Today marks exactly 365 days to the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
But as the clock continues to tick, and quite fast at that, organisers in Tokyo can rest easy as they are well ahead of schedule and confident they will host the most successful Olympics ever.
It’s a fact that Japanese technology will make the July 24 to August 9 Olympic Games and subsequent August 25 to September 6 Paralympic Games the most technologically advanced ever.
From facial recognition for accredited persons, to the Olympic Torch relay going into outer space, and robots ushering in visitors at Olympic venues, the Tokyo Games will most certainly lay down the technology marker.
On a tour of the Olympic venues a couple of months back, I was impressed by the meticulous arrangements by the Japanese who are also employing the latest technology to cool down the Olympic marathon route.
Right from the start of our tour, facilitated by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), we had our day-long activities planned to the second.
Yokohama City, where we had our accommodation at the Daiwa Roynet Hotel, is just an hour’s drive from downtown Tokyo, and as soon as we settled into the bus at 9am, Mika, our guide, was already taking our lunch orders!
It took us 60 minutes from Yokohama to the Tokyo Olympic Stadium where most of the action will be centred, including the marathon where Kenya’s world record holder Eliud Kipchoge will be a star attraction in his title defence.
A generally flat course, the route rises by about three metres to the highest point of 35 metres above sea level at the 40-kilometre mark, a short, sharp uphill to the finish.
Masa Takaya, the Tokyo 2020 Spokesman, is confident they have everything under control, and says the Games will be a mixture of the past and the future.
“The Olympic Games will take place around a “Heritage Zone”, showcasing the legacy of the Tokyo 1964 Games with the “Tokyo Bay Zone” symbolizing the future of the city,” Takaya, who was accompanied by hammer throw legend Koji Murofushi, now the Tokyo 2020 Sporting Director, explains.
The Games have also adopted the “urban cluster concept” which basically means that a location will be developed for festivities around the Aomi, Odaiba and Araike areas.
The opening and closing ceremonies will be held at the main Olympic Stadium where actor Mansai Nomura and creative directors Takashi Yamazaki and Hiroshi Sasaki are crafting what promises to be interesting shows.
On climate countermeasures, the Tokyo 2020 team has installed cooling technology that will see temperatures around 100 kilometres, including the entire marathon route, controlled.
This features a “heat blocking surface” that has special paint with a cooling effect applied on the surface of the road, a venture by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. “This technology reduces the heat for the cars which also reduces the heat in the environment and this will be perfect for the marathon runners,” Takaya explains. “With over one million fans cheering on during the annual Tokyo Marathon, we are confident that we will have many spectators for the Olympic marathon race,” Takaya adds.
With many global events struggling for sponsorship, Tokyo 2020 hasn’t had such problems with an avalanche of corporates throwing their sponsorship hats into the ring.
“Sponsorship has been a huge success. For instance, while regulations allow one company for one category, we have had numerous requests and we have, for example, accepted two airline sponsorships instead of one, and we also have two banks and three travel agents instead of one per category,” Takaya boasts.
Interest in the purchase of tickets has also been overwhelming.
“We have had massive ticket applications. For instance, in the unique number category, against a benchmark of two million from the London 2012 Olympics, we already have exceeded requests by four million!
“We already had 3.5 million ticket requests on the night before the launch of ticketing, and we expect to sell about 10 million tickets — 7.8 million for the Olympics and 2.3 million for the Paralympics,” the Tokyo 2020 spokesman explains.
Interestingly, there will be no Olympic Park at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
“The entire city will become an Olympic Park because the venues are right in the middle of the commercial area,” Tayaka explains.
“Tokyo 2020 will be the most innovative Games in history.”