Where EAST meets the Northwest
OLYMPIC COUNTDOWN. Karate athlete Kiyo Shimizu, top photo, performs during a
celebration to mark 500 days to go until the Tokyo Olympics, in Tokyo.
Organizers marked the milestone by unveiling the stylized pictogram figures for
the event. In the bottom photo, Rio Olympics silver medallist Shota Iizuka, top
center left, karate athlete Shimizu, top center right, and elementary school
students pose with the new 2020 Olympic pictograms. (AP Photos/Koji Sasahara)
From The Asian Reporter, V29, #06 (March 18, 2019), page 8.
Tick tock, tick tock: Tokyo Olympics clock hits 500-day mark
By Stephen Wade
AP Sports Writer
TOKYO — Tick tock, tick tock. The Tokyo Olympic clock has hit 500 days to go.
Organizers marked the milestone last week, unveiling the stylized pictogram
figures for next year’s Tokyo Olympics. The pictogram system was first used
extensively in 1964 when the Japanese capital last hosted the Summer Olympics —
just 19 years after the end of World War II.
A picture system to illustrate sports events was used in the 1936 Berlin
Olympics, and 12 years later in London. Other Olympics sporadically used some
drawings for the same purpose.
But the ’64 Olympics originated the standardized symbols that have become
familiar in every Olympics since.
Japanese athletes posed with the pictograms and their designer, Masaaki
Hiromura. Organizers also toured regions that will host Olympic events,
including the area north of Tokyo that was devastated by the 2011 earthquake and
tsunami that resulted in damage to nearby nuclear reactors.
"They are simple but yet dynamic," Hiromura said, explaining his designs to
several hundred people. "These are pictograms that look like they are about to
Hiromura designed 50 pictograms for 33 sports. Some sports will use more than
one pictogram when the Olympics open on July 24, 2020.
The ’64 Tokyo Olympics came up with the pictograms, partly because the games
were the first in Asia and held in a country where the language was inaccessible
to many international visitors.
Unlike other recent Olympics, construction projects are largely on schedule.
The new National Stadium, the centerpiece of the games, is to be completed by
the end of the year at a cost estimated at $1.25 billion.
That’s not to say these Olympics are problem free.
Costs continue to rise, although local organizers and the International
Olympic Committee (IOC) say they are cutting costs — or at least slowing the
As an example, last month organizers said the cost of the opening and closing
ceremonies had risen by 40 percent compared with the forecast in 2013 when Tokyo
was awarded the games.
Overall, Tokyo is spending at least $20 billion to host the Olympics. About
75 percent of this is public money, although costs are difficult to track with
arguments over what are — and what are not — Olympic expenses. That figure is
about three times larger than the bid forecast in 2013.
Tsunekazu Takeda, the president of the Japanese Olympic Committee (IOC) and a
powerful International Olympic Committee member, is also being investigated in a
vote-buying scandal that may have helped Tokyo land the Olympics.
Takeda has denied wrongdoing and has not resigned from any of his positions
with the IOC or in Japan.
He is up for re-election to the Japanese Olympic Committee this summer and
could face pressure to step aside.
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