By Jonathan Rest in Tokyo
Tokyo requires no major transport network upgrades if it is awarded the right to host the Olympic Games in 2020, because its present system is already among the most advanced in the world, the Tokyo 2020 bid team told the International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission on day three of its inspection of the city today.
In a presentation to the IOC panel, Takayuki Kishii, professor in the department of civil engineering at Nihon University, said there was "sufficient capacity" in all areas of the air, public and road transport networks to "guarantee safe operations" during an Olympic Games.
He said that any transport infrastructure projects - three ring roads are being built to keep heavy transport out of the city centre - will be completed regardless of the Olympic bid.
Kishii explained: "We are not just improving infrastructure to serve the purposes of Tokyo 2020. It is part of the long-term vision to improve the city. In Tokyo already today the major core transportation systems already exist. All we have to do is undertake a very orderly implementation of those plans so we can satisfy the demand in a very efficient and friendly manner."
"We would like to have the people enjoy the transportation systems. That will be one of the core objectives of our plans with measures such as Olympic lanes among the additional ideas to be added in for the games."
Kishii rejected claims that his boast that Tokyo has "an excellent public transport system compared with the big cities in the world" could be viewed as complacency and overconfidence in the eyes of the IOC, noting that he was simply "very proud of Tokyo’s transportation systems."
He continued: "Risks always exist where you have a large-scale event but we have already taken sufficient counter measures."
The IOC evaluation commission heads to Istanbul later this month, a city renowned for its heavy traffic, where the issue of transport systems will no doubt be a topic of much debate.
Before that, the 14-strong inspection panel will visit Madrid from March 18 to 21.
On the issue of transport, Tokyo 2020 said today that all accredited media, as at London 2012, will travel free of charge on the city's public transport during the games, while media shuttle buses will also be in operation 24 hours a day.
A promise of free internet connection for the media was also made to the IOC, a welcome development for the press from the costly services offered in recent Olympics host cities Beijing, Vancouver and London.
Tokuaki Suzuki, Tokyo 2020's deputy director general of international relations and communications, said that additional discussions were still taking place over whether all or some of the Olympic Results and Information Services could also be offered free of charge.
He said: "In principle, we would like to provide as much of it as possible free, but ultimately it may be related to content. We haven’t really concluded discussions with the IOC. To what level it is free, and what contents should be charged for, we would have to discuss that with the games organising committee."
The IOC will award the 2020 Olympics at its Session in Buenos Aires on September 7.