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Tokyo Olympics to use facial recognition system

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TOKYO (AP) — A facial recognition system will be used across an Olympics for the first time as Tokyo organizers work to keep security tight and efficient at dozens of venues during the 2020 Games.

The NeoFace technology developed by NEC Corp. will be customized to monitor every accredited person — including athletes, officials, staff and media — at more than 40 venues, games villages and media centers, Olympic and company officials said Tuesday.

Local organizers said Tokyo will be the first Olympic host to introduce the face recognition technology at all venues. The system is expected to effectively eliminate entry with forged IDs, reduce congestion at accredited waiting lines and reduce athletes’ stress under hot weather.

Tsuyoshi Iwashita, Tokyo 2020 executive director of security, said venues that are spread within and outside of the capital would be a big burden in achieving high levels of security.

“By introducing the face recognition system, we hope to achieve high levels of safety, efficiency and smooth operation at security check points before entry,” he said, adding that the system would contribute to less stressful environment for athletes.

Iwashita said a test last year showed gate checks using the facial recognition was more than twice the pace of the conventional system using X-ray with visual siting by security guards.

The facial images of every accredited person for the Olympics and Paralympics will be collected after the approval process and stored in a database to be used to verify identities at accreditation check points.

NEC says its biometric identification technology is used at airports and elsewhere in 70 countries, including Japan.

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Tokyo 2020 Olympic triathlon to start early to beat the heat

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TOKYO (AP) — Triathlon events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be staged on the large man-made island of Odaiba in Tokyo Bay and will start early in the morning to counter the heat that is expected in the Japanese capital.

Tokyo Games organizers and the International Triathlon Union on Thursday revealed plans for the individual triathlons, mixed relay, and para-triathlons.

As with the marathon, the potential for scorching summer conditions factored into the plans. The triathlons will start at 8 a.m. instead of 10 a.m. as originally planned.

Japan is in the midst of a deadly heatwave, with temperatures topping 40 degrees Celsius (104 F). The heat has been blamed for 116 deaths.

The 1964 Games in Tokyo were held in October to avoid the harshest of the heat. That was before the Olympics schedule was influenced by rights-paying broadcasters and sponsors.

The heat isn’t the only concern.

Last year, E.coli concentrations were found to be 21 times above the accepted limit in the Odaiba area.

Fecal coliform bacteria were also detected.

Officials have blamed much of the problem on heavy rains last year, a surprise sanitation problem in a country known for cleanliness. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has installed underwater screens in Odaiba and will study how they could prevent pollution from entering the competition area.

With the Rainbow Bridge and the Tokyo skyline as a backdrop, organizers say the triathlon venue will provide a dynamic urban atmosphere unlike previous Olympics.

“The location is perfect and it is incredibly exciting to be right in the heart of Tokyo at Odaiba Bay,” said Marisol Casado, president of the International Triathlon Union.

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Japan discusses time change at Tokyo Olympics for extreme heat

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Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said turning the clocks forward one or two hours during the Olympics “may be one solution” to combat potential heat-wave temperatures in two years, according to Japanese reports.

Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, said he and Abe discussed the possibility Friday, according to Kyodo News.

“We were working under the premise that temperatures wouldn’t exceed 40 degrees [Celsius, or 104 Fahrenheit],” organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto said, according to Kyodo. “We’ve now recognized how serious this is.”

A deadly heatwave that recently gripped Japan focused organizers on ways to keep fans and athletes cool when the Olympics begin on July 24, 2020.

Potential for scorching summer conditions has always concerned organizers, with temperatures in central Tokyo often exceeding 95 degrees in July and August, made more difficult because of high humidity.

This summer heatwave has resulted in more than 65 deaths and sent tens of thousands to hospitals. The temperature on Monday reached 106, the highest ever recorded in Japan.

Experts have warned the risk of heatstroke in Tokyo has escalated in recent years, while noting the Olympics are expected to take place in conditions when sports activities should normally be halted.

“We are mindful that we do have to prepare for extreme heat,” John Coates, head of the IOC’s coordination commission for the Tokyo Games, told a recent news conference.

Local organizers are doing what they can to help athletes combat the conditions. The marathon and some other outside events will be held early in the morning to avoid extreme heat.

The federal and the Tokyo metropolitan governments are also planning to lay pavements that emit less surface heat and plant taller roadside trees for shade.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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