Everyone knows something and no one knows anything

Friday July 24, 2020, 20:00 - 23:00 (JST), Japan National Stadium, Tōkyō, Japan. Opening Ceremony, the Games of the XXXII Olympiad. Athletes, organisers, media… Tens of thousands of spectators. Hundreds of millions of television viewers; Tōkyō in the spotlight. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Announcement of a postponement. Less than a week later, the release of new dates, and the reset of the countdown clocks

Ever since, a bizarre confrontation. A mute dialogue between a city and an event. Question marks and curious situations. Daily reminders, ubiquitous in Tōkyō and all over Japan. Sometimes an almost ashamed lowering of the head when glances meet in front of an Olympic or Paralympic advertisement. Changing opinions, annotation and debates. Conversations, inspiration, creation, then again suspension and pondering silence. People who think to know, people who wish to know and those who may know acknowledge that they don’t know. 

When beginning to study the impact of the Olympic and Paralympic Games on host city Tōkyō, I rapidly realised how vast the phenomenon is and how many individuals are somehow concerned by it. Relatively soon, I also became conscious about the mega-event’s opacity and complexity, and it often recalls me the picture of a Rubik’s Cube. Hindsight, that it may be unattainable to catch up on all the specialised knowledge which has been acquired over years and decades.  

For the time that preparations were going on more or less as foreseen (with several incidents that I would qualify as relatively recurrent in the run-up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games), and notably since the One Year To Go, I could feel the rhythm accelerate and see the scale gradually grow. Tōkyō 2020 was following the general tendency of the modern Olympic Games by expanding in every way: include more sports, aim for more spectators, welcome more athletes who compete for higher records. Citius, Altius, Fortius. As the Games of prior Olympiads, those of Tōkyō 2020 may allegedly be the greatest ever

In the resumption of the Olympic Games of Antiquity in the modern form, founder Pierre de Coubertin saw the possibility for humanity to benefit from the fruits of various cultures while waiting to be united in a world civilisation. He believed that sports were a way to join national pride with international understanding and considered that the Games could help to strengthen peace. In order to highlight that accepting and respecting differences in race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, level of ability or other status allows peace to be maintained and society to continue to develop and flourish, one of the three core concepts of Tōkyō 2020 is Unity in Diversity

During times that countries around the globe close their boarders and people are requested to refrain from gathering together, it however seems that quite much goes against these ideals. Japan aimed to attract 40 million visitors in the Olympic year, yet since April, the number of foreign travelers has consecutively fallen below 3,000 per month, which signifies a drop of about 99,9% compared to the same period in 2019. Entry bans were established, for tourists as well as for long-term residents, and when I started to (more frequently than habitually) identify myself as one of few foreigners, I recognised the restrictions’ repercussion.  

For rather long, I was convinced that the Tōkyō Games would be held as foreseen, with their beginning in summer 2020. After all, I esteemed that I had some modest knowledge of the event’s past and was conscious about the significance of a postponement or a cancellation, - logistically, politically, economically, symbolically…. After all, Tōkyō has been preparing for seven years, and if one adds the bidding period, even much longer. How should within merely several months everything suddenly be questioned ? As huge it seemed, as fragile it turned out to be. In history, there were several scandals around the Games, threats, boycotts and withdrawn bids. However, only three, respectively five Olympiads have been cancelled: one in 1916 because of World War I, and as the summer and winter event was held the same year from 1924 to 1992, two in 1940 and two in 1944, due to World War II. Although I could hardly imagine that Tōkyō 2020 would not go on as scheduled, at the time officials from several countries started to use forceful vocabulary and draw analogies, I slowly realised towards what we may be headed.

