Toward Tokyo: The Olympic Games are finally here!

After the riveting Opening Ceremony at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium today, the 2021 games are officially open. Japan is geared up to make the international event extra exciting and to leave a legacy for the future.
The city’s famous Rainbow Bridge. Image: Courtesy Tokyo Film Commission.

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito made the announcement “I declare open the Games of Tokyo” against a backdrop of thousands of vacant seats at Tokyo’s 68,000-capacity Olympic Stadium, according to an AFP report. A reduced parade of about 5,700 athletes, far lower than the usual numbers, filed into the stadium, not all of them socially distanced but all wearing masks. While there were live fireworks, a lot of the visual effects were digital. At one point, nearly 2,000 synchronised drones formed a revolving globe over the stadium, to a cover version of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has acknowledged that the Games will be ‘very different from what all of us had imagined’. With 339 gold medals across 33 sports, and virtually no spectators, this will certainly be a unique version of the Games.

The Tokyo Olympics will take place over the next 16 action-packed days until August 8, 2021, following all the pandemic rules and regulations in place across venues. The aim is to make this the ‘Best Games Ever’. In order to achieve this goal, along with constructing new permanent facilities that will serve as competition venues, the team is also engaged in numerous efforts to ensure safety and improve the functionality of the city such as improving the transport infrastructure and universal accessibility, smooth and easy transportation, which are essential for smooth operations of the Games. The necessary preparations are all in place such as recruiting, training, and managing city volunteers, and promoting multilingual signage.

The Olympic and Paralympics Village has been constructed in the Harumi waterfront district. The residential units used by athletes during the Tokyo 2020 Games, will be renovated for use as general residential apartments after the Games. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been working on compiling a model plan of the post-games-use of the Olympic and Paralympics Village, and aims to establish a new community where a diverse range of people can interact and live comfortably at the site. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) is collaborating and cooperating with the Organising Committee in building up excitement and anticipation towards the Games and implementing cultural and educational programmes. The aim is to work towards turning the various projects undertaken for the Games into legacies for the future.

The TMG has also set up a ‘multilingual broadcasting system’ which distributes announcements across the facility in multiple languages so that even those who do not understand Japanese or have hearing impairments can stay updated on necessary information, and more people are safe, secure, and comfortable. They plan to use these systems after the Games as well, at international competitions and various events to remove the language barrier and obstacles. It promises a ‘symbiotic society’ where everyone, both Japanese and foreigners, can live comfortably.

The busy Shibuya Crossing. Image: Courtesy Tokyo Film Commission.

If you’re planning a visit soon…

Tokyo is a city brimming with traditional and modern culture, futuristic trends and extraordinary metropolitanism, from Tokyo Sky Tree to the beloved Sumida River, from the majestic Mount Fuji to the verdant valleys of Nikko, the Ghibli Museum to Gunma’s bountiful fruit farms, get out of the city and in touch with a different side of Japan.

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