As is traditional, after the Olympic flag was passed from Rio de Janeiro to Tokyo, the host of the next edition of the Games was given an opportunity to provide a glimpse of what athletes and spectators can expect when the Games of the XXXII Olympiad get underway in the Japanese capital. The presentation began with a fast-paced sporting and cultural video tour of the host city, with an appearance by Prime Minister Abe, who was said to be running late on his trip to Rio de Janeiro for the Closing Ceremony.
With the help of some video trickery, the Japanese leader morphed into the popular video game character, Super Mario, before jumping into deep tunnel. Seconds later, he popped up in his Super Mario costume at the other end of the “tunnel” in the middle of the Maracana, prompting gasps from the crowd. In addition to delighting the audience, Prime Minister Abe’s surprise appearance underlined just how deep Japan’s commitment is to hosting the Games. As with the rest of the futuristic preview, it also hinted at the innovation, originality and creativity that we can expect from Tokyo 2020.
Japan and its capital have long been associated with technological innovation and forward-thinking, in keeping with the official slogan of Tokyo 2020, “Discover Tomorrow.”
The sporting programme for Tokyo 2020 certainly has an innovative feel about it. A global audience will have an opportunity to watch a record 33 sports, including five new additions: baseball/softball, karate, sport climbing, skateboarding and surfing. The well-balanced combination of new sports puts on emphasis on youth and will add an urban feel to the Games.
Japan knows from first-hand experience the power of sport and of the Olympic Games in particular to act as a catalyst for positive change. The 1964 Tokyo Games had a transformational effect not just on the capital city but the country at large. Now the organisers of the 2020 Games are promising to make them “the most innovative in history” under three core pillars — excellence (“Striving for One’s Personal Best”), diversity (“Unity in Diversity”) and legacy (“Connecting to Tomorrow”).
If the preview is any guide, Tokyo 2020 will be ready to deliver on that commitment.