Details of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Accessibility
MemberJuly 29, 2019 at 12:05 pm
Details of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Accessibility | July 28, 2019 | by Justin Schroth
With an aging population requiring an increasing amount of accessible needs, a massive amount of tourist visiting Japan (over 30 million in 2018 according to JTB Tourism Research & Consulting Co.), and the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics less than a year away, it’s no wonder that Japan has been paying close attention to detail in respect to the needs of those living with disabilities.
If you’ve deal with the challenges that come with getting around Japan with a disability in the past, you may understand how things like wheelchair accessible areas/restrooms, benches to rest on, accessible car/bus access areas, or even comfortable seating locations can be a problem. Well there is some good news, all of this and more has been considered in preparation for the Olympics.
To list out all the accessibility options would create a long and potentially boring list. So, the focus here will be on a few items that may not have been so common prior to the dawn of the new millennia in Japan.
To start, we have an interesting aspect of accessibility found at the new stadium, while being attentive to the space requirements necessary for those in wheelchairs, the designers also wanted to ensure the visual angle of all audience members would be unobstructed. They did this by designing various floor height levels of the seats so that, even if the audience in front of them stands up in cheerful excitement, an audience member in a wheelchair will have a sightline over their heads. Only a few decades ago the use of such space and height may have been used to pack in more rows of seats, allowing instead for more non-disabled audience members. So, changes like these that allow those in wheelchairs to participate are a welcome sight (not to mention great for attending future events at the stadium).
The needs of more than just those in wheelchairs are also being addressed, a few of these include:
- Voice guided displays, voice guided information, and voice guided emergency equipment as well as removal of tripping hazards for those with visual impairments.
- Text guided displays, text guided information, and lighted/flashing emergency equipment for those with hearing impairments.
- More resting areas, such as benches, for those who can only walk shorter distances.
- …and so much more including more common accommodations adopted by major cities around the world (including Tokyo).
Japan seems to be making every effort to accommodate all the physical locations for the needs of just about anyone who wishes to attend the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. So, if you are thinking of going, accessing the locations may be one less concern for you.
If you are interested in the technical specifications of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games accessibility guidelines, as well as other technical accessibility support information, you can find a few very detailed PDF’s in English here: https://tokyo2020.org/en/organising-committee/accessibility/
Up until now, only locations were mentioned, but you will have to get around Tokyo if you want to see various Olympic events or even additional sightseeing locations. As mentioned in the forums and on Accessible Japan, Tokyo has one of the best mass-transit train/rail systems in the world. It is very accessible and once you get used to it, easy to use. You may be able to see everything using the rails alone, and it can be made even easier if use a JR Rail pass for the time you’re there.
For more information on JR Rail passes, head over to: http://www.japanrailpass.net/en/
Nevertheless, if you need to go shorter distances, several options are growing in anticipation of the Olympics. More public transportation buses are being equipped with lifts and seating for wheelchairs, as well as an increasing number of taxi vans being made available. Toyota has also made efforts to assist those with disabilities getting around short distances to venue events. NHK WORLD Japan featured Toyota’s unveiling of new Electric Vehicle (EV) shuttles, that are easy to board and energy efficient.
You can see the EV shuttle in the attached photo, or here in a short video from Facebook Video, NHK WORLD Japan: https://www.facebook.com/nhkworld/videos/504034810367492/
Also unveiled by NHK WORLD Japan, and in true Japanese style in using technology to solve problems, we have a “Ninja Robot” known as NIN_NIN that may help both Olympic attendees living with visual disabilities and people who wish to have a translator wherever they go. Okay, from that information you may have a visual that doesn’t quite match what this assistive piece of technology looks like. So, if such a device interests you (of for a friend/family member), check out this short video from Facebook Video, NHK WORLD Japan: https://www.facebook.com/nhkworld/videos/276375713227847/
Hopefully NIN_NIN will be made widely available by the time the Olympics starts, but as of now most information about it is found on Japanese language sites (the author of this article will try to post any updated information about NIN_NIN when it is made available).
The upcoming 2020 Olympics looks to be a momentous occasion, and Japan could possible be one of the safest and accommodating places to hold such an event. It may not be possible for everyone to go, but at least it looks like accessibility is one fewer reason to deny so many people from becoming a part of this world-wide event.
“Accessibility.” The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, tokyo2020.org/en/organising-committee/accessibility/.
JAPAN RAIL PASS, http://www.japanrailpass.net/en/.
“Ninja Robot Opens Up New Worlds.” Facebook Video, NHK WORLD Japan, http://www.facebook.com/nhkworld/videos/276375713227847/.
“Overseas Residents’ Visits to Japan by Year.” JTB Tourism Research & Consulting Co., Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), http://www.tourism.jp/en/tourism-database/stats/inbound/
“Toyota Unveils EV Shuttle for Tokyo Olympics.” Facebook Video, NHK WORLD Japan, http://www.facebook.com/nhkworld/videos/504034810367492/.
“Toyota Unveils EV Shuttle for Tokyo Olympics.” NHK WORLD Japan, NHK WORLD, 19 July 2019, www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190718_49/. (source of attach photo)
DISCLAIMER: Accessible Travel Forum, Accessible Japan, and I are not paid by, or affiliated with, any of the companies or websites mentioned in this article.
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