Just over one hundred days remain until the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, which are planned to be a celebration of humanity, courage and resilience. Delayed by COVID-19, Tokyo 2020 will bring together athletes from all over the world, helping to reunite a scarred world.
The organisers have had to make major adjustments to host the Games in a way that protects everybody’s health. But some things will not change: as planned from the outset, Tokyo 2020 aims to use its reach and visibility to highlight solutions to help create a more sustainable world. A broad-based coalition of partners, including Japan’s National Olympic Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG), the Government of Japan, related local governments, sponsors and other delivery partners are united by the slogan: “Be better, together — For the planet and the people.”
“At the heart of Olympism is the idea that sport can help us build a better world,” said the IOC's Tokyo 2020 Coordination Commission Chair, John Coates. “In just over three months, the eyes of the world will be set on Tokyo 2020. While our number-one priority is to organise safe Olympic and Paralympic Games for everyone, this is also an opportunity to raise global awareness about the need to live more sustainably and show that tools and solutions to achieve this exist.”
Many of Tokyo’s solutions relate to the development of a green, circular economy. The Tokyo 2020 medals have been made from raw materials that were “harvested” from donated consumer electronics such as mobile phones. Thanks to Worldwide Olympic Partner P&G, medal podiums were manufactured from recycled plastic. The total plastic waste collected was equivalent to around 400,000 bottles of detergent. And the Olympic Village Plaza has been built using timber from local governments that will be returned after the Games for community use.
Tokyo 2020 plans to reuse or recycle 65 per cent of its waste generated during the Games and reduce the amount of single-use plastics. Ninety-nine per cent of the goods procured for the Games will be reused or recycled.
In line with Japan’s carbon reduction goals, Tokyo 2020 will showcase zero-carbon technologies at the Games and limit its own carbon emissions. The venues will use renewable electricity that comes from biomass and solar power. Worldwide Olympic Partner Toyota will provide a wide range of zero-emission vehicles, including fuel cell hydrogen electric vehicles for the Olympic and Paralympic fleet. Clean hydrogen – which is widely hailed as a promising decarbonising solution – will be used to power the Relay torches and cauldrons. A carbon offset scheme will compensate the remaining emissions, in line with Tokyo 2020’s commitment to host carbon-neutral Games.
Optimising sports facilities
To cut costs and reduce emissions by minimising construction, some 58 per cent of the facilities used at Tokyo 2020 will be existing or temporary. Five of the existing Tokyo 2020 sites were used at Tokyo 1964 too, highlighting the enduring legacy of Japan’s first Olympic Games: the Yoyogi National Stadium, Equestrian Park, Nippon Budokan, Enoshima Yacht Harbour and Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
Worldwide Olympic Partner Bridgestone is providing advanced earthquake protection technology to the Tokyo Aquatics Centre and Ariake Arena, in the form of multi-rubber bearing seismic isolators. After the Games, the Bridgestone seismic isolation bearings will continue to protect the venues, as they host domestic and international events, and act as cultural and recreational areas for the local public.
To catalyse positive change, Tokyo 2020 has already received close to 100 million participations in some 150,000 initiatives across the country. Locals have donated their used electronic devices and plastic wate to be recycled into Olympic medals and podiums. In an effort to empower Japanese young people, children at elementary schools were asked to select the mascot designs for Tokyo 2020. The Games organisers are inspiring Japan’s people to live healthier and more active lifestyles. Programmes that discover and nurture young sporting talent have been set up.
Across the country, the Tokyo 2020 School Sports Day Project provides opportunities for students to learn various ways of participating in sports, as well as the significance of the Olympic and Paralympic values. The “Let’s 55 (Go-Go)” programme encourages the public to try some of the 55 Olympic and Paralympic sports.
At the Games themselves, Tokyo 2020 will provide an enhanced environment for all people, regardless of whether or not they have impairments, including through the production of Tokyo 2020 Accessibility Guidelines. The eight new permanent sports venues built for the Games will include accessibility features such as ramps and accessible seating. And barrier-free standards have been revised so that hotels can be more accessible to people with impairments, including the elderly.
Promoting culture and innovation
Tokyo is taking advantage of its visibility as the host city of the Olympic Games to showcase the country’s innovations and promote Japanese culture. Innovations will include driverless cars, facial recognition and robots – developed by Worldwide Olympic Partners Toyota and Panasonic – to assist with translation and luggage at airports
Worldwide Olympic Partner Alibaba has worked with Narita Airport to showcase young Japanese artists in the “Alibaba Cloud Gallery”, a series of large digital screens along nine walkways in the airport. The Tokyo 2020 NIPPON Festival, which runs from April to September 2021, will also showcase Japanese culture inside and outside Japan through a variety of cultural activities and programmes. TMG’s Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL, a series of cultural events, also starts in April 2021 and runs for six months.