Tokyo: The 2020 Olympic Vision

Sept. 29, 2014

The 2020 Tokyo summer Olympics: Let the games begin.

The buildup to hosting the 2020 summer games has been under way ever since Tokyo won the bid as host city last fall, beating out fellow finalist cities Istanbul and Madrid.

Now the race is on to get ready, and even with six years to plan, a host city needs to get its act together or suffer the consequences. Just ask Sochi.

As part of the unfolding Tokyo 2020 buildup, I am one of six journalists from around the world who will be spending the month of October in the Japanese capital, at the invitation of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The Dateline Tokyo fellowship program will invite a new set of journalists each year heading into 2020.

The idea is to get journalists researching, reporting, and writing about Tokyo as it prepares for its place in the international spotlight and its role as host – which includes preparedness in transportation, infrastructure, sports facilities, and the hospitality industry, including hotels, food, entertainment, and all other aspects of tourism readiness.

We, the Dateline Tokyo crew, will be reporting on the preparedness of Tokyo, and the rest of Japan, to play host.

Japan has its fair share of challenges, including an economy eclipsed by neighbor and once-rival China that is still recovering from a decade of stagflation and the 3/11/2011 Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear Crisis (the Japanese refer to the 3/11 tragedy in tones that echo the pain felt by Americans over 9/11).

We will be reporting on the shaping of the 2020 Olympics: Will the games include baseball? Will a new National Stadium be built in time? Will Tokyo’s cabbies learn English as they are being urged? Will the Olympics be smoke-free? (On that last point, Tokyo received a $1 million sponsorship from an official Olympics-branded cigarette when the city first hosted the summer Olympics in 1964, and Japan today remains one of the world’s largest tobacco markets.)

We will be reporting, too, on what it’s like to spend time in the world’s largest metropolitan area – since an untold number of visitors are expected to descend upon Tokyo just for the 2020 games alone. Which is exactly what Tokyo wants you to do.

And if you’re one of the lucky ones who can attend in 2020, where are the best places to eat, drink, and sleep? The world will be watching as Tokyo races to get ready.

Some host cities win the buildup that precedes the Olympics, like Barcelona, which made lasting improvements to its infrastructure and quality of life. Others turn out not to be ready for prime time such as Sochi, or face criticism for wasting precious public resources on a vanity project as Brazil did when hosting the World Cup.

Stay tuned, and we’ll keep you informed on the race to 2020.

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