BY DAVID ONJILI
From July 24 to August 9 the world will turn her attention to Tokyo, Japan. This will be the second time that Japan will be hosting the Olympics, since 1964 when they became the first Asian nation to host the event. Kenya has qualified in several sporting disciplines. Miraitowa, which means future and eternity was voted for by Japanese children and will be the games’ mascot.
In 1964, Japan hosted one of the most well organized events that the nation used to sell its culture and technology to the world. It is during these Olympics that the Tokaido Shinkansen (bullet trains) Line was inaugurated. It connected Tokyo and
Shin-Osaka, a distance of 500Km in 3 hours and 10 minutes.
A number of economists have credited the economic rise of Japan in the mid 19th century to have had its beginnings at the Olympics. They used the event to sell their image to the world as a technological haven. The same is forecasted to hold true going by the country’s preparation for the upcoming event.
The Olympics will be hosted in 38 venues, eight of which are new. The remaining 31 were used during the 1964 Olympics and have been revamped. This edition promises to exhibit Japanese invention, culture and hospitability if the venues are anything to go by.
The more than eleven thousand athletes who will grace the Olympics will be hosted at the Athletes Village Plaza, situated on an artificial island. It is made of 40,000 pieces of timber donated by each of the 63 Japanese municipal governments. After the games, the timber will be dismantled and returned to each of the municipalities that distributed them for re-use in local facilities. Noteworthy is that each of the timber is marked with the name of the municipality that provided it.
Environmental conservation deeply inspired a number of the facilities. Forbes observed that the athletics village for instance will have buses that are powered by Hydrogen. Interestingly, re-usable timber remains the most used raw material in most of the facilities. The goal being to recycle them after the games.
Despite concerns from environmentalists that Japan had contributed to rainforest destruction to put up a number of these facilities, event organizers have assured and disputed those claims.
The Ariake Gymnastic Centre
This 12,000 capacity facility will host artistic, rhythmic and trampoline gymnastics events during the Olympics. The defining feature of Ariake is its timber roof frames. The inspiration of the architects being to showcase Japan’s craftsmanship.
Japanese cedar was embraced to create the exterior of the building. Spectators will sit on crafted wooden benches inside the facility that have been crafted from cedar.
Tokyo Aquatic Centre
The 15,000 capacity facility will host swimming, diving and synchronized swimming events. This is one of the new facilities that Japan built for the Olympics and its capacity will be downsized to 5000 once the Olympics are over.
The New National Stadium
This 68,000 capacity facility will be the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics. It will also host the football games and athletics. Despite the controversy around the cost of the stadium, estimated to be around $20b, the organizers have moved in fast to quell fears. Initially designed in the shape of a turtle, all was changed after the uproar. Case in point is provision of energy through self-generating means like solar power. Plus, geothermal heating and cooling facilities for both athletes and guests during duration of the Olympics.
Staying true to its billing as a nation of cutting edge technology, Japan will employ numerous robots to aid in baggage inspections at airports. Travelers to the event will also be driven in driverless cars that will help the tourists navigate the city. Expect cameras everywhere that will help the organizers clamp on insecurity and criminal elements will be identified and dealt with
according to the law.
Eliud Kipchoge is the last man to win an Olympics medal since the marathon is usually the last race. He achieved this at the Rio Olympics in Brazil and he will be in Tokyo to defend that title. Having broken the marathon record of running it under two hours, he will be amongst the star studded athletes that will grace the event. Kenya Olympics team in Rio was able to finish fifteenth by amassing thirteen medals six of which were Gold. The country will be looking to improved performances this year.