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This year, all attention will turn to the 2020 Olympics, with politicians, business leaders and the media talking about how to ensure its success, what it means for Japan domestically and internationally and how to avert a post-Olympic economic slump.

Outside the seven prefectures in the Kanto region centered on Tokyo, however, the high drama of the games will be absent with the notable exceptions of Hokkaido (marathons and soccer), Fukushima (baseball and softball) and Miyagi (soccer).

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