Tokyo 2020 One Year On: A show of hope, solidarity and peace, as world battled fear and disruption

23 Jul 2022
IOC News Legacy Tokyo 2020

As the first postponed Olympic Games, Tokyo 2020 faced unprecedented challenges. But the Games will be remembered for overcoming fear and disruption by promoting hope, solidarity and peace. An event organised today by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) at the National Stadium marked the first anniversary of the Games, paying tribute to all those that made them a success.

IOC / Yuichi Yamazaki IOC / Yuichi Yamazaki

“One year on since the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, we can look back and say with pride: We did it together. We did it for the athletes of the world,” said IOC President Thomas Bach in his video address to those attending the event. “These were historic Olympic Games, and it took an unprecedented historic effort from all of us to make them happen – and to make them happen in a safe way for everyone: the athletes and our gracious hosts, the Japanese people.”

Referencing the shocking assassination of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo earlier this month, President Bach added: “One of the driving forces who made these Games happen was former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, who so tragically lost his life earlier this month. Without his vision and determination, these Olympic Games would never have happened. […] We all owe him all our respect and gratitude, especially today, as we celebrate the one-year mark since the start of these historic Games.”

Memorial video for Japan's former prime minister Shinzo Abe is displayed during the Tokyo 2020 Games One Year Anniversary Ceremony IOC / Yuichi Yamazaki

The power of resilience

Athletes heading to Tokyo were faced not only with herculean training regimes but also pandemic-caused uncertainties and the nearly impossible task of staying in shape amidst the strictest lockdown restrictions.

But with an eye firmly on the future and thanks to the courage and “monumental understanding and cooperation” of everyone involved, Tokyo 2020 pulled off a safe and sustainable sports show filled with moments of solidarity and resilience.

Sifan Hassan 2021 Getty Images

Perhaps the most symbolic of such moments was Sifan Hassan’s final lap in the 1,500 metres heat, which saw her crash to the ground only to get up again, speed past the other runners, and eventually win the race.

And, in a true Olympic spirit of friendship and solidarity, Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi decided to share the gold medal, after each jumped 2.37m in the Olympic high jump final.

Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi 2021 Getty Images

“The athletes expressed their gratitude and responded with outstanding performances,” said President Bach. “They connected with each other in an unparalleled intense way, savouring every moment together after having been separated by the pandemic for so long. In everything they did, they were living our new Olympic motto: Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together. These deeply human moments touched our hearts, giving us the most precious of gifts in our difficult times: hope.”

Connecting with tomorrow

While COVID-19 made it impossible to welcome spectators in the Olympic venues, the Games adapted by making more content available to fans around the world on more screens than ever before. Thanks to an increased TV presence, digital streaming, websites, apps and social media, Tokyo 2020 saw a 74 per cent upsurge in digital unique viewers compared with the Olympic Games Rio 2016, with a 139 per cent increase in the number of video views on digital platforms. This helped make Tokyo 2020 the most watched Olympic Games ever on digital platforms, and highlighted how the changing media landscape made these the first “streaming Games”. New technologies and digital innovation allowed fans around the world to experience the emotion and excitement of the Games remotely.

Pledging to minimise the environmental and climate impact, Tokyo 2020 prioritised the use of existing and temporary venues and implemented a number of CO2 reduction measures, including the use of renewable energy and fuel-efficient vehicles. Ninety-nine percent of non-consumable items were reused or recycled, and 62 per cent of waste was recycled. The medal podiums – themselves manufactured from recycled plastic – have been given to schools across Japan, with certificates explaining how they were made.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Village 2021 Getty Images

A year on, Tokyo’s residents are already benefitting from a more sustainable city. As part of its “Zero Emission Tokyo” strategy, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) aims to introduce 150 hydrogen filling stations and more than 300 zero-emission buses on the capital’s roads by 2030. Pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users are also benefitting, through new bus lanes, cycle paths, bike-sharing, water transport and water-front parks. The hydrogen-powered Olympic Village is now being converted into a complex of flats, a school, shops and other facilities. The complex, including seaside parks and other green spaces, will serve as a showcase for an environmentally-friendly, hi-tech urban lifestyle – “a new and convenient community where a diverse range of people live and interact with ease and comfort”.

 A general view during the Amazing Canoe Slalom Summer Festa IOC / Christopher Jue

Healthy lifestyle

Encouraging healthier lifestyles and sports participation was one of Tokyo 2020’s core aims. One year on, residents are benefitting from re-opened Olympic facilities – six of the eight purpose-built venues are already welcoming the public. The Ariake Urban Sports Park, which will be re-opened at a later stage, will host a special skateboarding experience event for Tokyo residents as part of the one year anniversary celebrations.

IOC

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, more than 5,500 cultural programmes involving 37 million people were held as part of the Cultural Olympiad leading up to the Games, and organisers say that more than half of those are still in place. Ninety-four percent of cultural event sponsors have indicated that they want to continue their support. The Olympic Agora – a cultural hub showcasing visual art installations, exhibitions and digital programmes which opened just ahead of the Games – features permanent, site-specific sculptures.

Tokyo 2020 was another milestone in the IOC’s vision for more sustainable Games that deliver lasting benefits beyond sport. But perhaps even more valuable are the lessons learnt from the unprecedented challenges.

“While the Tokyo 2020 Games took place under challenging conditions, I believe that, through the Games, Japan has helped to reawaken the connections and bonds that bring all of the people around the world together,” said Seiko Hashimoto, Tokyo 2020 President. “I am confident that the untold experiences of these Games will be passed on as our legacy to future generations, and it is my hope that the Tokyo 2020 Games will become an inspiration in stimulating positive changes in society in the future.”

IOC

“The Tokyo 2020 Games shared the courage and excitement with the world,” said Koike Yuriko, Governor of Tokyo. “The successful delivery of the Games, despite unprecedented challenging circumstances, generated an invaluable legacy. We sensed the exciting future awaiting us through advancements towards the realisation of an inclusive society, the roadmap to a sustainable society, and the application of cutting-edge technology. Above all, by sharing the dynamic performances of the athletes, we were able to remind people all over the world of the wonder of sport. Leaving a solid record of such efforts and passing this onto future is our mission as the host city of Tokyo.”

Celebrations of the first anniversary of Tokyo 2020 will culminate on 16 October with a “Thank You” event organised by the IOC at the National Stadium. The event will be a celebration of the Olympic Games, the city and the people of Tokyo. It will include sports and cultural activities for the local community, organised alongside the Tokyo Legacy Half Marathon.

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