When last autumn I left for my mission which should have allowed me to accompany close-by host city Tōkyō from roughly one year before, until a month after the Paralympic event, I had vague ideas what all may happen until, and especially during summer 2020. I expected to observe the city and country getting progressively prepared, to feel energies accumulate and experience attention grow. I imagined to see people from all over the world gradually arrive. With some form of proudness, I was looking forward to welcoming dear international (research) acquaintances, most of whom I got to know thanks to Tōkyō. With some form of fear, I pictured myself in the middle of nowhere or take a back seat, elsewhere. With some form of naivety, I genuinely hoped to attend the Opening Ceremony of the Tōkyō 2020 Games at the Japan National Stadium.

To my interest, my pleasure as well as my honour, and deeply grateful to the persons who have been supporting me, I could progressively participate at event-related activities and live myself the inauguration of Olympic and Paralympic sites. Almost ironically, it was only about one month after the last New Permanent Venue was accomplished and the Tōkyō 2020 flags were hoisted, that the postponement was announced. 

Since the beginning, not only of my mission but also broadly of my project, I have been going through various scenarii though, one specific had for a long time simply not crossed my mind… The one of Tōkyō 2020 not taking place in 2020. 


Places called home & Letters for someone


Tōkyō, Japan,  2020 © Louise Claire Wagner

Tōkyō, Japan,  2020 © Louise Claire Wagner

Tōkyō, Japan,  2020 © Louise Claire Wagner

Tōkyō, Japan,  2020 © Louise Claire Wagner



Tōkyō, Japan,  2020 © Louise Claire Wagner

Tōkyō, Japan,  2020 © Louise Claire Wagner

Tōkyō, Japan,  2020 © Louise Claire Wagner



Tōkyō, Japan,  2020 © Louise Claire Wagner

Tōkyō, Japan,  2020 © Louise Claire Wagner


From Island to Island

Anything and other than expected

To some parts of Sadogashima

When years ago, I took notice of Sadogashima’s existence, I was instantly intrigued by the idea to visit there one day on my own. Though, I could not really tell why. For sure, pictures of the landscapes and the curiosity to discover the local culture played a part, howbeit Japan counts numerous astonishing places, and ultimately, I have to admit that it was above all the idea to break away which allured me as much. Indeed, I associated physical and mental distance with Sadogashima; disconnection, not with Japan, but somehow with the world. Before undertaking my journey, I had only briefly read some background information and not made any particular travel plan, as I wished to leave freedom to my own perception. However, and despite the aim to head out without any expectations, I quickly got confronted with fact that I had unconsciously and unwillingly pictured this place as well as my stay. 

Seemingly small, Sadogashima, located off Niigata, is the largest island in the Sea of Japan. Its area is approximately 855 square kilometres and its coastline stretches around 280 kilometres. The population was at about 56,000 in the end of March 2018. Although I knew about this, I still couldn’t get rid of the idea that Sadogashima had to be compact and it was only through several walking and bicycle tours, which’s distances together with the (hilly) relief put my physical capacities to the proof, that I finally started to agnise the island’s vastness. 

Excavations from ruins indicate that Sadogashima has been inhabited for about 10,000 years. It was one of Japan’s independent provinces in the Nara Period, and early designated an island of exile. Beginning in AD 722 with Hozumi Asomioyu, further exiles included figures such as the former Emperor Juntoku in 1221, the Buddhist monk Nichiren in 1271, and Zeami Motokiyo in 1434, a Noh actor and writer, all of whom expressed critical opinions about the respective then-ruler. Today, many people ascribe the miscellaneous population and the cultural richness of the island to the prior exiles. Sadogashima is also known for its gold production, and back in the days, it was notably the shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu who promoted the development of gold and silver mines by placing them under the direct control of the Tokugawa Shōgunate. The prosperity attracted diverse workers and resulted in a rapid rise of the island’s population, which reached a peak of 125,597 in 1950. The mines were operated from 1601 until 1974 and definitely closed in 1989. With a remarkably rich, diverse and well-preserved environment, Sadogashima was the last natural habitat of the internationally protected wild Japanese Crested Ibis (Toki) which became endangered and went extinct in 2003. However, artificial insemination started in 1999 and after 2000, baby birds were raised with increasing success and released back into nature. Today, the main industries on the island are agriculture and fishing, and although for me everywhere on the archipelago fish and seafood has so far been delicious, the incredible freshness and quality of Sadogashima’s catch (combined with a glass of local sake) was so tasty that I had to enjoy it for every single dinner.

