AS Japan gears up to host the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, the East Asian country is pulling out all stops to make the return of the Games a successful one.
From building The Aquatics Centre and The Musashino Forest Sport Plaza to a new railway line to link both Haneda Airport and Narita International Airport, to pushing for a smoking ban and ensuring all new hotels in Japan with more than 50 rooms to provide wheelchair-friendly accommodation, plenty is being done.
Even airlines are getting involved.
The 2020 Summer Olympics will mark the fourth time Japan has hosted the Games: Tokyo 1964 (Summer), Sapporo 1972 (Winter), and Nagano 1998 (Winter). Tokyo will become the first city in Asia to host the Olympics twice.
It will feature 339 gold medals, more than 11,000 athletes, 206 nations, and five new sports: baseball and softball, karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding.
With the hype over the Games, the Japanese government hopes to boost the number of foreign visitors from 28.7 million in 2017 to 40 million in 2020. And Japan is sure on track to making the Games its greatest one yet. However, it recently hit a snag.
According to researchers and local officials, despite construction efforts, sports fans could be facing a hotel shortage as Tokyo 2020 approaches, Travel Daily reported. Tokyo is well equipped to accommodate travelers but with the restrictions over Airbnb coupled with the Tokyo 2020 tourism boom, it could be short by 14,000 rooms.
Predicting this ahead, Tokyo officials are suggesting a temporary fix to help alleviate the lack of supply: cruise ships or “floating hotels”. In fact, Tokyo is currently considering opening a new terminal in Tokyo Bay, the most populous and largest industrialized area in Japan, to hold ships which could be docked for extra accommodation.
“We will have a shortage of hotels of a certain standard. Although we can’t disclose the actual numbers, we have received an excellent reaction from our customers,” JTB Tokyo 2020 Project Office head Minoru Kuge was quoted as saying.
JTB, Japan’s largest travel agency, has chartered the 1,011-cabin Sun Princess ship during the Tokyo 2020 period. For the uninitiated, the Sun Princess is a Sun-class cruise ship built in 1995 and operated by Princess Cruises. At the time of her construction, she was one of the largest cruise ships in the world.
Tokyo is currently also in discussions with companies such as MSC Cruises to dock the 992-cabin MSC Lirica ship at the city’s pier. To add on, there are plans for the 928-cabin Explorer Dream ship to dock in Kawasaki.