The rose-gold, cherry blossom-shaped Olympic torch was lit on 25th of March at the J-Village sports complex in Fukushima and reached its final destination, the National Stadium in Tokyo, where the opening ceremony of the sports event was held.
“This little flame has never lost hope and it waited for this day like a cherry blossom bud just about to bloom", commented Olympic Committee chairwoman Seiko Hashimoto.
In fact, the current Olympics were originally scheduled in July and August 2020, but had to be postponed by one year due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Tokyo is without a doubt an unprecedented edition, which is already making headlines for all the novelties and curiosities characterizing it and distinguishing it from the past Olympic games.
Let’s discover them together.
New disciplines in Tokyo 2020
The most important news of this edition of the Olympic Games undoubtedly concerns the sports as there are five new Olympic sports in which athletes from all over the world will compete.
While martial arts such as judo, boxing and wrestling have been part of the Olympic Games for decades, karate will enter the Olympic disciplines in Tokyo 2020 for the very first. This is an important innovation for the Land of the Rising Sun, especially if we think that it is a form of martial combat art that has Japanese origins. Specifically, there are two disciplines present this year in Tokyo: Kata, which focuses on defensive movements and consists of a series of combinations made by the karateka without an opponent, and Kumite, which is instead characterized by the presence of two athletes who aim to hit certain areas of the opponent’s body.
In contrast to traditional climbing, sport climbing relies on permanent anchors placed on the wall to climb, which may be natural or artificial. This sport will make its debut at Tokyo 2020 Olympics with three specialties, that are Lead, Speed and Boulder. In Lead, the climber scales walls characterized by obstacles of increasing difficulty, with the aim of reaching the highest possible point in a maximum time of 6 minutes; the aim of Speed is to climb a 15-metre wall in the shortest possible time; Boulder mode involves climbing without a rope or harness and an irregular and complex route to overcome to reach the top of the wall.
Sport climbing is a discipline that requires training of three types of strength: fast/explosive strength, maximum strength of isolated muscle groups and endurance strength.
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This sport was born in California in the 1950s as a substitute for surfing in the event of calm seas and, from this year, will be an Olympic discipline in its own right. For its debut in Tokyo, 80 athletes and two different specialties are expected: Street, in which the skater competes on a straight path with obstacles such as benches, kerbs and walls, and Park, which instead involves a course made up of curves and climbs, where the skater can build up speed and jump to considerable heights.
It also becomes part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic sports officially. Having rejected the option of an artificial pool, competition will take place at Tsurigasaki beach, around 100 km from the Tokyo Olympic Stadium, and surfers will be assessed on speed, power and flow.
Surfing is an extremely demanding sport that requires excellent basis athletic skills such as strength, endurance and power. Athletic performance training, therefore, plays a key role for the surfer and his performance results.
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Baseball e softball
For these two sports, we are talking about a return rather than a new entry. Baseball had already joined the Olympic sports in 1992 in Barcellona, and softball in 1996 in Atlanta. However, both were cancelled after Beijing 2008 and will return officially in Tokyo 2020, chosen by the organizing committee thanks to their popularity in Japan.
The choice of the logo for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was not an easy one: initially, after looking at more than 14,600 designs, the IOC chose Kenjiro Sano’s logo. However, shortly after the official presentation, Belgian designer Oliviere Debie accused the artist of plagiarizing the logo he had created for the Théatre de Liège in Belgium.
Following the serious accusations, the committee decided to opt for a new logo and the choice fell on the Harmonized Checkered Emblem, designed by Aso Tokolo. A checkered motif known as ichimatsu moyo and inspired by the Edo period (1603-1868), one of Japan’s most important historical eras.
The logo was created using three different shades of blue, a color that expresses the elegance and the refinement of the Land of the Rising Sun, and three types of rectangular shapes to evoke the harmony between different countries.
Explaining its choice, The International Olympic Committee said that this logo “represents different countries, cultures and ways of thinking. It embodies the message of unity in diversity”.
“More youthful, more urban and more women”
Tokyo 2020 takes a further step forward previous editions, introducing youth and urban innovations and significantly improving gender equality. Indeed, the International Olympic Committee has proudly declared that this year’s Olympic Games will be “more youthful, more urban and will include more women”. To be precise, the one that has just started is the most gender balanced edition in the history of the Olympics, with female participation corresponding to 48.8%.