(ATR) IOC inspection chief John Coates says the Tokyo organizing committeeis tackling thecountry’sdisaster risks and extreme weather issues.
Speaking at the close of the ninth project review of Tokyo 2020 preparationsWednesday,Coates was repeatedly asked if the IOC was satisfied with Japan’s approach to dealing with natural disasters and the sizzling summer heat.
He responded by saying the Tokyo Olympics were already "very complex games" with the most sports – 33 – and events ever, coupled with a wide distribution of venues.
Japan’s strongest typhoonin 25 years hit the nation last week and was followed by a 6.6-magnitude earthquake that shook the northern island of Hokkaido, killing dozens of people and leaving hundreds injured.Over the summer, a record-breakingheat wave, torrential rains and flooding have brought concerns for the IOC and Tokyo 2020.
Coates said the recent disasters were a wake-up call for Games organizers."What happened last week and what happened in Osaka certainly have hit home to me, and I know theorganising committee, about the further complexity of planning these games, because they have to be prepared," he told a press conference wrapping up the IOC visit.
"It’s somethingtheorganising committeeisimpressing on their staff and taking into account in planning."
Commenting on Japan’s summerheat wave in particular, Coates said "a lot of attention" had been paid to itby the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and organizing committee. Theyhad developed measuresto combat any repeat of the extreme heat in 2020.
Water sprays and extrashade at venues, especially at the urban clusterof venues,are part of plansto keep athletes and spectators cool during Games-time. "There has to be more medical people ready at these venuesto step in if something happens. It[Tokyo 2020 plans]were very impressive. It’s certainlyfront of mind for them I can assure you," he added.
The IOC was also in favor of daylight savings to reduce heat issues for Olympic competitors and sports fans, Coates said.
"We have observed the discussions happening in this country.We certainly see the potential of daylight savings… it does seema very good solution to us," he said.
TheIOC’s latest check-upon Tokyo 2020 preparations comes ahead of the full review of Coates’ coordination commission in November and the ANOC general assembly.
The timetable for the Olympic torch lighting and relay was also announced Wednesday.
The Olympic flamewill belit on March 12, 2020 inAncientOlympia,with a Greek legof the torch relay taking place before the handoverat thePanathenaic Stadium in Athens on March 19. The flame is set toarrive in Japan a day later, and will be displayed for six days in Miyagi prefecture, Iwate prefecture and Fukushima prefecture, commemorating the earthquake and tsunami that struck the Tohoku region in March 2011.
Tokyo 2020 will launch its Games volunteer program on Sept.26, with80,000 volunteerposts up for grabs.
Coates said: "I encourage the people of Japan to have a serious look at this and I think those that do it will derive great satisfaction and pleasure from it."
Also today,following an agreement with the IOC andFINA, Tokyo 2020confirmed that swimming finals will take place in the mornings and heats in the evenings. Itwill allow U.S. Olympic broadcaster NBC to show the finals in prime-time slots.
Yoshiro Mori, president of Tokyo 2020,had lobbied for the swimming finals tobe held in the evenings for the Japanese TV audience. But he said Tokyo 2020,FINA,theIOC, Olympic Broadcast Servicesandother Olympic stakeholders"considered the balance of the Olympic Games as a whole to come to the decision".
"By dispersing the finals the Games in Tokyowill draw more attention for the people of the world," he told the press conference.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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