When some weeks ago, I boarded the ferry that brings one within two and a half hours from Niigata Terminal to Sadogashima Ryōtsu Port, I immediately was captivated by the particular atmosphere and intrigued by some other passengers. There were few people; a group carrying music instruments, some families, a young couple with camping equipment; a couple with numerous stuffed manga characters (that got carefully installed along one of the ferry’s windows), as well as several dispatched individuals whose actions did occur rather incomprehensible to me… But this was only the beginning of my reflection upon the island’s curious population.

The accommodation I stayed at disposed a very small number of rooms, some shared facilities including a charming and neat salon and kitchen, and (just as I had pictured !) a large terrace with ocean view. There I was, the sea in front of my eyes, fairly disconnected, and incredibly happy. 

At my arrival, most of the other rooms were occupied by a Japanese three-generation family who enjoyed dinner at the first floor-situated gourmet restaurant. Besides some words and friendly gestures, we did not further communicate though. 

The following day, after returning from a long trip to the very south of the island, I met two young women who had planned to eat downstairs the accommodation and stay overnight. When they told me that they both lived on Sadogashima, and one of them only few minutes away from the accommodation, I was rather surprised and wondered why they would book a room although they could practically walk home. Anyway, I didn’t want to be unpolite or intrusive and therefore just imagined possible reasons. As they proposed, I joined them later for some delicious fish, seafood and sake at a nearby izakaya. We shared very pleasant moments, and I ended up being kindly invited to have lunch with them the next day. 

No sooner said than done, we were headed to a local restaurant. When in the end of the lunch, one of the staff pulled down her mask, smiled, and asked me if I remembered her, I was rather perplex: it was the middle-generation mother who stayed at the same accommodation as me two nights before. The girls explained that her family owned the restaurant we had lunch at and that she lived nearby. 

The same evening, I crossed paths with three older women, who were calmly sharing some citrus fruits in the common living room. Although already tired, I could not decline their invitation to join for a little talk. When they told me that they just finished dinner at the restaurant downstairs, that they would stay for a night at the accommodation, yet that they all lived on the island, I started to really wonder about Sadogashima’s curious inhabitants, their tendency to eat out during the week and their way to treat themselves by combining gastronomic pleasure with an overnight stay. 

The last day before heading back to Tōkyō, I had a pleasant conversation with the proprietor of the accommodation, who generously gave me a voucher for a future stay. When I told him about my amazing yet peculiar experience with all the locals, he mentioned that this may not happen a next time and finally unveiled the secret: because of COVID-19, Sadogashima had launched a campaign upon its inhabitants, in order to stimulate the tourist industry and local economy. 

As mysterious it seemed, as simple it was. I had to smile. About the situation and about myself. About how we imagine things if we don’t know and don’t ask. About the curiosity of life, and the beauty of the unpredictable… Had I maybe imagined myself alone on a deserted island or amidst some stranded tourists, but hardly surrounded by these nice new acquaintances. 

I would be lying if I said that it was love at first sight, and Sadogashima probably counts amongst the places which require not only time but also an open mindset in order to be enjoyed. Nevertheless, its particular atmosphere, the pureness of nature and honesty of people caught me, and it was with a nostalgic feeling that I left the island behind. When on the way back I found myself all alone on the large deck of the ferry towards Niigata, I had surprising sensations, feelings of energy and enthusiasm, and finally understood why I had been intrigued by Sadogashima for so long. Very differently than expected, it seemed that I precisely found what I had hoped for.


