Prefectures, cities vie to host foreign training camps for 2020 Olympics


About 70 percent of the 47 prefectures are planning to invite foreign athletes to set up local training camps ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, a survey says.

Prefectures and big cities have set up dedicated bodies to collect information on the subject, the results of the survey, conducted by Jiji Press, suggested.

Questionnaires were sent to all 47 prefectures as well as the 20 major cities in October. All responded.

Thirty-three prefectures and 10 cities said they have plans to invite foreign athletes to set up training camps for the Tokyo Olympics. All of the others said they are considering such plans.

A total of 38 prefectures and 10 cities have set up dedicated organizations such as task forces and consultative forums, with local municipalities, the survey showed.

Some prefectures and cities have already started promotional activities related to the games.

Tochigi Prefecture has sent English-language booklets about the attractions in the prefecture to all foreign embassies in the country. Gov. Tomikazu Fukuda has also visited the British Embassy in Tokyo, hoping to take advantage of the prefecture’s connection to the embassy, which had a villa in Tochigi.

Kobe officials have visited Latvia, which is home to one of its sister cities, to invite its athletes to establish a training camp there.

Hokkaido has sent embassies cards with information gathered from municipalities about facilities available for Olympic training camps, nearby inns and hotels, and transport access.

In October, the prefecture and city of Fukuoka agreed to host Sweden’s athletes for pre-Olympic training in 2020 — the first such deal ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

“The Swedish side seems to have concluded that Fukuoka, which accepted such a camp before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is most suitable,” a city official said.

The survey also showed that many prefectures and big cities have stepped up their efforts to invite tourists and promote sports in preparation for the Olympics.

Their efforts include erecting signs in multiple languages and training volunteers to help tourists.

Kyoto plans to make its website for foreign tourists available in 13 languages by adding Arabic, Russian and others.

Gifu Prefecture has held a seminar to provide people working at local hotels and inns with information on the dietary restrictions of Muslims so they can accommodate such guests.

Among the three prefectures most affected by the 2011 disasters, Iwate has said it is eager to show the progress it has made with reconstruction by hosting Olympic training camps.

Miyagi Prefecture, where Olympic soccer games will be held, is calling for more support from the central government, saying it “places top priority on reconstruction-related projects and cannot set aside enough personnel and money for the Olympics.”