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Impact of 2020 Olympics, Paralympics being felt

by Minoru Matsutani

Staff Writer

The scheduled 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo have had a tremendously positive impact on Japanese people’s mind-set, playing a large part in the return of a brisk economy, said a government official in charge of preparations for the games.

“The fact that Tokyo was selected to host the games makes a huge contribution to getting Japan out of deflationary sentiment,” said Takeo Hirata, director-general, Office for the Promotion of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympics Games, Cabinet Secretariat.

The professor at Waseda University also said, “Students now think about what they are doing in seven years.”

“Before, they read newspapers and everything they read was negative and gloomy. Now there is light in the future and university lecturers are also in a mind-set that sees them talk to students about a bright future,” he said.

According to The Mori Memorial Foundation’s estimate, the games will have an economic impact of ¥19.4 trillion for Japan. That is equivalent to about ¥1.4 trillion annually, or about 0.3 percent of the country’s GDP. The impact includes an increase in the number of foreign tourists, building new hotels or renovating existing ones, other various urbanization projects, an increase in employment in related industries and the so-called “dream effect,” the increase in individual consumption stemming from the celebratory mood.

In his capacity as the government representative overseeing preparations for the games, Hirata is meeting with Tokyo Metropolitan Government officials, Japanese Olympic Committee officials and others in related fields.

“The metropolitan government and the sports industry will do the actual preparations, and my office will coordinate with them and the central government,” Hirata, who has been involved in sports promotion in Japan such as the J League, said.

Among many preparations necessary, building barrier-free infrastructure is one of the most important, he said. For example, logistics from Narita or Haneda airports to central Tokyo will have to be barrier-free so that physically disabled people can smoothly come to participate in the games.

He would also like to promote a “barrier-free mentality” by enlightening the general public about the importance of helping the disabled and each other.

For example, in a society that has this barrier-free mentality, not only station officials but also passengers help the disabled to get on and off trains, he said.

“The barrier-free mentality, easy access from airports to an urban area and other infrastructure will remain after the games. Especially, the barrier-free mentality will remain as a Japanese tradition,” he said.

Hosting the Olympics and Paralympics often triggers social reforms in the host country, as happened in London during preparations for the 2012 Games.

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