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Preview: 2020 Tokyo Olympics
By Yoon Ji-yeon Cub Reporter, Freshman of Electrical Engineering
The Olympics, which are held once every four years, are coming back. The 2016 Olympic Games were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and now, the 2020 Olympics will be held in Tokyo, Japan. July 24th to August 9th, 2020 will be a passionate time. Before then, let’s take time to learn about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The symbols of the Tokyo Olympics
The Olympic emblem is called the face of the Olympic Games. The emblem shows the individuality of the host country. Tokyo’s Olympic emblem embodies the traditional check pattern of the Edo period. It is called いちまつもよう [市松模様] in Japanese. The pattern has tetragons of various shapes and sizes in the color navy blue, which is the traditional color of Japan. Each tetragon represents the thoughts and cultures of different countries, and the overall round shape symbolizes the diversity and harmony of countries.
Also, the Olympic and Paralympic mascots were created based on the emblem. The Olympic mascot’s name is “Miraitowa.” This name was formed from the words “future (未来,)” and “eternity (永遠)” in Japanese. The Paralympic mascot’s name is “Someity.” This name comes from “So Mighty” in English and the pronunciation of cherry blossoms in Japanese and the pink pattern of Someity is similar to the flower.
Special sports events of the Tokyo Olympics
In 2017, the executive committee of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed 33 sports entries that are going to be held at the Tokyo Olympics. This means these games will have the most diverse sporting events in Olympic history. This is because of the rule change which allows the organizing committee of the host venue to choose up to 5 sports.
The five sports that were added on the organizing committee’s recommendation are Baseball & Softball, Karate, Sport climbing, Surfing, and Skateboarding. Let’s check the story behind these selections and these sports.
Baseball & Softball
Baseball and Softball will come back after 12 years. The International Baseball Federation and International Softball Federation united as the World Baseball Softball Confederation to have men’s baseball and women’s softball be selected as Olympic sports. This effort combined with the popularity of baseball in Japan, so it was registered as a sporting event for the Tokyo Olympics.
Softball is a sport played by women that is based on baseball. So, the game rules of the two sports are very similar. The game is played by two teams, and they switch between offense and defense. If a batter walks home through first, second, and third base, she will score. However, while baseball is played for nine innings, softball plays for seven innings. Also, there are some differences in equipment, like the larger ball and shorter bat.
Karate is a traditional Japanese sport. This is Karate’s first time becoming an Olympic sport. This sport was selected because of the organizing committee’s recommendation. Karate has two kinds of game rules. One is Kata, these are a series of offensive and defensive movements targeting a virtual opponent. The other is Kumite. In Kumite, two players face each other and attack using their hands and joints. But a karateka, a practitioner of karate, must stop his or her attack before hitting their competitor. Otherwise, the karateka who attacked their competitor gets a penalty.
Sport climbing will make its debut in the Tokyo Olympics. Sport climbing is divided into three categories. First is speed climbing, in which climbers compete on the same course and their climbing time is ranked. Second is lead climbing which is a competition to climb as high as possible in a given time. Third is bouldering in which climbers have multiple attempts to reach the top of a boulder. Their score is based on how well they can reach the top, then also on how successfully each attempt has been made.
Each athlete competes in all three categories, and the final ranking is determined by the total score of the three categories.
Surfing is one of the sports that is popular with young people. The Tokyo Olympics will be the debut of surfing as an Olympic sport. Surfing is distinguished by the size of the board, using a longboard or shortboard. But, only the shortboard will be used in the Tokyo Olympics.
Surfing is scored in a complex process. The winners are determined with scoring based on the type and difficulty of performance and skills, along with speed, power, and flow. Five referees score the surfer’s performances. Each surfer’s highest and lowest scores are excluded, and the average of the remainder is their score. This process is similar to the figure skating scoring process.
Skateboarding is also debuting in the Tokyo Olympics as a sport. Skateboarding has two detailed events. First is street which is held on a straight course featuring stairs, handrails, curbs, benches, walls and slopes. Second is park which is held on a hollowed-out course that looks like dome-shaped bowls. This course features a series of complicated curves. All participants must show their various skills and tricks. Evaluation considers the degree of difficulty of the tricks, height, speed, originality and the composition of moves.
Surfing and Skateboarding have a special point of sameness. After confirming that surfing and skateboarding were selected as Olympic events, the sports community had a cold reaction. This is because surfing and skateboarding have long been considered as an act of self-expression. So, many surfers and skateboarders didn’t regard them as competitive sports. This recognition even made some people file an online petition with antipathy.
Will the Tokyo Olympics be a safe Olympics?
The Olympics is a festival of people from all around the world. Every four years, people all over the world spend time in front of the TV or visiting the stadium to cheer for their athletes. But, there is a big issue that has been pointed out since 2013 when Tokyo was confirmed as the venue for the 2020 Olympics. That is “radioactivity.”
In 2011, a huge earthquake hit Japan and cracked a nuclear power plant causing an explosion. This leaked a large amount of radioactive material. This was a major accident (the highest level) on the International Nuclear Event Scale, and this level was the same as the Chernobyl disaster. Although it’s been nine years since then, the danger of contamination continues.
The biggest worry is using materials from Fukushima. As 70% of Fukushima is a mountainous area and it is hard to clean polluted soil, experts say most of the trees are still polluted. However, Fukushima timbers were used to build the village plaza that will be used for athletes’ rest. Their intention was to wish for the revival of the disaster areas. Japan’s Forestry Agency said it would be safe because they got rid of the timber’s bark and they went through the process of measuring for radioactivity. However, reporting by foreign press revealed the measuring process was too sloppy, and criticism of safety has continued.
Also, some stadiums are located near Fukushima. A typical case is the Fukushima Azuma stadium where the baseball and softball events will be held. This stadium is only 67 kilometers away from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. In addition, black bags of polluted soil near the stadium were seen through satellite imagery in July 2018. This caused concern about visitors’ possible radioactive exposure and many people were shocked.
IOC stated the stadiums near Fukushima are safe and they don’t have any plans to change location. However, the radioactive measurement of the stadium was about 0.5μ μSv/h which is more than twice the safety standard (0.23 μSv/h). Doubts about whether the stadium is safe to hold Olympic events have been discussed, and 23 organizations from around the world have joined a group that has renamed the games “Tokyo 2020 – the radioactive Olympics.”
The Tokyo Olympics have caused these concerns. The main purpose of the Olympics is peace. In addition, safety is another main value that is in the spotlight. I hope the value of peace will continue to thrive and that there’s no threat to anyone’s safety.