IOC confirms new sailing venue for 2020 Olympic Games

Published on June 9th, 2015

(June 9, 2015) – The International Olympic Committee announced their choice of Enoshima Yacht Harbor in the coastal city of Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture to host sailing events for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The city also hosted the sailing events at the 1964 Olympic Games.

The sailing venue was initially planned for the Wakasu Olympic Marina, a new Olympic sailing marina to be built next to Tokyo Gate Bridge in Tokyo Bay. However, these plans were abandoned due to cost and an inability to gain clearance for aerial broadcast coverage from Tokyo’s nearby Haneda Airport.

“I feel relieved,” said Fujisawa Mayor Tsuneo Suzuki. “It’s an overwhelming feeling the city is experiencing for a second time.”

As for Enoshima, a small island connected to the city of Fujisawa by a causeway, Suzuki said he believed the deciding factors were its proximity to Tokyo and its natural environment and weather.

He said the waves and wind allow for superior sailing conditions and gave Enoshima an edge over rival venues Mihama, Chiba Prefecture, and Gamagori, Aichi Prefecture.

“The fact that from here you can enjoy the view of Mount Fuji could have been one of the reasons why it is a good place to host the event,” he mused.

But Suzuki cautioned that if the event is going to be a success, much investment will be needed in infrastructure and facilities, including accommodations for athletes.

Moreover, the sailing events will coincide with the busy beach season, when visitors flock there to swim and enjoy the atmosphere. The city will therefore need to guard against road traffic congestion.

Fujisawa will also work closely with the prefectural government to make sure the Olympics do not take a toll on the local fishing industry, Suzuki said.

“We’ve been given the best chance to show the world the beauty of this region,” said Hirokazu Yuasa of the Fujisawa City Tourist Association.

Local residents and visitors to the city also expressed excitement.

“Although sailing is not popular yet, I hope the fact that Enoshima has been selected as the venue for the sailing event will help engage more women and young people in this sport,” said a 44-year-old woman from the nearby city of Zushi. She said she often visits the area to take a pleasure boat ride.

“Sagami Bay is a famous course used by sailors,” said professional yachtsman Takeshi Hara, 51. Over the course of his 28-year sailing career, Hara has taken part in competitions held by Enoshima Yacht Harbor.

“It’s close to Tokyo and I think it’s a good location for a calm and quiet race,” Hara said.

Kanagawa Gov. Yuji Kuroiwa pledged to do all he can to make the competition a success.

Source: The Japan Times

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