Wednesday 17 July 2019

Thousands of Tokyo commuters told to work from home to avoid Olympic crush

Employees will stay home for two weeks as part of mass trial to take pressure off crowded public transport system

Hundreds of thousands of employees in Tokyo will work from home for two weeks as part of a trial of measures designed to reduce congestion during next year’s Olympics.

With more than 8 million people commuting into Tokyo every day, the influx of visitors for the Games in 2020 is expected to pile more pressure on the Japanese capital’s infamously crowded train system.

So, in an attempt to offset the arrival of thousands of sports fans, more than 50,000 workers from Fujitsu, 34,000 from NEC and 1,600 from Toyota’s Tokyo office are set to join up to 600,000 employees from 3,000 other companies who will work from home between 22 July and 6 September.
 Twenty million train rides are taken daily in the Tokyo. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The campaign, dubbed “Telework Days”, is being promoted by the government and Olympic organising committee.

Office equipment maker Ricoh is planning to close its Tokyo headquarters for two weeks during the Olympics and will set up satellite work sites for those of its 2,000 employees who need to meet clients or hold important meetings. Ricoh will participate in the practice run beginning this month.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics will run from 24 July to 9 August, followed by the Paralympics from 25 August to 6 September. As many as 650,000 spectators are expected to be in Tokyo on the busiest days of the Games.

Tokyo’s trains are known for images of white-gloved guards pushing commuters into carriages during rush hours on the busiest of the 121 lines that serve the greater metropolitan area, home to more than 35 million people. Twenty million train rides are taken daily in the metropolis. Train operators are planning to extend operating hours for the duration of the Olympics. Most lines usually shut down soon after midnight.

Leading beverage company Asahi Breweries in June announced it will change the shifts of 30% of its delivery drivers to off peak times during the Games, as well as move some imports of wine and other products to less busy periods.

Another major concern for the Olympics is blistering heat and stifling humidity, exacerbated after a heatwave killed dozens in Japan last summer. The start times for the marathons have been brought forward to 6am and the 50 kilometre walk to 5.30am. However, worries for the safety of athletes persist.

(Source: The Guardian)

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