National

Mori says Tokyo faces Olympics transport crisis following Koike’s Tsukiji decision

Kyodo

Tokyo Olympic organizing committee President Yoshiro Mori warned of potential dire consequences to the transport operations of the 2020 Games after Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike announced her plans on the Tsukiji fish market Tuesday.

After months of haggling, Koike said she will redevelop Tsukiji in five years after moving the market to nearby Toyosu. The market’s relocation was in place before Koike took office in August, but she suspended the move amid soil and air pollution concerns at the new site.

Mori hit out at Koike’s long drawn-out decision on Tuesday, saying the delay in moving the market will almost certainly impact transport projects for the Tokyo Games, namely the No. 2 ring road that will connect the Olympic Park and the Olympic village with the International Olympic Committee hotels.

The road — part of which was supposed to pass through a tunnel beneath Tsukiji, which should have already been vacated per the initial plan — is to be designated an Olympic lane during the games.

Mori said the governor needed to make the call on the market by March for the tunnel to be built on time. While Koike on Tuesday said the road will be completed, the governor did not say how — now without the option of the tunnel.

“This matter is the biggest problem we face at the organizing committee right now, and are discussing how we can solve it,” a visibly frustrated Mori said.

“Unless (Koike) has some incredible magic trick up her sleeve, the tunnel is no longer a realistic option. She owes it to us, the citizens of Tokyo and the relevant people at the IOC to explain herself — and quickly.”

The 2020 coordination commission is set to be held June 28-30, when the latest headache for Tokyo will be addressed. Organizers urged the Koike establishment to step up and find a fast solution.

“The promises made in the bid book are made by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, not the organizing committee,” said 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto. “If those promises cannot be kept, then the metropolitan government must come up with a sufficient alternative plan.”

“We are not the ones building the roads. It is on the metropolitan government to think about this, first and foremost.”

Organizers also said Tuesday the games’ torch relay will likely start from Okinawa or one of the disaster areas of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami before passing through all 47 of Japan’s prefectures.

Tokyo 2020 chief operating officer Yukihiko Nunomura said no start date for the relay has been set, although it is expected to last for more than 100 days. The next meeting of the torch relay committee is scheduled for mid-July.