Home Sports Typhoons, heat and ice: when extreme weather disrupts sport

Typhoons, heat and ice: when extreme weather disrupts sport

by kenya-tribune

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After an approaching typhoon prompted the cancellation of two games at the Rugby World Cup, here are some other examples of extreme weather disruption in sports:

Japan’s Formula One Suzuka race track is no stranger to extreme weather and in 2014 French driver Jules Bianchi crashed in the heavy rain – on the fringes of a typhoon – and tragically died nine months later without regaining consciousness.

A typhoon forced the postponement of qualifying in 2004 as did heavy rain in 2010, and as Hagibis approaches, organisers say that while they want to minimise disruption the safety of fans and competitors is their top priority.

Violent storms wreaked havoc on the 303 yachts that started in the 1979 Fastnet yachting race off the south coast of England, resulting in England’s largest peace-time rescue operation.


At least 75 yachts capsized and there were 19 fatalities, while naval and civilian vessels as well as helicopters plucked 125 yachtsmen from the sea.

In 1998, fierce storms battered the 115 yachts which started in the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Only 44 made it to the finish, while five sank and 66 pulled out.

Six sailors died and 55 were plucked from their yachts.

The 1967 NFL championship game between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers was played in such atrocious conditions that it gave birth to safety rules to prevent players and fans being exposed to such extreme weather again.

The temperature was a freezing -26 Celsius (-15F) with a wind chill factor of -44C.

The whistles stuck to the referees’ lips with one ripping his skin off, and calling plays by shouting through bleeding lips.

For the record, Packers legend Bart Starr scored a touchdown with 13 seconds remaining to win the game.

The third round of English football’s 1963 FA Cup lasted 66 days as Britain was hit by a major freeze. Frost and snow, as well as power cuts, rain and mud were responsible for 261 postponements, with 16 of the 32 ties called off 10 or more times. The round was ultimately spread over 22 playing days.

In this year’s Tour de France, the last 30 kilometres of stage 19 were cancelled when a powerful hailstorm hit the Alps, blanketing the road and giving organisers had no time to clear the course before the race leaders arrived.

The following day, stage 20 was shortened by 71 kilometres because of landslides caused by storm weather.

Officials considered postponing the 1975 New Zealand-Scotland Test because Eden Park was underwater, but with Scotland due to fly home the next day they decided to play.

Torrential rain never let up in the so-called “water polo Test” and All Blacks prop Billy Bush said he feared someone would drown.

Despite radio messages imploring fans to stay safely at home, 45,000 turned up to see the All Blacks win 24-0.

The 1995 World Cup semi-final between South Africa and France was delayed an hour after treacherous rain flooded the field in Durban.

People were handed mops and brooms to help clear the water enough for the game to go ahead, which was fortunate for the Springboks, the hosts, who won and went on to beat New Zealand in the final.

Had the match been abandoned, France would have made the final because of their better disciplinary record which was the tie-breaker then.

For current French players Louis Picamoles and Wesley Fofana, this is not the first time they have faced weather disruption.

In 2012 they were at Stade de France for the Six Nations match against Ireland which was called off 10 minutes before kick-off because of a bitter chill and the referee feared for the players’ safety on the frozen ground.

When the match was eventually played three weeks later, it resulted in a 17-17 draw.

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