Organizers of the Tokyo Olympic Games, with the start less than six months away, are putting the final touches to preparations, but the area that they are most concerned about remains readiness for any natural disaster striking during the event.
With thousands of foreigner athletes and spectators expected to descend on Tokyo from July 24 to Aug. 9, organizers are acutely aware of the need to provide clear instructions in English, and raise awareness of what to do in case of an earthquake or tsunami.
More than 200 of Tokyo’s about 570,000 foreign residents yesterday gathered at Musashino Forest Sports Plaza, which is to stage events during the Games, to run through drills aimed at making them more disaster-savvy.
As well as testing earthquake simulators, the participants were also taught how to use fire extinguishers, walk through smoke-filled rooms, place a telephone call to the police in case of an emergency and even what exercises to do if stuck in an evacuation shelter.
Japan is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to typhoons and earthquakes, and experiences an average of 1,500 temblors a year — although few cause any damage, let alone loss of life.
However, experts believe that there is a 70 percent chance of a major earthquake striking the Japanese capital in the next 30 years.
Because of this, the foreign residents welcomed all the advice that they got.
“For the Japanese government to hold an event like this, it really helps foreigners like me, because kids in Japan are already taught in school, but we have no idea,” said Vietnamese student Hoa Nguyen, who has lived in Japan for more than a year.
More than 30 interpreters, covering six languages, were on hand to help the participants, who hailed from 44 countries.
“I actually think it is amazing the effort. They tell you ... to prepare, prepare, prepare because it is easy to go through daily life and not worry about it,” Nicaraguan Ambassador to Japan Rodrigo Coronel said.
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