“Legacy” or “legacies” has been a key world in the recent history of the Olympic Games.
In fact, it is used by officials and administrators, including the International Olympic Committee, to convince host cities and the public that the Summer or Winter Games are not just one-time, expendable extravaganzas, but will contribute to leaving sustainable influences afterward.
And when they refer to Olympic legacies, this does not mean only infrastructure, like stadiums, arenas, buildings and parks, but also train lines and stations and highways that are newly built or renovated for the event.
But the legacies also represent intangibles that provide societal benefits, such as enhancing the awareness of the public for sports, health and other social issues, and providing an economic impact.
Leaving these intangible legacies is easier said than done.
On Monday, directors from the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and sponsor companies for the 2020 Games discussed these topics at a round-table conference in Tokyo.
The University of Tsukuba’s Tsukuba International Academy for Sports Studies master’s program hosted the conference.
Takanori Ishikawa, a senior director of the Action and Legacy division of the organizing committee, introduced its nationwide participation program as a way of trying to get as many Japanese citizens as possible involved in Olympic-related activities.
The committee launched the program in 2016 to raise awareness for the second Summer Games in Japan.
Groups like local governments, Olympic partner companies and non-profit organizations apply to form their own programs and become officially approved by the committee. After receiving approval, they can use the term “the Olympics and Paralympics” for various activities and be given the green light to use Olympic logos.
Program themes can be broad. They can be sports-related, but can also be about culture, technology, ecology or economics. And they can be about something that showcases the country’s revival from the Great East Japan Earthquake, too.
For instance, Komazawa University hosted a sports festival last October for its students and local citizens.
Paralympic sports associations and organizations have held events to give the public opportunities to recognize their sports.
Elsewhere, Olympic sponsor companies like Toyota and Panasonic, both of which are global partners, have hosted concerts and educational events.
But these are only a few examples of the hundreds of other programs that have been held around the country.
“It’s important for us to let the citizens recognize the programs and embrace (the Olympics and its related activities),” Ishikawa said. “And we want them to recognize the value (of the programs). We would like to concentrate on our effort for this undertaking throughout this year.”
Oliver Takahashi, general manager of Coca-Cola (Japan) Company, Ltd. for the Tokyo Olympics, insisted that his company isn’t necessarily looking for direct business success by being a partner company for the Olympics.
He said that Coca-Cola, which has supported the Olympics since the 1928 Amsterdam Games, would prefer to contribute by introducing “long-lasting innovative” projects through the Olympics.
As one of its projects, Coca-Cola Japan has helped support the development of the domestic sports federations and Olympic movement activities with sales revenue from its vending machines.
Naoki Matsushita, senior general manager of Asics Corp.’s global sports marketing division, stressed the importance of developing human resources to help leave a lasting legacy and make the Tokyo Games a genuinely historic event.
Asics is a gold partner for the Tokyo Olympics.
“Having better human resources is a big element to leave positive legacies,” Matsushita said. “We would like to employ those who have deeper connections with the rest of the world as well going forward.”