TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo 2020 Olympics President Yoshiro Mori said on Tuesday he had met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to call on him to consider implementing daylight savings time amid concerns about athlete safety during the Games.
At least 120 people died during the scorching heat this summer, and with the 2020 Games to be held in late July and early August, Japan’s hottest, most humid months, there are fears athletes, particularly those competing in morning events, could be at risk.
The Sankei Shimbun newspaper reported on Monday that the government was considering adopting daylight saving time from next year, so that events could be staged in cooler hours.
“I told him (Abe) that daylight savings is necessary not only for the Olympics, but it is also important from an international perspective in order to protect earth’s current environment,” Mori told reporters on Tuesday after the meeting at the Prime Minister’s office.
“I also told him that internationally Japan should be a pioneer and the government should be move forward on this issue.
“And the prime minister responded ‘Indeed.’”
Japanese media reported that Abe had agreed to look into the proposal.
Mori’s comments comes as an opinion poll published by national broadcaster NHK on Tuesday showed 51 percent of respondents were in favour of switching to daylight savings time, with only 12 percent against.
In its report, the Sankei Shimbun, citing several sources, said the government was considering bringing clocks forward by two hours between June and August next year on a trial basis, to iron out any problems with the change, ahead of a similar implementation during the Olympics.
Japan is among a handful of major economies that does not use daylight saving time during the summer, including South Korea – which set clocks back an hour in 1987 and 1988, when it hosted the Summer Olympics in Seoul.
(Reporting by Olivier Fabre; writing by Jack Tarrant; editing by Peter Rutherford)