TOKYO -- The Tokyo government is considering having office buildings, convenience stores and other privately owned facilities keep spectators cool during next year's Summer Olympics and Paralympics to save on the cost of building new shelters, Nikkei has learned.
The city will ask the owners of buildings near train stations, match venues and routes for such events as the marathon to open their doors during the games, which take place between late July and early September -- right in the middle of Japan's hot and humid summer.
Spectators needing a break from the heat while walking to a stadium, for example, could step into an air-conditioned space in an office building. The city plans to install water coolers in these areas so that they can also be used as hydration stations.
Convenience stores will be asked to lend a hand during events such as marathons that take place on public streets. Because space for portable toilets is limited along these routes, the stores are likely to meet this need as well. Signs will be placed near the entrances of participating facilities to point visitors in the right direction.
Tokyo is trying out other cooling methods -- such as installing mist sprayers at venues and distributing ice packs, hand fans and paper hats -- at test events that got underway last week. During the games, the city plans to set up sprayers, spot coolers and aid stations, mainly in areas along the coast where the sun beats down hardest.
But because of the costs involved, these will cover only a limited area. The hope is that private property owners will help fill these gaps.
The games' organizing committee also plans to supply venues with tents and air-conditioning units and is considering relaxing restrictions on bringing bottled drinks into stadiums.
"There will be a lot of visitors coming from overseas who have never experienced the heat in Japan. We need to combine multiple methods," a senior Tokyo official said.