Addendum

Certainly, there are many more aspects of the island that I could and should discover, but this shall remain for the future. Now I know some locals I sincerely wish to meet one day again, and not to forget, I still have my voucher.

{Quarter past four, twilight clouds penetrate the lace fabric}


Reportage Chocolat!

Urbanisme olympique /  interview in French about urban transformation in the context of the Olympic and Paralympic Games 

https://vimeo.com/417963049/00c7595feb


Merci à Chocolat! de m’avoir accordée une place au sein de l’émission de ce mois-ci !                                                                         Thank you Chocolat! for letting me be part of this month’s programme !

https://fr-chocolat.com/podcast/2020-2/item/1747-2020-juillethttps://fr-chocolat.com/


From Island to Island

Anything and other than expected


Rise


Inside a Pond {1, 2, 3 & Hiatus}


On the Edge {1, 2, 3 & Hiatus}


Upon the Sea of Japan {1, 2, 3 & Hiatus}


Along Rice Fields {1, 2, 3 & Hiatus}


Turn Back {1, 2, 3 & Leave behind}


Succession_Big World outside {like your last day under the sun}

                                                                                                                                                                                             | Japan | June 2020 |


{Caption, June 2020}


When I close my eyes, I can feel the light.  

I can hear the sounds, gently fading. 

Softly falling, then entrusting. 

Whiteness behind. The sky, beyond.

What remains, is peaceful silence.


Unravel the Enigma

Frozen. Personal word about the thawing process

Tōkyō, Monday June 8, 2020, 4:24 a.m. Sunrise and birdsong. A smooth breeze. Light, softly entering the room. Awakening in my cherished Paradise.

Early morning hours during summer season have inspired me since the first time I visited Japan. The forthright sunshine, the glow in the air. The relatively decent temperatures prior to an intensely hot and humid day. The peaceful atmosphere when Tōkyō Metropolis slowly gets up. Like a child that impatiently awaits Christmas, I removed my curtains a while ago, enthusiastic to daily experience the sunrise. The plan was to smoothly be woken up by the natural light, whilst slumberously continue to vague in my dreams. However, my thoughts and preoccupations soon inhibited this idyllic picture.

Unpredictability does in general not make me feel particularly uncomfortable (in some curious way, Japan’s frequent earthquakes are for me an honest reminder that many phenomena are out of human control) and putting to sea without knowing the destination makes me rather inspired than worried. Nevertheless, just as assumingly for every individual, there is ebb and flow. There can be storms and waves, doubts and hesitations, and I can not deny that the postponement of the Tōkyō 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games eventually made the boat sway. Since the announcement in the end of last March, I occasionally feel like one of the Tōkyō 2020 flags or posters that hang around the city. Then again, like one of the lonesome festival tents at the Ariake Urban Sports Park. Remaining here, calmly awaiting. For all the involved, the common mission and aimed peak in summer has been removed from this year’s agenda, and one’s tolerance of ambiguity seems to constantly be put to the proof. Contradictory to the rapidly increasing temperatures, it felt as if in spring everything was suddenly frozen.

When these days I observe myself continuing my work or sharing my writings, I unwittingly recall the situation of the (in one of my recent reports described) customer who purchased articles at the Tōkyō 2020 fan shop inside BicCamera Akasaka-Mitsuke. Opposing our two pictures makes me smile about myself and think has she not realised yet that the Olympics are postponed, is she stubbornly holding on a research plan that assuredly has to be modified, or is she expecting a wonder to happen ?

At the time that the postponement of Tōkyō 2020 was announced, the question whether or not, and in which form I may continue my reports did naturally occur. Rather than about the topics, I was though mainly concerned if the audience may lose interest in their reading, e’en find them intrusive or incongruous. I was conscious that general interest in the Games as well as in my work may decrease in the aftermath of the decision, and the fact that indeed only few days after the announcement of the postponement an editor working for a foreign journal asked to be withdrawn from my mailing list was not very reassuring. Notwithstanding, Tōkyō and its facilities remain ready and organisers continue their work. From the beginning, my main motivation and intention for these reports was to share my modest knowledge, my experience and perception of Tōkyō and Japan with those who may appreciate and, most importantly, enjoy them. Therefore, I decided to continue this activity, albeit I have to accept that it goes along with inner questions and possible adaptions. The past months involved long reflection and talks with various people in Japan, as well as around the world, all of which turned out to be very constructive. 

