August 6 - Japanese Olympic organisers would strive to harness the country's technological expertise to solve once and for all the Games' perennial problem with empty seats, the head of Tokyo's 2020 Olympic and Paralympic bid has promised.
Speaking exclusively to insidethegames, Masato Mizuno, the Tokyo 2020 chief executive, hinted that a Tokyo Games might do away with paper tickets altogether.
"We must create some way of not having any empty seats," he said.
"We will work with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
"That will be a legacy for the rest of the Olympic Games: to be all sold out with no empty seats."
Questioned on how this laudable aim might be achieved, Mizuno went on: "Computer systems are getting better.
"Maybe we don't need to print out tickets."
Instead, he indicated, electronic devices, such as people's mobile phones, might be utilised.
"Maybe we can lead the way," he added.
Even though most London 2012 venues – unlike Athens 2004 or Beijing 2008 – have been packed with enthusiastic spectators, organisers have still faced criticism over the relatively small number of empty seats because they create resentment among sports fans who have tried, often repeatedly, and failed to buy tickets.
A system that could genuinely relegate this issue to history would be an undoubted boon for the Olympic Movement.
However, all the indications are that it would be very difficult to achieve.
Tokyo, which last hosted the Games in 1964 when Mizuno was a university student, is up against Istanbul and Madrid in the race for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.
IOC members will decide the winner in Buenos Aires in September 2013.
Mizuno also sought to counter any suggestion that slow-moving traffic might be an issue for the bid, explaining how an ingenious system has gradually brought the number of private vehicles under control.
"When you purchase a car in Japan you must have your own parking-space," he said.
"If you don't, you can't buy a car.
"So eventually the number of cars is limited."
Tag-lined "Discover tomorrow", the Tokyo bid is likely to highlight Japan's organisational flair, technological know-how and financial solidity as it aims to improve on its 2016 result, when it finished third behind winner Rio de Janeiro and Madrid.
"Tokyo 2020 is a safe pair of hands," Mizuno emphasised.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
July 2012: Tokyo 2020 unveil plans for Olympic Stadium that would be "jewel in the crown"
July 2012: Tokyo 2020 bid team unveils "Discover Tomorrow" slogan
June 2012: A Tokyo win "would create more than 150,000 jobs", says new research
June 2012: Tokyo 2020 pledge commitment to sustainability as city feels effect of latest earthquake
May 2012: Tokyo 2020 reveals updated bid logo and new partners as Takeda admits this is "our last chance"