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Tokyo 2020 hails preparations at six months mark

Fireworks explode above the Olympic rings as they are illuminated for the first time to mark 6 months to go to the Olympic games at Odaiba Marine Park on January 24, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

The organisers of Tokyo 2020 celebrated their six-months-to-go mark with a fireworks display in the city and a confident statement that “preparations for a successful Games are on schedule”.

The organising committee released a update on its preparations with a host of facts and statistics, including: seven of the eight new permanent venues built for the Games are complete, with the last venue, the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, to be completed next month; 4.5m tickets have been bought by the Japanese public; events and initiatives to mark or support the Olympics across Japan have numbered 138,000, with 98m participants; Tokyo 2020 has more than 7m followers across its official social media accounts; and the total number of Tokyo 2020 domestic sponsorship partners is at 65.

In a press release, Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Masa Takaya said: “We’ve spent the last seven years working toward this, and now with just six months to go we’re excited to see the pieces falling into place. From venues to volunteers to ticketing, preparations are exactly where we want them to be at the six-month mark.”

Local media reported that the organisers still face some notable challenges, including the growing coronavirus outbreak in Asia, expected congestion on Tokyo’s public transport during the Games, and finalising the switch of marathon and race walking events to Sapporo. Kyodo News reported that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been meeting regarding the coronavirus, after two cases were confirmed in Japan. The news service said transport and accommodation was still being organised for 2,000 athletes and staff for the Sapporo events. Japan Today reported that Tokyo’s rail system is expected to be overloaded at peak hours during the Games.

But the overall tone of media coverage and official announcements on the preparations appears positive. Japan Today reported that “The organisers are dealing with fewer issues than their counterparts did in the build-up to Rio four years ago”.

Among the other milestones listed by the organising committee in their press release were:

  • The athletes’ village was completed in December 2019. The centrepiece Village Plaza has been constructed from timber that after the Games will be dismantled and distributed to its source regions in Japan for use in legacy projects.
  • 80,000 volunteers for the Games, from Japan and overseas, have been selected from a total of 204,680 applications.
  • Follower numbers on Tokyo 2020 social media accounts are:
    • Facebook – 724,689 (likes)
    • Instagram – 295,287
    • LINE – 5,465,280
    • Twitter (Japanese) – 338,922
    • Twitter (English) – 200,040
    • YouTube – 61,300 subscribers
    • Weibo – 27,666
    • Douyin (TikTok China) – 31,080
    • And for Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay accounts – Twitter, 10,783 followers; Instagram,  4,810
  • The OC is currently running the Tokyo 2020 Open Innovation Challenge, a global competition for developers to create apps that will enhance spectators’ experience of watching urban sports. A ‘final screening’ of entries will take place on February 22.
  • Four companies are sponsoring the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay, the highest number ever.
  • The Tokyo 2020 merchandise catalogue contains about 5,000 items. They are being sold across 72 shops in Japan.

Test events for the Games are currently underway. They started in September 2018, and have been held in three waves – the first focused on outdoor sports, between June and September 2019; the second focused on indoor sports and is being held from October 2019 to January 2020; the third will take place between February and May 2020.