Tokyo Olympic Bid Highlights Universal Design

Access improvements made for the Olympics tend to make the host cities more accessible, long after the Olympic flame fades into the sunset.

Such is the case with Tokyo — or at least the Tokyo Olympic bid committee hopes it will be – as one of the potential host cities for the 2016 games.

With the bidding process already underway for the 2016 event; the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been using the “universal design” term a lot lately. In fact, they claim that their 112 proposed Olympic projects will all incorporate the principles of universal design.

That’s good news. In fact, I think prospective venues should get bonus points for using universal design.

If Tokyo hosts the event, the athletes will also have an easier time getting around; as most of the competition venues and official hotels will be located within eight kilometers of the Olympic Stadium.

And then there’s ground transportation.

Japan is already on the right track with their Traffic Barrier-Free Law. Enacted in 2000, and amended in 2006, this law requires every subway station in Tokyo (and nine other Japanese cities) to provide at least one barrier-free pathway from the entrance to the platform by 2010. That’s next year! So even if Tokyo doesn’t win the bid, the subway system will be more accessible

So Tokyo is well on the way, to being a very accessible Olympic host city. Of course Chicago is also in the running. And with their excellent access guide they’ll be stiff competition in the access arena.

The winner will be announced in October 2009. Either way, I’m happy that access is at least playing a part in the process.

May the best (most accessible) venue win!