Last Monday at the awake of the day, I was once again caught up with thoughts and concerns. When I realised that I would not get any further sleep, I pulled myself together and left to the Japan National Stadium, where slightly delusional, I ended up running five rounds. Then, by curiosity, I walked one, measured and calculated the covered distance. 

With an average time of seven to eight minutes per round, (probably to the disappointment of some appreciated researcher colleagues), one thing seems certain: even if I continue my runs around the stadium, I will definitely not be accepted in any athletics team for Tōkyō 2020.


Tomorrow’s Past. A Travel in Time

Some months ago, I was introduced to 8X10 format photography and got proposed to join a darkroom in Tōkyō.

After all these years, I had almost forgotten about the smell of the chemicals, the feeling of being in a comfortable and very particular kind of shelter, where I lose track of time, and seem far away from what is happening in the world. 

The fascination of seeing an image, slowly appear…

I missed it.

From the sessions in my hometown to the ones in Japan; the smell has not changed, neither have the related feelings. 

This week, I wish to share some cyanotypes made following an 8X10 shooting along Tōkyō’s waterfront area. 

Without the received support, long ago as well as today, my artistic expression would surely not be the same. My sincere gratitude goes to the persons who hopefully recognise themselves in these lines.


Turn back to the past, face the future: Kōtō-ku and the development of the coastal area

Cadenza

Located at 7, 1-Chōme in Kōtō-ku’s Ariake district, the Ariake Urban Sports Park is one of the Tōkyō 2020 temporary venues. During the Games, it shall host the Skateboarding as well as the Cycling BMX Freestyle and the Cycling BMX Racing competitions. The venue counts three stands, with seating capacities of 7,000 (Skateboarding), 6,600 (BMX Freestyle) and 5,000 (BMX Racing). Whereas BMX Racing is on the Olympic Programme since Beijing 2008, Skateboarding and BMX Freestyle will make their debut at Tōkyō 2020. The three have been provisionally approved for Paris 2024, though it was declared that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will make a final decision in December 2020 (/ some time after the initially expected closure of the Tōkyō Games).

Along with Baseball/Softball, Karate, Surfing and Sport Climbing, Skateboarding got in September 2015 on the shortlist of sports to potentially be included at Tōkyō 2020. In June 2016, the Executive Board of the IOC announced that it would support the proposal to add the shortlisted sports and finally, on August 3, 2016, all of them (including BMX Freestyle joint to BMX Racing) were approved for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Programme. Skateboarding is divided into two disciplines, street and park, with both men’s and women’s competitions. BMX Freestyle, carried out in the park discipline, counts with presumably nine men and nine women riders (one of them being from host nation Japan) amongst Tōkyō 2020’s smallest competitions in terms of participating athletes. 

The Ariake Urban Sports Park is part of the Tōkyō 2020 named Tōkyō Waterfront City area, which shall during the Olympics offer a festive environment to a wide range of people. Tōkyō Waterfront City comprises seven Games venues, the Olympic Promenade where will be installed the cauldron, and two areas where Tōkyō 2020 partners can showcase their products and services. A Tōkyō 2020 megastore selling Tōkyō 2020 Official Licensed Products will also be located in the area. 

