wonder if something’s lost in translation here because I wonder like, do they have to say, Hey Hilton, we’re coming in to put cable in for you because our, our people need it.

That just doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, maybe

Alison: if it’s a specialized network, If it’s something specific that it’s not like HBO,

Jill: right. Or maybe, maybe it taps into the OBS, the Olympic broadcast system. And, uh, they can watch it all the time. I don’t know, but it didn’t, it didn’t quite make sense, but by golly, not having to do that anymore is probably good.

And, you know, even hotel rooms, what if they, what about the Airbnbs?

Alison: Oh God. Are you getting it to Tommy mad in Yoshi’s flat is that where we’re putting Toba this year?

Jill: But that was an interesting news.

Alison: And just the way they wrote this article, referencing things like aristocratic behavior, I’m like, well, there are many aristocrats and royalty.

They’re used to their

Jill: free beer. That’s right. They’re gonna have to learn a little austerity for, for some games. The torches have gone on tour. As we mentioned before, they’re traveling to a whole bunch of prefectures so that more people can experience the flame. And minchi Japan has a story that says the oldest person in the world is confirmed to be one of the torch bearers for the relay.

She is a Kae Tanaka and she is 117 years old.

Alison: Wow. Pretty impressive.

Jill: Wow. And she is, she sounded really gung ho she’s like I’m gonna be there. She, they have a picture of her with her can in her hand she’s

Alison: training.

Jill: Yes. The day [00:35:00] she’s planned a scheduled to be part of the torch relay. She will be 118 years old, 129.

Alison: I’m sorry, they should have her going first. just in case. I just in case I don’t mean to be negative, but she’s

Jill: 117 probably doing okay. They said her, uh, nursing home says her physical condition remains good. Wow. And she’s telling people she wants to go to America. Why? Well, I maybe she’s always wanted to visit, but doesn’t understand what, what it’s like here with the coronavirus.

Alison: I’m like of all the places she could wanna go. This is not the time to come to

Jill: the United States. Never say never. That’s that’s we’ll save you some Coke. That’s right. Come over and tape the show with us. Oh,

Alison: that would be awesome. . I mean, can you imagine how many Olympics this woman has

Jill: seen? The story mentioned she was 61 when the Olympics were held last, held in Tokyo in 1964.

Wow. So Tokyo 2020 in 2021 will be her 50th Olympics. When you combine summer in winter. All right. Let’s check in with the IOC

inside. The games has reported that the IOC has warned sports not to join the global e-sports Federation because they don’t plan to recognize any organization as the world governing body for e-sports

Alison: that’s cuz e-sports is not really a

Jill: sport. Pro like, yeah. I mean, I get that. They train and they have to be in good shape to do it, but it’s not the same thing.

And I wonder if this is the IOC playing its hand and saying, yeah, we looked at this and we, we, uh, indulged you for a while to talk about e-sports cuz that’s what you like, but uh, it’s not a sport. Yeah. So earlier today the executive board met and so that meant it was time for a little media call with T.

I have to say,

Alison: I was a little concerned with how tach looked. He looked like he had lost a lot of weight. You think? So? I, I was concerned. Hmm. He looked a little drawn. He looked very thin. He

Jill: did look thin. I will give you that. So he did look thin and they were, it was interesting because in Olympic house nor it’s been business as usual, and they don’t have that many people there, but when.

Tach wasn’t speaking or James McLeod, wasn’t speaking. And James is the director of the NOCs and Olympic solidarity. And he was there as part of the call when they weren’t speaking, they wore masks. Right.

Alison: And nobody was close to them cuz they gave us the wide shot. They were far apart from each other, but they still put their masks on.

So I guess I don’t know how the numbers are in Switzerland, but I guess they’re not good, but this has gotta be, I mean, to be fair, teak is. Unprecedented stress.

Jill: Yes. So I would say, and a lot of things keep coming at ’em too. I mean, a lot of issues that they’re dealing with, so we’ll see. But you know, the most important element of the call to me.

