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Ticket-buyer data to be used to ease transit congestion during Tokyo 2020

A father and his children express joy after acquiring tickets for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, on July 3, 2016. (Mainichi)

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic organizing committee are considering using the data of event ticket purchasers to ease transport congestion during the games, it has been learned.

Furthermore, in anticipation of train congestion between ticket purchasers' homes and event venues during Tokyo 2020, it is also planned to ask firms and public offices to encourage workers to take part in staggered commuting and similar schemes.

"We plan to provide notices in advance, in a similar way to a weekly weather forecast, in the hope that people will cooperate with our plans to ease congestion," a source involved in the plans revealed.

Tickets for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics are scheduled to go on sale about a year before the games kick off. Purchasers will be asked to provide personal information for security reasons, and to prevent the improper resale of tickets.

According to the draft review, simulations will be run to project which rail lines are likely to be congested for any given event, using information including the ticket-buyers' addresses. An official app will also provide hour-by-hour breakdowns, taking into account each day's event schedule.

The mass transit system in the greater Tokyo area, which regularly provides transportation updates via apps or social networking services (SNS), is calling for cooperation with the plans. Officials also believe that there are no legal issues with tapping ticket-holder data to ease transit congestion, provided that the information is handled appropriately and their names are not used. Planners are also considering determining where people visiting from afar are staying in the Tokyo area to better determine which rail lines are likely to be congested.

"We have to develop plans based on whatever information is out there. Ticket-purchasers' details are a lifeline in terms of managing transportation," a source involved in the games explained. Patterns such as the flow of people will also be analyzed, and the precision of transport congestion projections improved further.

The 2020 organizing committee predicts that about 7.8 million people will visit for the Olympic Games, and approximately 2.3 million people will attend the Paralympic Games, bringing the grand total to roughly 10 million.

Notably, the event venues are not exclusively located in Tokyo. They are spread out across eight prefectures, prompting a senior organizing committee official to state, "It will be impossible to have a successful tournament without a smooth transportation system."

The central government has also designated July 24, 2020 -- the date of the Tokyo Games opening ceremony -- as "Telework Day," encouraging Tokyo-area firms to have their employees work from home that day to reduce transport snarls across the region.

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