Tokyo 2020 Olympic organizers on Saturday marked 1,000 days to go before the games begin with a parade and demonstrations of new Olympic sports in the city’s Nihonbashi district.
Participants wearing festive happi coats braved steady rain to carry four floats bearing large gold 1, 0, 0 and 0 figures along Chuo-dori to a stage where a display was unveiled to count down the days until the Summer Games begin on July 24, 2020.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike joined Olympic minister Shunichi Suzuki and others in addressing the crowd, before athletes gave a demonstration of 3×3 basketball, BMX freestyle, sport climbing and skateboarding — all sports that will make their Olympic debuts in 2020.
“Nihonbashi is in an Olympic mood today,” said Suzuki. “Seeing everyone here so interested in the 2020 Olympics convinces me that the event will be a success.”
The four demonstrated sports are among several events making their debuts at the Tokyo Games as the International Olympic Committee attempts to cast off its stuffy image and appeal to a younger audience.
Saturday’s demonstrations featured BMX riders flying through the air, skateboarders pulling off spectacular tricks and 3×3 basketball players showing off the shorter, faster version of the game. “Skateboarding is an individual sport which you can enjoy in a way that you don’t get with team sports,” said 19-year-old skateboarder Kaito Sagawa, who is aiming to take part in the 2020 competition.
“I think young people will enjoy watching it. I think it’s good that it’s getting a lot of attention,” he said.
Other guests at the event, which was jointly hosted by the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, included swimmer Ryosuke Irie and weight lifter Hiromi Miyake — both Olympic silver medalists — as well as popular kabuki actor Ebizo Ichikawa.
“It was great to be part of a big event like this,” said backstroke swimmer Irie, who is aiming to win gold in 2020 after claiming two silver medals and one bronze at the 2012 London Games. “When you see so many people coming out in the rain like this, it reminds you how much of a big deal the Tokyo Olympics is.
“Tomorrow it will be 999 days to go, not 1,000, and time will fly by after that. So it’s a good reminder not to waste a single day and do what I need to do to achieve the best result at the Tokyo Olympics.” The games will end on Aug. 9.
Karate and surfing will also make their Olympic debuts at Tokyo 2020, with baseball and softball returning to the program after a 12-year absence.
Following the event, the countdown display will be placed on the second floor of metropolitan government headquarters in Shinjuku Ward.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.