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  • Tokyo 'Hundreds' of Accessible Hotel Rooms Short for Paralympics


    (ATR) The Tokyo Metropolitan Government admits by its own estimations that it still requires 300 accessible hotel rooms to fill demand for the 2020 Paralympics.

    Tokyo, Japan (ATR)
    Accessible hotel rooms have been a concern for Tokyo since winning the right to host the 2020 Paralympics, and is an issue that has routinely drawn the attention of the International Paralympic Committee. 

    Currently the TMG says that it has 550 rooms that qualify as being accessible for the 2020 Paralympics. That is 300 rooms short of the “estimated demand” of 850 rooms needed during the Paralympics based on the TMG’s internal metrics. The IPC was not immediately available to provide its own internal metrics for the number of necessary rooms for the 2020 Paralympics.

    Plans are already in place by both the Japanese government and Tokyo Metropolitan Government to increase the number of accessible hotel rooms. Starting in September, the national government will require new and refurbished hotels with more than 50 rooms to have one percent of rooms set aside as accessible.

    “Once the legislation is enforced, new and refurbished hotels across Japan will be required to offer more rooms with accommodations,” a TMG official told Around the Rings “The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) will enforce the legislation.”

    In Tokyo, amendments to the “Barrier-free Building Ordinance” will be put before the TMG assembly this month. The amendments target new and existing hotels with at least 1,000 square meters of floor space.

    “We plan to establish a new legislation of the accessibility for all general hotel rooms for the first time in Japan which includes eliminating any difference in level on the floor (no step) and keeping the width of entrance to be 80 cm or more,” the official said. “The TMG aims to boost up the level of accessibility toward the Tokyo 2020 Games.

    “The TMG offers subsidies to promote the barrier-free modification to the hotel owners. To encourage the hotel owners’ modification toward the Tokyo 2020 Games, the TMG increased the target hotel range, raised the rate and the amount limit of subsidies and enhanced the budgets compared to last year.”

    During the Paralympics themselves, athletes will be housed in the Paralympic Village, but that will not solve issues before the Games begin. Many teams will be holding pre-Games training camps around Japan and will require accessible rooms, so rooms in Tokyo are not the only concern of the IPC. Regardless, National Paralympic Committee partners, broadcasters, and even spectators could be caught up in the shortage.

    Parsons at Japan house during PyeongChang 2018 (ATR)
    “A good piece of news is we are working with the national government to change the legislation,” IPC President Andrew Parsons told ATR last week. “It won’t affect the games, [but] it’s a legacy for after that will increase the number of accessible rooms in hotels throughout Japan.”

    Currently legislation in Japan requires hotels to have at least one accessible room regardless of its size if it has at least 50 rooms. That means that large hotels with hundreds of rooms sometimes have the same number of accessible rooms as smaller hotels.

    Upcoming changes will require a proportion of rooms be set aside as accessible, meaning larger hotels will be compelled to have more accessible rooms.

    Another issue that the IPC has run into is the difference in standards for accessibility in Japan compared to other developed countries. On top of working with the Japanese government to encourage the construction of more accessible rooms, the Parsons said the IPC has worked to compel Japan to address raising its standard of accessibility.

    Changes to current ordinances and upgrading the number of accessible rooms is a start, but the reality remains that it is unlikely that all of the issues for the Paralympics will be solved before summer of 2020.

    While the IPC has maintained public pressure on the Tokyo organizing committee, the process will ultimately leave a “legacy for after [Tokyo 2020] that will increase the number of accessible rooms in hotels throughout Japan,” according to Parsons.

    “I’m not saying it’s a major issue that will affect the delivery of the Games,” Parson added. “But it will affect the experience of our clients.”

    Written by Aaron Bauer

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