With the aim to go beyond the viewing of competitions and to involve spectators more actively at the same spot as the athletes, an Urban Festival shall take place at the Ariake Urban Sports Park and the close-by Ariake Gymnastics Centre, where gymnastics events (Olympics) and boccia competitions (Paralympics) will take place. Through this festival, visitors will get to experience urban sports and watch exhibition performances. Furthermore, adjacent to the Bay Zone Aomi Urban Sports Park, the so-called Playground will propose outdoor warm-up areas where individuals also without tickets can watch 3x3 Basketball players and Sport Climbing athletes getting ready and try themselves in climbing and other sports.

Under the label READY STEADYKYŌ, several test events were conducted since last year, including BMX Racing at Ariake Urban Sports Park. The originally scheduled date had been changed to Friday, October 11, due to typhoon Hagibis that hit the archipelago on October 12, 2019. 

This week, I went on a bicycle tour around some of the Tōkyō 2020 Bay Zone Venues, amongst others Ariake Urban Sports Park, which I had visited for the last time in the end of February. To my surprise, besides the prior accomplished tracks for the competitions, the three stands, as well as some containers and white festival tents had in the meantime been erected. When stopping at the fence in front of the ready, but empty venue, and old Sir in uniform approached. When I asked him about its progression and maintain, he disappeared and came back with a map of Tōkyō Waterfront City. He explained that these days there were not many people around, and said (in Japanese) well, we will see what happens with the Olympics. He didn’t seem particularly troubled by the postponement of the Games or concerned whether or not they would finally be held, but rather feeling responsible to pursue his mission and survey the area. When I thanked him and left, he waved at me, and returned to his position.

Somehow equanimous, serenely awaiting… It felt like the calm before the storm, which’s landfall may remain uncertain. 

{An extensive anthropological study about skateboarding and skateboarders in Tōkyō can be read (in French) in Julien Glauser’s very informative and captivating Tokyo-skate. Les paysages urbains du skateboard about which I wrote a recension that was published in Lectures anthropologiques about a year ago : http://lecturesanthropologiques.fr/lodel/lecturesanthropologiques/index.php?id=619}


Beginnings and Endings

Apart and beyond the in-between

In only just two months, on Friday, July 24, 2020 from 20:00 – 23:00 Japan Standard Time (JST) the Opening Ceremony of the Games of the XXXII Olympiad was supposed to take place at the Japan National Stadium. A long-term foreseen date and aspired moment since Tōkyō’s election on September 7, 2013. 

The Olympic and Paralympic Games’ Opening and Closing Ceremonies, often inspired by the different characteristics of host cities and countries, which in turn are showcased to the world audience through performances, have nowadays become the centrepiece of the event. As the International Olympic Committee (IOC) expresses, they are an invitation to discover the culture of the country that welcomes the competition.

Although the modern Olympic Games were for the first time held in 1896, it was after the Fourth Olympic Congress in Paris in 1906 that the Olympic Games’ Opening and Closing Ceremonies were initiated. The founder of the modern Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin, considered not only athletes, but also philosophers, scholars, poets, musicians and sculptors as figures of Olympism. Furthermore, he explained that the Opening and Closing Ceremonies as well as art competitions, which started to be practiced through aesthetics, were inspired by the ancient Olympic Games. Indeed, aesthetics played an important role in the lives of the ancient Greeks. Through the Olympic Games, which included music, dance and art, they were expressed and projected as a form of ritual in the relationship between humans and Gods. Whereas art was part of an unofficial, on-going accompaniment to the Games, singing and dancing were practiced notably during the night of the conclusion of the competition, though it was not considered a proper Closing Ceremony. As a matter of fact, only the victory ceremonies are indicated in historical records and no clear evidence of official Opening and Closing Ceremonies has been found. 

At Tōkyō 1964, dance was first intentionally staged at the Olympic Ceremonies, making a link between the ancient and the modern Games. Japan attempted to reflect an authentic atmosphere, and seized the opportunity to raise the profile of the nation. It was notably Tōkyō 1964 that transformed the Opening and Closing Ceremonies into a communication tool, emphasising a new vision of the Games to the world. 

