Tokyo getting awarded the 2020 Summer Olympic Games is great news for Japan. A country that has taken a beating in the last few years in front of the entire instant-information world. The earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear troubles that the world watched live in 2011 were just another blow to a country that was also sliding from economic and technological dominance.
The 2020 Olympics will be a chance for Japan to re-emerge as a country that can take that beating and not just survive but show the world why it is a powerhouse. Again. Yes, again.
Many of these same ideas and metaphors parallel the the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics, though stemming from much different origins. The ’64 Olympics were more of a re-acceptance and re-emergence as Japan pulled itself together after the dark years of war. In fact, Japan had won the bid for the 1940 Olympics but abandon it as the world plunged into war.
The 1964 Summer Games in Tokyo were a chance for Japan to show the world they were back. This was the new reformed Japan. A Japan preaching peace and looking for acceptance using the grandest “non-political” stage in the world. The Emperor and the Hinomaru (red sun flag) that were synonymous with the war years, were now being used to revive its international status while also restoring its national pride.
The Tokyo games set many precedents that were Olympic firsts. The main one being that it was the first Olympic Summer Games held in Asia. Technology from those games are still used today like the touch pad timing for swimmers and the introduction of lines in the photo finish to help determine results. It was the first time the Olympic Games were shown via satellite and in color.
Tokyo’s infrastructure also got a big boost that can still be felt today. Aside from the numerous highways, trains and subway lines, many of the structures and stadiums built 50 years ago are still being used today. Nippon Budokan, Yoyogi National Stadium, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium will be used as stadiums for the 2020 games. All this pre-existing infrastructure will be used to keep the budget for the games at about $6 billion. Which seems quite humble and modest considering China paid $43 billion for the 2008 Beijing Games and Russia is pushing $50 billion for the Sochi Games. But Japan knows modest and humble better than any other nation on Earth. So even if they come close to that it will be a success.
1964 was also the introduction of the Shinkansen (bullet train) to the rest of the world. The Shinkansen was such a marvel of engineering that those original 0-series trains were still running as of a few years ago. So my prediction for the upcoming games will be;
Japan will introduce its new SCMaglev high speed train for the 2020 games. This is just a guess on my part, but I don’t feel like I am that far off. The SCMaglev train is a magnetically levitated bullet train that rockets across Japan at an astounding 300 plus mile and hour. Still in its testing faze, the Mag-Lev is the fastest train in the world. Japan Rail Central which owns train, has been in the news recently taking journalist for rides at 300 plus miles an hour. I think some part of the track will be live by the time the Olympic Games start and they will have a chance to show it off while the whole world has their eyes on Tokyo. A once in a lifetime PR move. Or twice in a lifetime since it worked out well in the 1964 games.
The 2020 Summer Olympic Games will be a chance for Japan to show more new technology and introduce more history. Perhaps even give the IOC a moral boost like they did with FIFA and the World Cup. It’s a chance to show people why Japan is such a great country. Again…