Ja­pan looks to cruise ships for Olympics

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

The Ja­panese govern­ment is fi­nal­iz­ing a plan to al­low large cruise ships to be used as ho­tels to al­le­vi­ate the ex­pected short­age of ac­com­mo­da­tion fa­cil­i­ties dur­ing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Par­a­lympics, ac­cord­ing to sources.

Govern­ment of­fi­cials will care­fully ex­am­ine rel­e­vant reg­u­la­tions, in­clud­ing the Inns and Ho­tels Law, and es­tab­lish the nec­es­sary le­gal frame­work to smooth the way for cruise ships from Ja­pan and abroad to make longterm stays in Tokyo Bay and op­er­ate as ho­tels dur­ing the Games.

The govern­ment hopes us­ing ho­tel ships dur­ing the Olympics will en­able such a sys­tem to be­come es­tab­lished and open the door to it be­ing used dur­ing emer­gen­cies and other ma­jor events.

The Port of Tokyo and the Port of Yoko­hama are con­sid­ered the lead­ing can­di­dates for where the cruise ships would be moored. The Port of Tokyo has three wharves ca­pa­ble of moor­ing a cruise ship weigh­ing 50,000 tons or more that can ac­com­mo­date more than 1,000 peo­ple, and the Port of Yoko­hama has six such wharves. Ac­cord­ing to the sources, mul­ti­ple ships could drop an­chor at these ports for an ex­tended pe­riod dur­ing the Games.

The govern­ment also will ex­am­ine whether the Port of Kawasaki and Kis­arazu Port in Chiba Pre­fec­ture could meet the needs of cruise ship op­er­a­tors and lo­cal gov­ern­ments. The govern­ment plans to also al­low Ja­panese res­i­dents to stay on the ships, rather than lim­it­ing their use to Games of­fi­cials and foreign vis­i­tors.

If cruise ships are deemed to be ho­tels, their com­pli­ance with rel­e­vant laws and reg­u­la­tions will be­come an is­sue. For ex­am­ple, the cur­rent Inns and Ho­tels Law has no clear pro­vi­sion stip­u­lat­ing whether these ships would need a busi­ness li­cense. The Im­mi­gra­tion Con­trol Law con­tains an ex­cep­tional mea­sure al­low­ing foreign crew mem­bers to land for a pe­riod not ex­ceed­ing 15 days, but if these crew were con­sid­ered ho­tel em­ploy­ees, they would fall out­side the law. Serv­ing meals pre­pared on board to peo­ple other than pas­sen­gers would re­quire an im­port li­cense un­der the Cus­toms Law.

In 1989, the Queen Elizabeth 2 ocean liner, which could ac­com­mo­date 1,770 peo­ple, stayed for 65 days dur­ing the Yoko­hama Ex­otic Show­case. Despite this do­mes­tic prece­dent, “The le­gal in­ter­pre­ta­tion of that time is vague,” a govern­ment of­fi­cial said.

On Thurs­day, the Cabi­net Sec­re­tariat, the Land, In­fra­struc­ture, Trans­port and Tourism Min­istry and other rel­e­vant govern­ment bod­ies set up a work­ing group to con­sider le­gal re­vi­sions and es­tab­lish­ing nec­es­sary le­gal in­ter­pre­ta­tions, and to dis­cuss mak­ing the “ho­tel ship plan” a re­al­ity. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from about 10 ma­jor travel agen­cies and cruise ship op­er­a­tors were to join the group as ob­servers. The group also was to con­sider how pas­sen­gers would ac­cess Olympic sport­ing venues and how to re­spond to crimes and fires on board the ships. It will com­pile con­crete mea­sures pos­si­bly by the end of this year.

Ho­tel ships have of­ten been used dur­ing Olympic Games in re­cent times. Three cruise ships were moored for be­tween 34 and 38 days dur­ing the 2010 Van­cou­ver Win­ter Games, pro­vid­ing a to­tal of 190,000 nights of ac­com­mo­da­tion dur­ing that pe­riod. Cruise ships also were used dur­ing the 2012 Lon­don, 2014 Sochi and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, and there have been grow­ing calls from do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional busi­ness op­er­a­tors to al­low ships to make long-term stays dur­ing the Tokyo Games.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

A po­lice of­fi­cer walks past the the Sil­ver Cloud cruise ship at the 2016 Sum­mer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last Au­gust.

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