The opening day of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics could be made into a national holiday to limit the number of commuters pouring into the city.
The opening ceremony is scheduled for Friday, July 24, 2020, and a nonpartisan group of lawmakers for sports issues has agreed to submit a reform bill for the national holidays law next year so the day is granted one-off national holiday status.
On the first day, huge congestion is expected in and around Tokyo. Some roads may have to be closed to ensure the safe passage of foreign dignitaries attending the ceremony, and crowds of Olympic spectators will also be descending on the capital from around the world and mainly using public transportation.
The national holiday would slash the number of commuters in the city by reducing economic activities.
Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, who doubles as finance minister, heads the group of lawmakers that was formed to push for various changes to help ensure the smooth running of the Games.
The group is scheduled to meet Aug. 31 to discuss the issue and organize a working group to compose the reform bill.
It is understood the government is supportive of the effort, so the bill is expected to pass.
A senior member of the Cabinet Secretariat also mentioned that the government “considers making it a national holiday would be the best solution.”
Last year, the group started preparation to first amend the national holidays law to rename the Health-Sports Day, which falls on the second Monday of October, into Sports Day.
And they are looking at implementing a special measure for 2020 to transfer this October holiday to July 24 at the same time.
A few other suggestions have also been made including making July 24 a new permanent national holiday, or transferring Mountain Day from Aug. 11, or Marine Day from the third Monday of July to July 24 only for 2020.
Some people consider moving Health-Sports Day, a holiday that was established to commemorate the day of the Opening Ceremony of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, to a new date would be the easiest option of all and make the most sense.
(This article was written by Takahiro Okubo and Midori Iki.)