The Yomiuri Shimbun NAGANO — Municipalities in Nagano Prefecture are hoping to take advantage of their high elevations to provide athletes competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics with options for high-altitude training.
Efforts include using forestry roads for training courses and frenzied building of indoor facilities. The public and private sectors are working together to lay out the welcome mat.
The municipal government of Komoro has 14 kilometers of forestry roads at 1,000 meters and four kilometers at 2,000 meters on the Takamine highlands, and has also completed lodging facilities within walking distance.
“I don’t know of any other place in Japan where you can train at an altitude of 2,000 meters,” said Masaaki Watanabe, 55, who managed the Nippon Sport Science University team that came fourth overall in this year’s Hakone Ekiden race.
In May, people associated with the U.S. and German triathlon teams visited the area to inspect the facilities.
The municipal government, chamber of commerce and industry and other entities formed a committee to promote high-altitude training last year, and have sent pamphlets to associations representing track and field other sports around the country.
The Italian team competing in the 2019 Rugby World Cup is planning to train at Sugadaira highlands in Ueda, where a 900-square-meter combination gymnasium and workout facility was completed on Sept. 1.
The city is planning to invite other sports to host tournaments and training camps.
Meanwhile, the city of Tomi is building a pool at an elevation of 1,750 meters on the Yunomaru highlands, to be completed in June next year. Tateshina is constructing a cross-country course at a town-run ranch.
Many athletes train at high altitudes because it improves cardiac functions, but there are few high-altitude sites or facilities in Japan.
Top domestic and foreign athletes would be a draw for other customers. “We are hoping for economic effects,” one official of a municipality in the prefecture said.
To improve their capacity to welcome athletes, the prefectural government organized a study session in May for municipalities looking to provide high-altitude training. Topics discussed included the costs of hosting and ways to use volunteers.
“We want to promote the strengths of Nagano’s high altitudes and increase the number of people we have exchanges with,” said Ichiyo Kobayashi, a planning official at the prefecture’s tourism section.Speech