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The 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Japan

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Japan Watch Project Analyst By Reni Juwitasari

 

Tokyo becomes the host for the 2020 Summer Olympics from 24 July to 9 August, followed by the Paralympics from 25 August to 6 September, for the second time after the first Olympics host in 1964. For these events, Japan will welcome 300,000 people in total, comprising 11,000 Olympic and 4,400 Paralympic athletes, officials, and staffs from 206 countries who will compete in 33 distinct sports to win three medals.

Hosting the Olympics and Paralympics gives much benefits for Japan. The events encourage rapid infrastructure, largely after triple disasters in Tohoku, namely the earthquake and tsunami in Miyagi Prefecture and nuclear explosion in Fukushima Prefecture in 2011. To prepare, Japan has been renovating 43 stadiums, while others are being rebuilt, especially the 1964’s National Stadium to accommodate large numbers of attendees for both opening and closing ceremonies. The Paralympics has also shown Japan’s efforts to improve attitudes and facilities towards the disabled people; it is especially seen when Japan has widely provided more facilities on braille texts to accommodate the athletes.    

Japanese government, with their effort to make over Tokyo, has rapidly formed the capital city into a ‘global standard city’. Since 1964, Tokyo has been progressing on infrastructure, such as the 100 km freshly laid highways, a new sewage system, new luxury hotels and the 21 km of monorail from the new international airport to downtown. Continuously, Japan adds more foreign-language signs along streets, cashless payment, and smoke-free zone for the Olympics to highlight Japan’s health law to eliminate ashtrays from the public space by imposing a smoking ban at all outlets, even to ban at the most stores selling pornographic magazines by this summer. Tokyo will also integrate the hydrogen energy into economy by spending ¥ 40 billion ($330 million) with a goal to make Japan a “Hydrogen Society”. Since some of the 8.5 million spectators for the Olympics will arrive on jets that can affect adverse benefit for the environment, hence, algae will be burned as fuel to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 70 percent compared to petroleum fuels. The hydrogen power will be utilized in the Olympic Village with at least a hundred fuel cell-powered buses, press lounges and athlete dorms, and hydrogen-cell powered cars will prowl the streets. An audit report in October found that Japan is likely to spend at least $US25 billion or around ¥ 250 trillion nearly four times of the estimated cost.

Japan stressed that Olympics and Paralympics will be “a catalyst for social change”. To accomplish the society 5.0, Japan involves robot technology to assist the people during the event due to a growing shortage of workers and ageing population. As such, East Japan Railway developed a digital sign system combined with artificial intelligence or AI-based female character called AI-Sakura who is able to speak four languages, namely Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean. Moreover, Japan builds the reputation as one of the most automated countries in the world by “robot village” image. It will be swarming with automated assistants to assist athletes and visitors in carrying luggage, checking into hotels and providing transportation information even on specific route. If everything goes according to the plan, Tokyo will become a 5G (fifth generation) “smart city” to experience watching events on high definition screens of 8K (or nearly eight-thousand-pixel) for people who cannot attend directly on the venue.

For Japan, the Olympics have a special place in its history as the 1964 Tokyo Games marked Japan’s re-entry to the international community after the Second World War. Japan had bidden to be the host no less than 12 times of which the bid in 1940 was set to become the first non-western city to host the Games before Japan was finally cancelled due to the war. This 2020 Games, as the prior ones, is acknowledged as the benchmark noting that PM Abe’s grandfather, Mr. Kishi Nobusuke championed Japan’s bid for the 1964 Games. For Japanese Prime Minister, Abe, looks at the 2020 Games as a mark of a significant rebirth of Japan after a long time economic stagnation, which is the same as the 1964 Games showcased the country’s economic and political reemergence from defeat of the Second World War. In fact, GDP growth increased about 1 percent in 2018 (¥ 5 trillion to ¥ 6 trillion) higher than it used to be because of Olympic preparations. Moreover, it can be foreseen that tourism will boost significant income for Japan during the Games. The Games will also contribute to the reform of the National Revitalization Strategy emphasizing on Tokyo vitalization;  it is said that the Games would encourage overseas companies to make investment in Japan as well as boost the world-wide development of Japanese industries.    

