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Tokyo 2020's Mori, Paralympic chairman, toss cold water on Yokohama venue idea

Tokyo 2020 organizing committee chief Yoshiro Mori on Dec. 2 threw cold water on the idea of using Yokohama Arena in Yokohama for Olympic and Paralympic volleyball.

    Converting the arena for use as a 2020 games venue has been proposed as an alternative to building a brand new facility in Tokyo's Ariake district. However, following a coordination meeting with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Dec. 2, Mori told a news conference, "I don't think it's possible to hold Paralympic events there (at the Yokohama Arena)," hinting at worries about the lack of barrier-free infrastructure around the venue.

    Japanese Paralympic Committee (JPC) President Yasushi Yamawaki, who also attended the Dec. 2 meeting, declared that the Yokohama Arena "is entirely out of the question for the Paralympics," and added, "I have a big problem with the fact that the arena was proposed as an alternative in the first place."

    The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is calling on the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to produce "accessibility guidelines" to select event venues. According to Yamawaki, the Ariake Arena plans already meet accessibility guidelines, while he's "under the impression that (Yokohama) isn't doing much" to make the city barrier free, such as creating enough space for wheelchairs to move around.

    The Ariake Arena is also scheduled to host wheelchair basketball, and Yamawaki furthermore revealed that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government had not contacted either the JPC or the Japan Wheelchair Basketball Federation about potentially moving events to Yokohama.

    "There are a lot of problems with Yokohama," he said.

    Meanwhile, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike told a regular news conference on Dec. 2 that she wanted the Olympic and Paralympic volleyball venue issue settled "by mid-December" at the latest -- instead of "by Christmas" as she had earlier stated.

    "We can't cause trouble for the staff at the IOC, which goes on break starting about 10 days before Christmas," she said.

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