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Tokyo 2020: U-turn as hotels agree to wheelchair rooms for Paralympics

Promise by Japan that rooms will stay accessible as Paralympics legacy follows Guardian revelation that hotels wanted payment for conversions

The Japanese government has promised that all hotel rooms that are converted to make them accessible for wheelchair visitors to the 2020 Paralympics will now remain accessible as a legacy of the Games.

The pledge comes after the Guardian revealed in April that British Paralympic officials were stunned when hotels near their training camp in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, demanded they pay to make rooms accessible – and then pay again to convert them back afterwards.

One senior figure said the problem had been a “huge headache” for more than 18 months until the authorities in Yokohama, part of the Greater Tokyo metro area, finally agreed to help. What made the issue harder to solve is that it was beyond the remit of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee or government. Rather, it was down to individual hotels – many of which did not see the social or economic benefits of providing more accessible rooms.

However, the Japanese government insists the issue is now “obsolete”. Jun Mitarai, part of the cabinet secretariat that co-ordinates Olympics planning, said: “After the refurbishments, the hotel rooms will not go back to the original state. That is an agreement between the Yokohama city and the hotels. The rooms will be left as a legacy.”

Mitarai said the government was also addressing concerns from the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) about the lack of accessible rooms in Tokyo by introducing new legislation to ensure all new hotels cater more for people with disabilities, with at least 1% of rooms accessible if the building has more than 50 rooms.

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