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Beating the heat at the Tokyo Olympics

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We all recall the joy and excitement when the decision was announced in Buenos Aires by the International Olympic Committee that Japan would host the 2020 Olympics (July 24 to Aug. 9) and Paralympics (Aug. 25 to Sept. 6). I also remember acknowledging that much planning and preparation would be required to meet the challenges that staging the games in the heat of summer would present.

Upon my return from Argentina, I was asked by the Prime Minister’s Office to lead the national government’s preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Games. Initially, my primary concern was Tokyo’s summer heat and humidity that would impact all participants — athletes, staff and spectators. This challenge would call on the best of Japanese expertise, innovation and imagination to bring out the best in the athletes competing in very challenging conditions. It would also showcase the determination and methods of the world-famous Japanese management and production styles.

Implementation and the fine-tuning of existing plans and the development of additional plans for the Tokyo 2020 Games began in September 2013, shortly after the IOC announced the selection of Tokyo as host.

Three overlapping questions came to mind. First, how can technology help mitigate the heat and humidity? Second, what information needs to be prepared and made available to visitors from abroad regarding the summer weather? Third, what is required to meet the particular needs of people with disabilities?

Regarding the role of technology, allow me to share an example. I vividly recall meeting the director general of the Road Division at the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry in 2013 to share my concerns about the intense summer heat and to seek new ideas to make conditions better for athletes. We concurred that something had to be done; our agreement led to the development........

© The Japan Times