With the new year of 2019 comes the reality that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are only a year (and a bit) away. For fans of anime, Japanophiles, sports fans, and especially baseball fans, there’s a lot about the Tokyo 2020 games to be excited for. Not least being that we can go visit Japan and go to see the Olympic games at the same time. For some people, that’s a couple of ticks off the bucket list in one trip.
Tokyo is hosting the 2020 Olympic Summer games in 2020, and like any country hosting the Olympics, it is going to be drawing a lot of attention. While being from Canada means the Winter games have a special place in my heart, and it’s always cool to see the Jamaican bobsled team competing, it’s just a fact that the Summer games are more accessible. Humans that live in the few places on Earth that don’t experience a nice summer can play many of the sports enjoyed at the Summer games indoors, and most of us (even from the frozen wastes of Canada) get a few months to live and play outdoors.
The Summer Games are going to draw people from all over the world to Tokyo, and Japan is getting ready. There’s already an effort to phase out Japanese squat toilets, but there’s a lot more to it than preparing bathrooms, however regularly the Olympics leads to bathroom innovation.
Along with the bathrooms, Japan is revamping its train infrastructure in time for the games, with their new Shinkansen trains coming into service in 2020, and a record-breaking, magnetically levitated train being debuted. The magnetic train is, for all purposes, a hover-train — not touching anything lets it ignore friction — though not in the uncontrolled way that an icy road does (which I just can’t escape right now, it’s cold outside). Along with trains, stadiums and other venues are being built or renovated, like the National Olympic Stadium: a common cost that many cities find too expensive, especially for the more expensive Summer games: a consequence of being more accessible, and popular, than the Winter Games.
The summer of 2020 is expected, like every summer recently, to be very hot. As a result, Japan is taking a number of steps to combat the heat, including adjusting events like the marathon to maximize the amount of time the athletes spend outside while it’s cooler. However hot it actually ends up being, the expectation is that it will be among the hottest Olympic games ever. I for one aim to avoid too many outdoor events during the afternoon.
One of the more exciting elements about these games, especially for the Americans, and Japanese, is the re-introduction of baseball, and softball, as events. The two sports are not returning to the permanent roster, but in 2020 the U.S.A, and Japan will be able to show the world the joys of the game they both love. There’s some anticipation among fans of a certain samurai, hip-hop inspired, anime, to see America and Japan competing in a final baseball showdown. I do wonder if America can compete with Japan, or South Korea though, as there is no plan to let their best players participate, while Japan is putting its professional league on a break for the duration of the games. Of course, it’s possible the United States won’t even be able to send a team, having to qualify for a slot, something Japan doesn’t have to worry about thanks to hosting the games. While it seems unlikely that the country which invented the game wouldn’t even qualify, there would be a poetic quality to it for anime fans, who are used to not getting what they wish for (like any number of second seasons for great anime).
There’s a lot to be excited for with these Olympics. There is no city quite as iconic as Tokyo when it comes to the idea of Japan. It shares the same headspace in popular culture as London does for England, or Paris for France, and there’s something romantic about visiting this famously busy city at a time when it will be that much busier, that much more chaotic, and that much more directing its energy to welcome the world. The crowds of Tokyo are part of the charm, and there’s no time likely to be busier than an Olympic Summer games in the near future.
For people interested in tickets, there are recent reports that tickets will probably be going on sale in April, though that’s not certain, and tickets are expected to be sold exclusively online. If you want more information, the website Truly Tokyo outlines different prices for events, and links to a variety of information on places to stay, the venues, and even has an interactive district map. The opening ceremonies, in particular, look like they cost a LOT of money, and for anyone looking to attend on the cheap, I’d suggest skipping it, and enjoying it from your hotel. There’s also a strong temptation to fly in early, and go sightseeing through other parts of the country before the Olympics start, hopefully grabbing up some cheaper flights in. Instead of being distracted at work days before you fly to Japan for the Olympics, you can take extra time off, and distract yourself with tourism. Of course, leaving late would probably help with flight prices too. . .
Tokyo 2020 Mascots property of the: Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.