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Landmarks illuminated as Tokyo celebrates 2 yrs until Olympics

Organisers feel the heat two years out from Games

TOKYO, July 24, (RTRS): Famous landmarks across Japan were illuminated simultaneously on Tuesday to mark two years to go until the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Tokyo Tower and the Yoyogi Building shone in the Japanese capital, while other buildings stretching from the Goryokaku Tower in the northern Hokkaido region to Fukuoka Tower in the south were also lit-up in the colours of the Olympics rings.

Tokyo Skytree, the tallest tower in the world, was also illuminated following a countdown event held halfway up the 634-metre structure.

At the ceremony, commemorative lanterns were lit by school children, athletes and dignitaries, including Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori and Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike.

“We want to send a message to the world that Tokyo is a host city. Also, the success of the Tokyo Games depends on reconstruction (in Fukushima),” said Koike.

Eric Garcetti, the mayor of 2028 host city Los Angeles, was also in attendance as a guest of Koike.

“We share a common geography of the Pacific and we share a common dream of the future between Los Angeles and Tokyo,” Garcetti said.

“We come here with a delegation from Los Angeles today to pay our respects to the wonderful organising efforts of Tokyo 2020.”

The presentation stage was decorated with 731 paper lanterns, each representing the days remaining until the Games’ opening ceremony. Attendees wrote their wishes for the 2020 Games on the lanterns.

Sport climber Miho Nonaka, who will hope to be competing in the sport’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, said she wrote ‘even higher’ on her lantern.

“I want the (climbing) walls and my goals to be higher, and I want to climb to the highest point,” she said.

After the illumination, the athletes joined the assembled children in performing the Olympics’ official song ‘Tokyo Gorin Ondo 2020.’

The Tokyo Games will start on July 24, 2020 and run until Aug 9.

As Tokyo melts in a record-breaking heatwave, Olympic organisers are looking at ways to combat the heat when the 2020 Games rolls into town in two years.

With the temperature reaching a record 41.1 degrees Celsius (106 Fahrenheit) on Monday, concerns are high that similar conditions in 2020 could disrupt the Games and pose health issues for athletes and spectators alike.

Although organisers will hope temperatures do not reach such heights again, the Tokyo average in July is still over 30 Celsius since 1998, according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency.

“Yes, in recent days Tokyo and Japan has been like living in a sauna every day,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on Monday.

“For the athletes, I am sure they are training and very healthy in their bodies but for the spectators, who are cheering along the roadside, we cannot necessarily say they are training themselves to be very healthy.

“So, indeed, how to deal with this heat? This is one pillar needed for the success of the 2020 Games.”

Earlier this year, experts warned of the risks of heatstroke at the Games which run until Aug. 9, with conditions reaching levels at which sporting activities would normally be halted in the country.

Organisers are looking at a variety of counter-measures to deal with the heat, including scheduling the marathon session to start at 0700 local time.

They also want to grapple with the heat head-on using the latest technology.

“We have developed mist-spraying technologies, which are nano-particle-sized. It is a mist spray,” said Koike.

“In terms of the road, there is the heat-blocking or insulating technology. If this heat-blocking pavement is covering the asphalt then, on average, there will be a temperature suppression of eight degrees Celsius.”

Organisers have talked of spraying over 100 kilometres of road, including the route for the marathon and walking events.

“We are pleased to see that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has a plan to install this heat-proof road surfaces in various city centre (locations) with a total length of more than 100 kilometres,” said Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya.

“This includes the marathon course so it will be able to contribute to the counter-measures on heat.”

Although no product has yet been approved for use by Tokyo 2020 organisers, a compound produced by Fujita Road Construction Co Ltd made an appearance at the recent ‘Heat Solutions Expo’ held in the Japanese capital.

The product makes pedestrians feel a couple of degrees cooler by reflecting heat and ultraviolet rays when sprayed on asphalt and concrete road surfaces.



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