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Gov't to request summer holiday shift to reduce congestion during Tokyo 2020

(Image courtesy of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games)

TOKYO -- In an attempt to reduce the projected public transportation congestion in the Tokyo metropolitan areas during the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the central government is calling on companies in the area to shift summer holidays to align with the Games.

Japanese summer holidays usually fall around the "Bon" festival held in mid-August. The government is requesting the cooperation of firms to move holiday periods to around the July 24 to Aug. 9 run of the 2020 Tokyo Games. Officials are expecting the move will effectively reduce congestion and provide smooth transportation for athletes and game officials -- a top priority for the busy metro area. The request is due to be made soon, as July 24 marks two years before the opening of the Olympics.

The 2012 London Games, held in a large city similar to Tokyo, was used as model for the plan. London successfully reduced congestion by encouraging companies with over 200 workers to take summer holidays during the games. There have also been attempts by other host cities to reduce population density in areas around the venues in the past. For the 2008 Beijing Games, migrant workers in the city were forced to return home.

The Japanese government began conducting hearings with companies this year, and has reportedly received a positive response from the economic sector. To make the holidays more meaningful for employees, the development of company volunteer leave systems is also being pushed.

There will be maximum-level security during opening and closing ceremonies when VIPs come to Japan, and the demand for transportation has to be managed. Legislation moving 2020 public holidays such as Health and Sports Day (second Monday of October), Marine Day (third Monday of July) and Mountain Day (Aug. 11) before or after the ceremonies has also been passed. The government also began telecommuting experiments last summer, having employees work from home in preparation for the Games.

(Japanese original by Akira Matsumoto, Sports News Department)

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