Today, Rule 55 of the Olympic Charter outlines a protocol that must be respected at the Opening Ceremony of the Games, including features such as 1. Entry and welcome 2. Playing the national anthem 3. The parade of the athletes 4. Official Speeches 5. Olympic Laurel 6. The symbolic release of doves (associated with peace, from 1936 to 1988, the release of doves used to take place before the arrival of the Olympic flame. However, following an unfortunate demise of several birds that perched on the Olympic cauldron at the Opening Ceremony of the 1988 Games in Seoul, the use of real birds has been replaced by symbolic figures) 7. The opening of the Games 8. Raising the Olympic flag and playing the Olympic anthem 9. The taking of the Olympic oath by an athlete 10. The Olympic flame and Torch Relay 11. The artistic programme.

As part of the preparations, the Tōkyō Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG) established a Basic Policy to deliver ceremonies that the audience would appreciate, whilst at the same time showing the appeal of Japan and Tōkyō to the world. The policy contains three sections: Section 1 - Positioning of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tōkyō 2020, including historical and social significance and the Games vision, Section 2 - Opening and Closing Ceremonies Overall Concept, subdivided into Peace, Coexistence, Reconstruction, Future, Japan and Tōkyō, Athletes, Involvement and Excitement, and Section 3 - The Positioning of The Four Ceremonies with Act One: Introduction - Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games, Act Two: Development - Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games, Act Three: Diversification - Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games and Act Four: Conclusion - Closing Ceremony of the Paralympic Games. 

Nomura Mansai, an actor in traditional Japanese (kyogen) theatre, was designated Chief Creative Director for the Tōkyō 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies on July 30, 2018. Movie director Yamazaki Takashi and Sasaki Hiroshi were appointed Executive Creative Directors for the ceremonies of the Olympics and the Paralympics, respectively. Sasaki Hiroshi was Creative Supervisor of the handover ceremony at the closure of Rio 2016, particularly known for the moment when Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzō appeared dressed up as Nintendo’s Super Mario. Movie producer and writer Kawamura Genki, creative producer Kurisu Yoshie, singer-songwriter Ringo Sheena (stage name), creative technologist Sugano Kaoru and choreographer MIKIKO (Mizuno Mikiko) were chosen as additional Creative Directors. Tōkyō 2020 follows the tendency of its three Olympic Summer precursors in appointing individuals from the film industry as supervisors; for Beijing 2008 Zhāng Yìmóu directed 15,000 performers in the impressive opening ceremony at the Bird’s Nest stadium, at the London 2012 Games, film director Danny Boyle lead a show that featured inter alios Queen, the Spice Girls, Mr. Bean and David Beckham and at the opening of Rio 2016, Fernando Meirelles, together with Daniela Thomas and Andrucha Waddington, chose to express the Brazilian spirit of music and samba. Marco Balich (who was Executive Producer and Creative Director of the 2006 Torino Opening Ceremonies as well as Executive Producer of the Closing Ceremony of the Olympics and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Paralympics of Sochi 2014), Balich Worldwide Shows and FiveCurrents, in association with the Japanese advertising company Dentsu are the producer of the Tōkyō 2020 opening and closing events. 

Rather short while ago, a dear (and much admired !) researcher acquaintance drew my attention to a sequence of rehearsal for the Opening Ceremony of the Tōkyō 2020 Olympic Games. The extract, though short, is not the less impressive and the part showing the individuals the very few seconds after their performance, made me realise the pressure that the artists probably feel (already at a training session, not to mention at the real ceremony, supposed to be held in front of tens of thousands spectators, television audience excluded), as well as how much time and effort must have been put into the preparation to achieve such precision. 

I am not quite sure, but I believe that like many (group) activities, practice of the performers has temporarily been suspended or maintained individually. The Tōkyō 2020 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony has been rescheduled to one year later, Friday, July 23, 2021. At least, 12 months have therefore been added to the training. Time will tell what we may ultimately get to see that day.


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