ReutersTOKYO (Reuters) — Planning for the Tokyo 2020 Games has been made harder because of the high disaster risks in Japan, a reality hammered home by a deadly typhoon and earthquake last week, International Olympic Committee (IOC) member and top Tokyo planner John Coates said Wednesday.
Western Japan last week saw the strongest typhoon to hit the nation in 25 years, and then just days later by, an earthquake paralyzed the northernmost main island of Hokkaido, leaving roughly 40 dead.
Japan also suffered through a summer of record-breaking heat and deadly, torrential rains in July that unleashed landslides and flooding.
Coates, chairman of the Coordination Commission for Tokyo 2020, admitted the two disasters just a week before had been a bit of a reality check about the planning difficulties for what are already extremely complex Games featuring a record number of sports.
“So what happened last week and what happened in Osaka certainly have hit home to me, and I know the Organizing Committee, about the further complexity of planning these games,” Coates told a news conference, referring to a storm surge that submerged Kansai International Airport near Osaka. He said he knew organizers take the issue seriously and factoring it into their planning and scheduling.
“In Sydney, we had a simulation exercise one week of what could go wrong, but they were all disasters that we dreamed up: a train coming off the rails out in the Blue Mountains, someone bursting through and attacking one of the marathon runners — Those sorts of things. But you don’t have to dream anything up in this country, it’s very sad to say.”