Was whether or not he was going to wave goodbye. And he did, he did, he did, but it was so tentative. He was like, Hey, I’m just like,

Alison: he doesn’t doesn’t wanna get in trouble with the young people at the IOC. Right. but it was lovely Teebo I appreciated your wave. But in between those two things of us noticing that he was thin and him waving, there was actually some substance to this

Jill: call.

right. Um, well, okay. I wanna one little comment on the staffers who said waving was old fashioned. You know what? They really need to get on him. He’s gotta stop saying it was a perfect 10 about that gymnastics meet in Japan. He, that was his line. He also kept talking

Alison: about his toolbox. Oh. So he kept talking about his COVID 19 toolbox keybox you needed to put the toolbox away

Jill: and they’ve got the toolbox keeps getting bigger and bigger.

The more, the more calls we are on the toolbox just gets enormous. They have all these things in the toolbox.

Alison: And can we say that gymnastics doesn’t even use. A 10 point scale anymore. Yes. So

Jill: a perfect 10. Yes. That’s. That’s why I was like, he keeps using this. It was a perfect 10. He doesn’t even know the scoring system has changed or maybe he does, but you know, a perfect 10, everybody knows except for maybe a whole generation of gymnasts have not worked on that scale before.

Alison: So, but college gymnasts still do. So we’re

Jill: just gonna go with that. Yeah. Yeah. But not everybody’s a college gymnast. I don’t know what they do for the equivalent in, uh, Europe and Asia and Australia, New Zealand. So, you know, communication staffers, you can get on ’em for that. Let ’em

Alison: wave, just give them some better

Jill: references.

But yes, they COVID 19 was a big. Discussion, except for, there was nothing [00:40:00] conclusive that they talked about. It’s just like Japan is doing more thing, more events with more fans and they’re learning as they go. And they just can’t make any calls yet. Except for the fact that the games are going to happen.

No matter how many journalists ask that the games are going to happen, they’re gonna happen. Whether or not they’re gonna happen with every N C. We don’t know whether or not they’ll happen with every. We don’t know, some might decide to stay home. They may not happen with fans or a lot of fans,

Alison: but they’re gonna

Jill: happen.

Alison: They’ll make it work. One of the interesting things that he, that tee box had an answer to a question was that everything depends on everything. it was a phrase he used and he, and it’s true because each moving part, you can’t pull any of these strings without the entire thing unraveling. So you can’t ask about fans without asking about a vaccine without asking about venues without.

So everything does depend on everything and I could see his frustration. In answering the question that way to just say, do you understand there is still a pandemic, right? And we are trying to make this up as we go along as

Jill: best we can. Right. And things keep changing from day to day and week to week. So you can’t say anything definitive right now because in March, things may completely different.

Alison: Right. But that gymnastics competition was a perfect 10 .

Jill: He did. They, uh, somebody did ask about the international federations who still had qualifying event. And he did sympathize with that because there are a lot of issues coming out with international federations, being able to schedule and pull off events where they can be Olympic qualifiers and figuring out how are we going to qualify athletes, especially in things like wrestling, where, uh, there’s world wrestling championships has just been canceled.

Partially because many of the top countries pulled out and that’s tough. I, I also feel for the international federations who have to figure out what to do and how to make it work,

Alison: it sounds like the IOC is trying to be as flexible as possible with qualifications. Yes. And working with the international federations to just figure out how we’re gonna make this fair

Jill: and fair is possible.

Cuz you. Right. Uh, they also talked about the, uh, Olympic solidarity budget. Which is why James McLeod was on the call. And James talked about the fact that the IOCs gonna give more money to the NOCs and the athletes, which is interesting. So they increased the Olympic solidarity, uh, budget by 16%. So it’s now 590 million us and.

Will help them increase the direct support to the athletes by 25% and also increase the support to the national Olympic committees by 25%. So that’s helpful and they need it, they need it. And I did wonder like, wow, you got to, you could increase it that much. How much money do you have sitting around fair point?

Alison: Where is this money coming from? Or are they borrowing it from future years? Good question with the idea that the 20 money didn’t get spent in the same way. So they have future year money. I, yeah, but all of a sudden we can just pull a few million

Jill: out. Yeah. One of the other journalists asks about, uh, an update on rule 50, which was, that was a really good question.

And, uh, tee box said that they have done a number of qualitative assessments. And consultations by some OCS and athlete commissions. And the IOC is basically staying out and letting the athletes commission do their thing. And so far he said, there’s a majority of athletes who believe that the field of play and ceremony should be protected, but they want to look for new and creative ways to celebrate Olympic values.

