This year’s Rugby World Cup has certainly not been short of drama or talking points – from the performances of the officials, to the hosts, Japan, topping their group with a 100% winning record. But the biggest talking point came last weekend when it was announced that three games would be cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis. Among those were New Zealand, favourites in betting odds to win the Rugby world cup, as well as fellow quarter-finalists England and France, who should have met in Yokohama. Here, we take a look back at other major sporting events disturbed by extreme weather conditions.
The warm Winter Olympics
Vancouver, Canada was the host city of the 2010 Winter Olympics, in what turned out to be the warmest winter edition of the games to date. Normally known for its sub-zero temperatures, Canada was going through a somewhat clement spell, with recordings as high as 7C, which spelt disaster for many of the disciplines.
Cypress Mountain was plagued with snow drought, meaning desperate measures needed to be taken. From snow being driven in from hours away and airlifting snow by helicopter at five-minute intervals, to spreading layers of snow with a Zamboni truck, shooting ice and water from canons and covering the slopes with bales of straw and topping them with artificial snow. Residents even joked that the city would host the summer games.
It wasn’t all bad news for the hosts, as they topped the medal table with 14 golds, finishing the games with 26 medals in total.
Serie A’s sodden pitches
Back when Italian football’s top-flight was more competitive than it is currently, rain played havoc on the final day of the 1999-2000 season. It all came down to either Juventus or Lazio to win the Scudetto, and the former had previously held quite the lead over their rivals, with nine points separating the two sides and eight games remaining. But The Old Lady lost three of their final seven matches, while Lazio only dropped two points, setting up a frantic finish on the final day.
Lazio had beaten Reggina 3-0, but the game between Juventus and Perugia was in doubt when the heavens opened. Despite the waterlogged pitch preventing the ball from rolling freely, referee Pierluigi Collina decided the game would continue after half time – albeit, with a 30-minute delay. A 49th minute goal from Alessandro Calori put the hosts in front and Juve were unable to capitalise, their usual slick passing play scuppered by the Umbrian storms. The defeat meant that the Turin club lost out on the Scudetto by a single point, awarding Lazio only their second title.
Storms strike at Japanese Grand Prix
Typhoon Hagibis may not have halted this year’s Japanese Grand Prix, where Valtteri Bottas reigned supreme for Mercedes on the Suzuka Circuit, but weather was a factor at the 1976 edition on the Mount Fuji Circuit, where the Formula One Championship was to be decided.
An extraordinary climax saw Austrian driver Niki Lauda (Ferrari) battle it out over Brit James Hunt (McLaren-Ford) for the Championship, with Lauda three points ahead of Hunt. Ferrari had already won the Constructors’ Championship, so it was all down to this final race to decide the Drivers’ Championship.
Still coming back from horrific injuries sustained at the German Grand Prix, Lauda qualified in third place, one place behind his rival. But on race day, conditions were terrible, with thick fog and heavy rain filling the air. The race went ahead despite many drivers disagreeing with the decision. Lauda was one of the opposers and withdrew on the second lap, later stating: “My life is worth more than a title”. Hunt finished third of 11 drivers completing the track, with 14 retirees, but won the Drivers’ title, a point ahead of Lauda.
There are many more sporting events that either went ahead controversially, or were cancelled due to dangerous weather conditions, including hurricanes, storms, flooding and even wildfires. Comment below with your most memorable stories.