The Olympics will be here before we know it. With just over five years to go, the air all around the city is abuzz with excitement. However, many Tokyoites—Japanese and foreign alike—are debating how Japan will present itself, in criteria ranging from sustainability, diversity and legacy, to accessibility, openness and the capacity to communicate in English. Indeed, Japan has a huge responsibility to both itself and the world in 2020.
When the Games roll around, will Tokyo just be the center of the world’s attention for a few brief weeks? Or could Japan use the opportunity to position itself as the heart of the Pacific Century, an era of expected Asian dominance in world affairs that will be just coming of age at twenty years young?
What if we changed all the world’s maps and placed Tokyo at the center? With the prime meridian—or relative zero—running through not Europe but on Asia, would those in the new Far East city of New York be upset by such an exotic appellation? Would those in the new wild, wild west of Europe be equally perturbed? What indeed would our good friends in the new Middle West think? Would folks here in Tokyo, inhabitants of the new zero, be reinvigorated now that we really were the benchmark center of the times?
Indeed, would poets wax lyrical about New York being the Land of the Rising Sun? Would high noon be no longer associated with Westerns, but Tokyo bathed in light? I wonder what Greenwich herself would make of all this in the meantime as she and her city, London, lagged Asia by nine hours?
Times may not change, and we may be forced to keep many of our old labels, but we do know for many here in Tokyo—and indeed around the world—the sun will shine brilliantly on this fair city, our adopted home. As the whole world is welcomed once again to sample the timeless omotenashi hospitality, the raw passion and emotion of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games will play out in our metropolis.
The opportunity to uphold and reflect the values of the Olympic community, which resonate deeply with many, is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for any city. We know that English will be a cornerstone of the moment. There’s much we can contribute. How will you play a part?
The Tokyo Olympics 2020 Task Force
Leading the charge for the English-speaking community to play a role in preparation for the Games, the Tokyo Olympics 2020 Task Force is a proactive coalition of multicultural individuals who combine their collective skills to forge alliances with the official organizations to help the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics become the Gold benchmark to which all future Olympics will aspire.
You can join the group on LinkedIn by visiting http://meturl.com/totf.