Let’s discuss the Tokyo 2020 Cultural Olympiad


This week’s featured article


Japan’s celebration of culture leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will “deliver something inspiring for the people of Japan and the whole world,” according to London 2012 Cultural Olympiad Director Ruth Mackenzie.

“Each Olympics has the chance to celebrate the culture of their country,” Mackenzie told reporters after meeting with the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee earlier this week. “Japan is known worldwide for the beauty and richness not just of your heritage, but also of your contemporary artists, your popular artists, your supremacy in the creative industries and your supremacy in digital innovation. So I am sure that your festival and your Cultural Olympiad will beat London’s.”

A Cultural Olympiad is a program of cultural events held across an Olympic host country during the four-year period leading up to the games. The Tokyo 2020 Cultural Olympiad began on Oct. 7 last year with a ceremony in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi district and performances fusing traditional arts with modern technology.

London’s 2012 Cultural Olympiad attracted over 40 million people to one or more of an estimated 180,000 activities held across Britain. The program culminated in the London 2012 Festival, a huge nationwide extravaganza of music, dance, art and theater that ran from June 21 through Sept. 9, 2012, and involved more than 25,000 performers and 12,000 events.

London’s Cultural Olympiad was hailed as a huge success, but the economic crisis gripping Brazil took a severe toll on cultural plans for last year’s Rio Games. An estimated 50 percent of the program surrounding the games was scrapped, although events such as street theater and dancing still went ahead on a smaller scale.

“Sports and culture have different characteristics, but they work in synergy to produce something bigger,” said Masanori Aoyagi, chairman of the Tokyo 2020 Culture and Education Commission. “London 2012 was the first digital Olympiad, but Tokyo 2020 will be even more so, and that’s something we need to grasp. Japanese culture will be in the spotlight, so we need to take that on board and produce a great Cultural Olympiad.”

Mackenzie agreed that the global cultural showcase that comes with hosting the Olympics can benefit the whole of Japan, not just its capital.

First published in The Japan Times on March 10.

Warm up

One-minute chat about “culture.”


Collect words related to the Olympics, e.g., sports, competition, world.

New words

1) supremacy: the state of being superior to all others, e.g., “China and the U.S. are competing for economic and military supremacy.”

2) fuse: to combine as if by melting together, e.g., “The music fuses Japanese and Western styles.”

3) culminate: to reach its highest point or climax, e.g., “The event will culminate in a spectacular finale.”

Guess the headline

J_ _ _ _ will deliver big during T_ _ _ _ 2020 Cultural Olympiad, London Games official says


1) What is the Cultural Olympiad?

2) What were the Cultural Olympiads like at recent Olympics?

3) Has the Cultural Olympiad for Tokyo already been launched?

Let’s discuss the article

1) Did you know about the Cultural Olympiad before reading this article?

2) Do you think the Cultural Olympiad for Tokyo will be a success?

3) What do you think should be in the program for the Tokyo 2020 Cultural Olympiad?


スポーツの祭典が華やかに行われる中、近年は文化の祭典としての要素に力を入れようと新たな取り組みが始まっています。ロンドン、リオデジャネイロとその規模はそれぞれ異なりましたが、東京オリンピックでは東京らしい 新旧の文化要素を生かしたイベントが期待されているようです。




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