The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics is well underway in Japan. But it isn’t the first time the island nation has hosted the prestigious tournament. In fact, Japan has tried to host the Olympic Games 12 times!
Japan has been lobbying, bidding, preparing for, or hosting the Olympic Games constantly since the 1930s. Out of its 12 bids to host the Olympics, the island nation won five times but eventually ended up hosting four Games, because the 1940 Olympics were cancelled due to World War II.
According to a 2016 report published by the US-based Association for Asian Studies, the country’s first time as Olympic hosts was during the Tokyo 1964 Games – an event that completely transformed Japan. It significantly improved its economy and enhanced Japanese people’s awareness of foreign cultures.
This year, too, Japan has built its facilities not just for the 16-day tournament, but for the future of Tokyo. The Olympic Village, for instance, is powered by hydrogen-fuelled electricity, and currently serves as dormitories, cafeterias and training facilities for the 11,000 athletes competing this year. But after the Games, it will be turned into flats, a school, shops and other facilities for residents. With seaside parks and other green spaces, the Village is prepped to create an environmentally friendly, technologically advanced urban district – a new residential hub on Tokyo’s map.
Another addition for the Olympics, the Agora, which is styled after the public meeting places of ancient Greece, has been built in the historic Nihonbashi district. For more than 400 years, Nihonbashi has been a lively neighbourhood that serves an intersect of arts, culture and commerce.
The Olympic Agora currently showcases a series of artwork by Olympian artists in residence, along with exhibitions and digital programs that celebrate the sporting event. But long after the Olympics is done, the Agora aims to continue revitalising the district with its multi-purpose urban spaces and facilities to promote the arts.
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