As scheduled, Judo, gymnastics and badminton competitions will be held during the first week, meanwhile Athletics, wrestling and the finals of team sports, such as volleyball and soccer will take place on the second week. As it is forecasted that the Olympic Games this year will face an extreme heat, the organizer has arranged the schedule to respond to the situation accordingly. The summer temperatures in July, according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency, will reach a record of 41.1 degrees Celsius. Hence, the 2020 Olympics Tokyo organizer decided to push forward the start time of some outdoor events earlier before beating the heat due to athletes and spectators’ health concern. For instance, the men’s 50-kilometer race walk will be started at 6 a.m., marathon at 7 a.m. and the triathlons at 8 a.m. respectively. So, the Japanese government’s preparation for 2020 Games is very impressive as the President of International Olympic Committee (IOC), Mr. Thomas Bach said in his visit to the offices of Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic organizers on November 28, 2018. “I cannot remember a host city being as well prepared as Tokyo”, he added.

Celebrating the enthusiasm of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, The International Olympic Committee has commissioned Studio Ponoc, a Japanese animation studio to produce the world’s first Olympic-inspired anime to offer, especially children, the values of excellence, respect and friendship, on the other word, it is to get kids excited about the Olympics. Likewise, the purpose of the 2020 Games is not only developing infrastructure, but also promoting the culture. The Tokyo Organizing Committee unveiled details of the Olympic torch that will be used in the event’s ceremonial torch relays whose design is Japan’s traditional flower, the Sakura or cherry blossom with two different colors “Sakura Gold” for Olympic torch and “Sakura Pink” for Paralympic torch. The torch will be made by recycled aluminum from the temporary housing of the Great East Japan Earthquake construction to call the world’s attention to the physical and spiritual recovery of the affected areas.

 

References:

Japan’s 2020 Olympics Mark a Significant Rebirth for the Country. (2019, June 18). Globetrender. Retrieved from:  https://globetrender.com/2019/06/18/peak-japan-2020-olympics/

Reconstruction and Robots: can Tokyo 2020 live up to 1964’s Olympic Legacy?.  (2019, June 11). The Guardian. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/jun/11/robots-and-reconstruction-can-tokyo-2020-top-1964s-olympic-legacy

Preparations for 2020 Tokyo Olympics transforming capital city into ‘global standard’ city. (2019. April 15). The Japan Times. Retrieved from: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/04/15/national/preparations-tokyo-games-transforming-capital-global-standard-city/#.XRCvL-gzbIU

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch ‘Something that was Never Made Before. (2019, April 1). Japan Forward. Retrieved from:  https://japan-forward.com/tokyo-2020-olympic-torch-something-that-was-never-made-before/

Olympics-Bach heaps praise on ‘well prepared’ Tokyo for 2020 Games. (2018, November 28). Reuters. Retrieved from: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-olympics-2020-bach-visit/olympics-bach-heaps-praise-on-well-prepared-tokyo-for-2020-games-idUSKCN1NX0PE

Japanese studio to produce anime short for 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (2019, June 11). Kyodo News. Retrieved from: https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2019/06/419716093607-japanese-studio-to-produce-anime-short-for-tokyo-olympics.html

How Tokyo is transforming for the 2020 Summer Olympics. (2018, November 29). Finance Review. Retrieved from: https://www.afr.com/afr-magazine/how-tokyo-is-transforming-for-the-summer-olympics-2020-20181015-h16mx8

How Prepared is Tokyo Two Years from the Olympics? (2018, July 23). NHK World-Japan. Retrieved from:  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/196/

Tokyo prepares to host Olympic Games. (2019, June 16). Egypt Independent. Retrieved from: https://egyptindependent.com/tokyo-prepares-to-host-2020-olympic-games/

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