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The countdown begins. Tokyo puts on its game face

The countdown begins. Tokyo puts on its game face image

In 1964, the Tokyo Olympics transformed Japan after the country had been devastated by the effects and aftermath of the Second World war. 54 years later and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are aiming to be the most innovative in history.

There are now less than three years to go until the opening ceremony of the 2020 Olympic Games, and the city marked this moment in the timeline with a spectacular Tokyo 2020 Flag Tour Festival at the Citizen’s Plaza in Shinjuku. More than 5,000 spectators joined the gathered Olympians and Paralympians and this turn-out suggested this will be one helluva of a popular event in 2020.

The ‘3 Years To Go’ event, which was co-hosted by the Tokyo Organising Committee of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020), the Japanese Olympic Committee, the Japanese Paralympic Committee and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, featured a newly-created projection mapping display whereby a dazzling video light show was projected onto the façade of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly building. The show was accompanied by music which showcased the attractions of the 2020 Olympic host city, as well as the power of sport, and gave an indication of what people can expect from the Games in three years time.

The ‘3 Years To Go’ event is only the start of the celebrations though. With an emphasis on ‘happiness and peace’, designers are creating a traditional Japanese jacket and casual kimono to celebrate the Games; a dance song called “Tokyo Gorin Ondo 2020” will be released, with a video so that people can learn the moves, and a number of other events which will showcase Japanese culture to the world will be held.

Speaking about Tokyo Gorin Ondo 2020, Tokyo 2020 President, Yoshiro Mori, said: “Through this, we are expressing the wish that many people, young and old, men and women, will dance and feel happy when the Tokyo Gorin Ondo 2020 song is played. A video will soon be available through our website, through which people can learn the song and dance routine and we hope that people around the world can thus have a glimpse of Japanese culture.”

Even without the song and dance, for hockey, this will be an exciting Olympics. Not only are some state-of-the art facilities planned, which will allow teams to perform to their optimum and spectators to enjoy the sport from one of the best stadiums in the world, but this is a chance for hockey’s spotlight to shine on a part of the world that hasn’t seen much international competition. With the women’s hockey team ranked 11th and the men ranked 17th, hockey has yet to be really adopted by the larger Japanese population but the hockey event team behind Tokyo 2020 is looking to change that.

Certainly, the aims and strategies behind both the Olympic hockey event and the Olympics themselves are married to the ideals of the FIH.

The three core aims of the Tokyo Organising Committee (TOCOG) are to ‘Strive for your personal best’, ‘Accept one another’, and ‘Pass on legacy to the future’ – all aims and values that resonate with the FIH’s own key initiatives contained within the Hockey Revolution. With 48.8 per cent of the participating athletes being female, this is another alignment with the FIH – gender equality – 2020 will be the most gender-balanced Games in history.

Currently, many of the Olympic venues are still in planning stages; these will be located in two zones, the Heritage Zone and the Tokyo Bay Zone, and will reflect both tradition and the future.

FIH Director of Sport David Luckes has been involved in the planning for the men’s and women’s hockey events at Tokyo 2020 since the city learnt its bid had been successful. ‘Progress continues with the planning for the hockey event at Oi Seaside Park in Tokyo,’ says Luckes.

‘The venue will host two competition pitches, with pitch one having a capacity of 10,000 and pitch two with a capacity of 5,000. Currently, discussions are ongoing about securing a viable legacy between FIH, the Japanese Hockey Association (JHA) and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government which will retain pitch one as a legacy venue following the completion of the Games.

‘As part of the planning process, FIH has regular calls with TOCOG alongside visits to sign off the venue design process and agree the detail of the services provided by the various functional areas.’

President of the Japanese Hockey Association is Mr Koga. He says that hockey still needs to build a bigger fan base in Japan but he has high hopes that this is exactly what the Olympic competition will achieve. ‘Even though the number of registered player is approximately 12 thousand,’ says the President. ‘Hockey is not so popular in Japan. JHA is working on media exposure, acquiring sponsors and better quality of presentation to spectators.

‘This is a very big opportunity to increase the “Hockey family” through the world level competition. The Games will make more people interested in the sport of hockey, which will be a tangible legacy.’

Mr Koga was a close observer of the hockey competition in both London 2012 and Rio 2016. he plans to implement all he learnt from those two events. ‘We learned many good points from the perspective of the athletes, officials and spectators in London and Rio and we would like to refer to those points, and also we also want to show Japanese hospitality called “O-mo-te-na-shi.’

In terms of a legacy, the other tangible benefit to the JHA will be the facilities.The new hockey stadium will be one of eight permanent venues to be built across the city. There are 40 venues in total, a mixture of new builds, existing facilities and temporary structures. The hockey venue is to the west of the Bay area and the plan is for the venue to be a multi-sport and hockey venue once the Games are completed.

Many of the original concepts that were the basis of the Tokyo bid are taking shape. One of the most striking symbols of any Olympic Games is the Olympic symbol. The 2020 design will reflect the Japanese love of indigo blue and will consist of 45 rectangular shapes, spelling out the Olympic 2020 logo.

With just over 1000 days to go, the Tokyo Organising Committee has a number of other landmark events planned. The Tokyo Education Programme, or Yoi Don, launched in April – Yoi Don is the signal for the start of a race or event and this aims to foster the core values of the Games in young people. In September, the 2020 Participation Programme, which transcends the fields of sport, art, culture, will be initiated, while the mascot – which has huge significance and importance in Japan – will be unveiled in March 2018. From then on, the activity programme really ramps up and FIH will be working closely with TOCOG to keep all hockey fans up to speed with ticketing and event information.

And finally, in an innovative nod to Japan’s role as leader in the field of technology and its focus on sustainability, the medals that the winning hockey teams will be wearing after the finals on 8 and 9 August 2020 will all be made from recycled devices.

PHOTO _ Seaside Park Hockey Stadium_1 (Simulated image as of Jun 2016 - ©Tokyo Metropolitan Government).jpg


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