Ja­pan be­gins 2020 Olympic count­down

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - MARI YAMAGUCHI

TOKYO — Ja­pan be­gan its three­year count­down to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Mon­day with con­certs, races and other events meant to drum up pub­lic en­thu­si­asm for the games.

The 2020 Games will be Ja­pan’s first sum­mer Olympics since the 1964 edition in Tokyo. Af­ter a rocky start, or­ga­niz­ers are gear­ing up to get the pub­lic more in­volved.

A 15-day, 1,000-km cit­i­zens’ re­lay be­gan Mon­day in north­east­ern Ja­pan’s Ao­mori pre­fec­ture. Run­ners and cy­clists will travel through ar­eas rav­aged by the 2011 tsunami, reach­ing the cap­i­tal on Aug. 7.

Other events in­cluded group cal­is­then­ics, tra­di­tional dancing and surf­ing at the Olympic surf­ing venue. In Tokyo, a con­cert and other fes­tiv­i­ties were planned af­ter dark.

The Tokyo Olympics and Par­a­lympics are due to be held July 24Sept. 6, 2020.

Since pub­lic trans­port is crowded even with­out Olympics-re­lated vis­i­tors, the govern­ment launched an annual “telework” day on Mon­day to en­cour­age more peo­ple to do their jobs re­motely, es­pe­cially dur­ing the 2020 Games. Dozens of com­pa­nies have pledged to par­tic­i­pate.

Trou­bles over the de­sign for Tokyo’s Na­tional Sta­dium, the Olympics logo and soar­ing costs are still cast­ing a shadow as or­ga­niz­ers rush to meet tight dead­lines.

In April, an em­ployee of one of the Olympic con­trac­tors com­mit­ted sui­cide in a case be­lieved to be re­lated to over­work. Asked about the young man’s death af­ter hav­ing clocked more than 200 hours of over­time the month be­fore, Hikariko Ono, spokesper­son for Tokyo 2020, it was “very un­for­tu­nate.”

“We would like to re­mind all the par­ties to be mind­ful so that sim­i­lar cases will not be re­peated,” she said.


Ja­pan’s new Na­tional Sta­dium, fore­ground, is seen un­der con­struc­tion in Tokyo on Sun­day.

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