National

Three-year countdown to Tokyo 2020 Olympics begins with new song-and-dance routine

by Magdalena Osumi

Staff Writer

Hoping to generate an Olympic buzz at home and overseas, Tokyo’s 2020 organizers kicked off the countdown to the games on Monday — exactly three years before the opening ceremony — by releasing the lyrics for a promotional theme song and summer dance.

But the preparations for the Tokyo Olympics are not all fun and games because delays in construction and other problems are threatening the quadrennial event.

On Monday morning, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori appeared on stage at the Toranomon Hills complex in Minato Ward to express his hopes for a successful Olympics.

Wearing a yukata (summer kimono) printed with the Olympic logo, Mori was accompanied by Olympics minister Tamayo Marukawa and a bevy of Olympians, including former soccer player Homare Sawa, who won a silver medal at the 2012 London Games.

The song, with which the organizer is aiming to promote the Japanese summer festivals, turned out to be a new version of “Tokyo Gorin Ondo,” the theme song for the 1964 Summer Olympics, with lyrics updated to include the Paralympians. The official version, which was not played, will be performed by singers Sayuri Ishikawa, Yuzo Kayama and Pistol Takehara.

At a meeting later in the day, Mori urged the games organizers to speed up their preparations to meet the tight schedule.

“The problems with Loop Road No. 2 have been lingering” Mori said in his opening remarks. “We need to team up with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and proceed as quickly as possible.”

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is rushing to complete a new section of the thoroughfare that will connect the athletes’ village in the Harumi district in Chuo Ward with the center of the city.

The delay was caused by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike’s decision to postpone the relocation of the famed Tsukiji fish market to its toxic new home in the Toyosu district in Koto Ward.

Last month Koike confirmed that the fish market would proceed to Toyosu and that its 23-hectare site will be renovated and reopened after the Olympics. For the games, it will be used as a transport hub.

The announcements came as a scandal swirled over the March suicide of a young construction worker who was working on the new National Stadium.

The 23-year-old man was found to have logged over 200 hours of overtime in February after the Tsukiji relocation delay tightened the stadium schedule, according to a lawyer representing his relatives.

Hikariko Ono, a spokeswoman for the Tokyo organizing committee, expressed her condolences after the meeting Monday, and said the organizers would do their utmost to prevent this from happening again.

The metropolitan government estimates it will need a 30-hectare site to park 2,000 buses and 4,000 cars during the games.

The organizers are also struggling with measures to beat the heat during the event.

The 2020 Games are set to begin on July 24. The Olympians will compete in 33 categories through Aug. 9, while the Paralympians will compete in 22 categories from Aug. 25 to Sept. 6.

As this time when Tokyo is at its hottest and most humid, the heat poses a threat to athletes and spectators alike, and organizers are considering new pavement technologies and other methods to reduce heat emissions.