And probably protest I’m guessing celebrate Olympic values is code for it’s okay. To protest here. Right?

Alison: Because it’s, that’s what this whole question is about.

Jill: Mm-hmm and uh, he mentioned that they’re going to do some quantitative research. Starting shortly. And then once they’ve got that, I’ll complete, they’ll go back to the IOC executive board to discuss this further.

So the tee box said, yeah, they’re waiting for the proposals from the athletes commission to see what they’ll do about it.

Alison: I am starting to feel like Tokyo 2020 is gonna be a real watershed on so many

Jill: issues. Yeah. It, it could be a very pivotal moment in the history of the

Alison: Olympic. It feels that way, you know, between [00:45:00] having to make the changes because of COVID having to make budget changes, having to make these rule 50 changes.

When we were getting ready for Tokyo 20, 20, the first time, it didn’t feel like this mm-hmm of course not. And now it feels bigger.

Jill: Yeah, there’s more and there’s just so much more has happened in the rest of the world that ends up affecting the games in some way, or the games can be a platform for so much in a

Alison: terrifying and exciting way.

Very true. He did talk a little bit about weight lifting. Yes, my bugga boo. Yes. And I thought he handled it very well. He said they’ll be there for 2020 after that. They gotta clean

Jill: up their act. Yeah, because he said they’ve been doing some stuff. Okay. Especially with testing and anti-doping, but 2020 is gonna be the big test because if they don’t have a clean games, they’re fine.


Alison: I mean, he basically said it. He said, you know, we will look at what happens to the podiums. You know, if we keep wiping out entire podiums, like we’ve done for the past. Probably since Beijing mm-hmm this is not what we want in the Olympics.

Jill: Yeah. So that will be inter I don’t know, with the direction that the IWF leadership has gone, because they, I pretty much Ted their interim president who was trying to make change.

Yeah. They ousted

Alison: anybody who told them they couldn’t run it like their own little playground.

Jill: Yeah. So it, it could be that if they, if they don’t get that message, they’ll get a harsher message.

Alison: Tebo will come with his little sword and he will cut them out of the games that might be a sight to see. And God, maybe that’s why he’s losing weight.

He’s in training again.

Jill: we can

Alison: only hope somebody make that Manso Veen or Schnitt. Fating him up. I don’t want him getting sick. I’m concerned.

Jill: Well, I think he’ll be okay. I don’t know. He’s heading over to Tokyo next week, too. And, uh, and he said, yeah, I’m going, we’re taking very, we’re taking a lot of precautions, go, I’ve chartered a flight.

So he’s getting a nice plane ride there and he’ll follow whatever restrictions they have on him and, and whatever the hosts want to do with him, healthwise. But.

Alison: And he said the entire staff that’s going is bubbling together. Mm-hmm , they’re basically all in quarantine together right now. So that little charter flight they’ll just be traveling as a little

Jill: IOC pod.

Gosh, wouldn’t that be a great reality show?

Alison: I’m imagining it, like, remember that cartoon, the Jetsons. Yeah. How they had their. Space

Jill: car. Oh yeah. Yeah. And

Alison: each person would just like drop out. I to boss? Fuck. He’s driving a space car and out drops. Kit McConnell.

Jill: And,

and John coach takes the wallet away.

Alison: Oh no. John Coates is Rosie. The, the robot housekeeper. Oh. who like yells at people and smacks them with a broom.

Jill: Oh, what a sight that would be. That would be great.

Alison: I just imagined John coats with the bow in his hair now.

oh, somebody make that meme for me, please. Put John coat’s face on Rosie, the robot

Jill: we should wrap it up so that, uh, people can get started on that meme for you. Uh, if you have tried to reset your biological clock, let us know how that worked for you. Email us

Alison: at flame alive pod, or call our voicemail hotline at two zero eight flame.

We’re flame alive pod on Twitter and Insta and keep the flame alive podcast group

Jill: on Facebook next week is movie club. So film B Fran will be here to talk about gold, which is about India’s 1948 hockey team. And as we go up to music by Archdale, thank you so much for listening and until next. Time, keep the flame alive.

Alison: Sometimes you love just a journey.[00:50:00]

Are trying to make this up as we go along as best we can.