Look ahead, far and wide

Only 5 months and one day to go until the opening of the Tōkyō 2020 Olympics !

Living in a host city during the preparation of the Games can provoke curiosity and excitement about what the remaining months may bring and how the event period will be. However, it can also be frightening to feel how fast time passes and to imagine how soon it all will come to an end. 

The Tōkyō 2020 Olympics count 42 and the Paralympics 21 venues that are (mainly) located in the city and the surrounding prefectures, though for exceptional cases also in other regions of the archipelago. Given the capital’s geographical extension, the competitions will be held far from certain parts of the city and as their visibility is not evident, the Games could, theoretically, for some inhabitants pass almost unnoticed. 

On May 16, 2019, the Olympic rings were launched in front of the newly built Japan Sport Olympic Square, next to the National Stadium in Tōkyō’s Shinjuku Ward. Shortly after, in summer 2019, a second exemplary of the rings was displayed on Nihonbashi Bridge in Chūō Ward. Some months later, on September 14, 2019, Japan’s new Olympic Museum, housed on the first two floors of the Japan Sport Olympic Square, opened its doors to the public. The museum, operated by the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC), features exhibitions about the history of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and includes an interactive section. Outside the edifice, visitors can see the Olympic cauldrons from Tōkyō 1964, Sapporo 1972 and Nagano 1998 as well as statues of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the Games of the modern era, and Kanō Jigorō, educator and athlete, inventor of Judo (premier Japanese martial art to gain international recognition and to become an official Olympic sport at the Tōkyō 1964 Games) and first Asian member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). 

On January 17, 2020, giant Olympic rings were brought to Odaiba Marine Park (Minato-ku), and celebrated with an inauguration ceremony on January 24, 6 months before the opening of the Games. 

Official fan shops and flagship stores sell Olympic goodies, and diverse branded articles are findable in supermarkets and konbinis. Notably since the One Year To Go the range of items has permanently increased and sponsors especially in the food industry make sure to have Olympic and Paralympic signs on every imaginable product. Chocolate and other sweets packages, beverages, dairy products and even soy sauces feature the emblems and slowly but steadily raise the visibility of the Games in daily life. Japan has a particular proclivity to seasonal products and special editions. Thus, I oftentimes get amused to discover the latest Olympics’ versions. For example, the One Year To Go Asahi beer cans started to be sold from July 2019, before getting a new look for the 200 Days To Go, and recently being transformed into the GOLD LABEL GO for 2020. 

The labelled products are only one of many elements contributing to the outspread of the Games; step by step, public and private buildings are decorated with posters showing the emblems and the mascots. About three weeks ago, the Ward of Shinjuku started to exhibit kids’ Olympics and Paralympics drawings on columns along Shinjuku-Dori Ave, and since last week, TŌKYŌ 2020 flags have been suspended on street lights all over the city. 

Up to present, one may rather have had to seek for signs of the event. However, this has gradually changed, and evidence has become, to the pleasure of some, and to the regret of others, omnipresent. 

As much as the approach of the Games is undeniable and unstoppable, as much inevitable has their confrontation henceforth become to the capital’s inhabitants. 

The new mission of the mascots Miraitowa and Someity is to spread the Tōkyō 2020 spirit over the world. Therefore, a departure ceremony was hosted at Haneda Airport last Wednesday, February 19. Their journey will notably lead to Barcelona, Paris, Bonn, Athens, London and Lausanne…

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