Despite scandals, rising costs and doubts about the economic payoff, the Tokyo Olympics will be a must-see event -- if you can find a ticket or a hotel room -- when they open in a year. Tokyo was supposed to be a "safe pair of hands" after Rio de Janeiro's corruption and near-meltdown three years ago. Local sponsorship revenue has passed ¥324 billion ($3 billion), about three times more than any previous games, driven by Japan's giant advertising and marketing company Dentsu Inc., the exclusive marketing agency for the Tokyo Games that is caught in a French probe into alleged vote-buying connected with Tokyo winning the 2020 bid. Ticket demand is unprecedented and few Japanese can even get them. Estimates suggest up to 90 percent of Japan's residents who applied were unsuccessful in the first phase of a ticket lottery in June.
The eyes of the world will be on Tokyo for more than just the 16 days that it hosts the 2020 Olympics, as the concept of legacy gains more importance for global sporting mega-events. "I think what Tokyo can learn from Rio is that without a compelling case for legacy, a city should not host the games," 2016 Rio Olympics spokesman Mario Andrada told The Japan Times during a recent interview in Tokyo. "Because it is a really expensive venture, and only a well-structured, tangible, clear legacy can justify the public spending on an adventure like this." The legacy of an Olympics refers to the benefits that a host city and country gains once the event is over. That can take the form of new stadiums, redeveloped urban areas and updated transport networks -- the so-called hard legacy -- or a boost to the nation's image and an inspiration for its people -- the soft legacy.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike vowed Friday to use the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics to create a city that can cope with the demands of a rapidly aging population. Graying Japan is one of the world's fastest aging societies, with the number of centenarians rising to 65,692 in September, an increase of 4,124 from the previous year. Tokyo is under pressure to update its creaking infrastructure to deal with its aging population, but Koike said she believed the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics can provide the catalyst to transform the city. "In 2025, Japan will see the baby-boomer generation reach the age of 75," Koike told an audience at the World Forum on Sport and Culture in Tokyo. "We will be a super-aged society.
One of the many challenges facing Tokyo as it prepares to host the next Summer Olympics is the possibility of a deadly heat wave like the one that has gripped the nation in recent weeks. With two years to go until the 2020 Games, Japan is experiencing one of its hottest summers on record. On Monday, the mercury hit 40 degrees Celsius in central Tokyo for the first time in history. If a similar heat wave strikes during the July 24 -- Aug. 9 Olympics, the health of athletes, spectators and workers is very likely to be at risk during outdoor endurance events such as the marathon and cycling. Accordingly, the International Olympic Committee has approved a plan to hold some events early in the morning to avoid the heat, and its inspection team has said all venues will be analyzed to determine what further measures can be taken to mitigate the impact of the high temperatures.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, dressed as Super Mario, holds a red ball during the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Japanese PM Shinzo Abe's show-stopping appearance at today's closing ceremony in Rio, dressed as iconic game character Super Mario, already sets the tone for what lies in store. Japan is known internationally for its technological innovations, so Tokyo 2020 organizers are aiming to launch ambitious tech projects that will boost the economy and wow crowds. Tourists staying next to the Olympic Village in Tokyo's Odaiba neighborhood can choose, for example, to hang out with robot helpers of all sizes and sorts that offer up tips on the best transport, food and entertainment options in Tokyo. And that won't be the only place they'll encounter their robotic counterparts.