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Japan begins preparations for 2020 Olympics

Tokyo, Sep 9 , 2013 (IANS): 20:52 IST
Preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics are already underway with Japan sizing up plans to ready its sporting facilities and urban infrastructure, Japanese officials said Monday.

Fresh from getting the nod Saturday from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for Tokyo to host the games, Japan will reconsider the idea of setting up a new sports agency, as was floated prior to Tokyo failing to secure the 2016 Games, which were awarded to Rio de Janeiro, with the aim of further promoting sports on a national level in the run-up to the Games, reports Xinhua.

Japan is planning to see an amalgamation of training programs for both Olympic and Paralympic athletes, as part of a broader strategy to consolidate the Games, officials said.
In addition, they said Japan will seek to make training facilities available to both Olympic and Paralympic athletes and the endeavours will also fall under the education ministry and its new agency's jurisdiction.

An Olympic organising committee will also be established in February as the city looks to upgrade its sporting facilities in the capital and build an Olympic Village.

The committee will oversee the government's plans to revitalize Tokyo's waterfront area as one of the major focal points of its 2020 objectives.

The Tokyo Bay Olympic Village will have 21 venues on waterfront sites and 85 percent of the venues will be within 8 km of each other, according to provisional plans.

With funds to the tune of $4.5 billion allocated for the Games, 10 new permanent sporting venues will be built and the committee will also oversee the renovation of three venues used when Tokyo first hosted the Games in 1964.

Initial plans will see the Yoyogi National Gymnasium, which was the venue for swimming and basketball in 1964, host handball in 2020 and the table tennis competitions will be held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, which hosted both water polo and gymnastics in 1964.

As with the previous Olympics here, the Nippon Budokan will host the judo events, officials added.

The centrepiece of Tokyo's Olympic plan, however, is to revamp the Kasumigaoka National Stadium and the overhaul will be coordinated by British architecture firm, Zaha Hadid Architects, who have laid down plans to build an ultra-modern complex with a capacity for 80,000 spectators, with the project pegged to be completed in time for the 2019 Rugby World Cup here.

However, as Japan eyes the economic benefits the 2020 Olympics will bring, some authorities have voiced concern that Shinzo Abe and his administration have glossed over the severity of an ongoing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant 250 km northeast of the capital, in order to secure the prestigious Games.

In addition, and as the tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant continues to leak 300 tons of radioactive water into the adjacent pacific Ocean on a daily basis, concern is also rife that the thousands of people still living in temporary facilities in Japan's northeast following the March 2011 mega-quake that pummelled the eastern seaboard, triggering a killer tsunami, may be overlooked.

Concern is growing that as construction in the nation's capital swings into gear and becomes the government's main priority, public funds still needed in the quake and tsunami-affected areas may be redirected as the Games - pitched to the IOC as a symbol of the nation's recovery after the 2011 disasters - ironically take precedence.

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