NOCs Impressed By What They See Of Tokyo's 2020 Plans

By Jim Armstrong, AP Sports Writer

TOKYO (AP) -- With just over three years to go, sports administrators from around the world are already visiting Tokyo to check on the city's Olympic preparations for the 2020 Games.

While Tokyo has had to overcome some initial setbacks, such as the delay of the new national stadium and a plagiarism scandal involving the official 2020 logo, local organizers are confident their plans reinforce the Japanese capital's reputation for being highly organized and efficient.

The Canadian Olympic Committee just wrapped up a weeklong visit. Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, and Denmark are among the other countries which have sent delegations to survey the progress.

"There is a high level of confidence in what Tokyo 2020 will deliver," said Andrew Baker, Games Director of the Canadian Olympic Committee. "You expect a high level of organization and I would say from what we've seen with the planning so far they are living up to that reputation."

Cranes dot the city's waterfront area where the Athletes' Village and other venues are under construction.

While Tokyo will not present the same logistical challenges as Rio de Janeiro did last year, there are still issues that need to be dealt with.

One of the major challenges will be combating the heat and humidity. The last time Tokyo hosted the Summer Games in 1964, they were held in October to avoid the stifling heat.

"We know that with summers in Tokyo weather may be a challenge," Baker said. "We'll work with our sports federations to prepare our athletes to compete in those temperatures."

Japanese government officials have acknowledged that several venues for the July 24-Aug. 9 Games will be hot.

Last summer, officials surveyed conditions where the tennis, sailing and golf events will be held and noted that temperatures topped 31 Celsius (88 Fahrenheit) on multiple days, a level which usually triggers the Japan Sports Association's requirement that exercise be stopped.

The government has been investigating ways to protect athletes and spectators from the heat. One suggestion is to apply a special coating to roads in Tokyo to reduce surface temperatures.

Officials propose to use a material that reflects infrared rays from the sun so that road surfaces stay cooler but say using the coating will cost up to twice as much as regular methods.

When Tokyo was bidding for the 2020 Games, it promoted a compact plan with almost all of the venues inside an 8-km radius from the Olympic village.

But since winning the bid, several sports have been moved outside Tokyo to neighboring Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba prefectures to cut costs, with cycling even farther away in Izu.

Baker doesn't see that as a major concern.

"In general this is still a compact venue plan," Baker said. "We've just visited the aquatics venues and they are all really close to the Athlete's Village. There are some venues that are further away but people aren't too concerned by that."

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