[Olympic Impressions] Spread Japanese culture to the world
The Tokyo Olympics were particularly exciting because they were taking place in a city that I know so well. Although things were starting to open up and other events were starting to happen, the Games had a chance to be the shining star of the summer, even more so than a typical Olympics.
While acknowledging that many people around the world were ー and still are ー facing difficult situations and simply struggling to survive, the Games provided a common goal for people around the world other than the pandemic.
This common goal has made Tokyo 2020 an even stronger unifying force than perhaps a typical Summer Olympics could, despite the issues, such as a lack of spectators or the heat, that may have surrounded the event. . It was inspiring to see the world tune in to Japanese culture before, during and even after the Games.
Of course, it was disappointing that the athletes didn’t have the chance to experience Japanese culture first-hand during their time here. At the same time, they were probably able to get a glimpse during their stay in the country. Here’s how.
The Closing Ceremony showed what the streets of Tokyo look like to athletes who would have been lucky enough to see it firsthand in non-COVID Games. The ceremony wasn’t able to encapsulate exactly what it would be like to walk the streets of Harajuku, for example, but it certainly expressed some of the usual vibrancy.
In addition, the elements of Japanese culture presented at the ceremony were encouraging. The traditional dance videos and the live Tokyo Ondo at the end were the perfect way to link the central Olympic theme of sport to culture.
It was heartwarming to see athletes from various countries try their hand at the Bon-Odori Japanese summer festival dance, which was a small way to catch up on other experiences they weren’t able to have during the pandemic. .
Many also posted photos and videos of the ceremony on social media, and from the posts, people around the world tuned in to these special cultural moments. This seemed particularly important because the ceremonial audience was a socially distant crowd of only some of the athletes competing in the Olympics.
It was also exciting to see the reactions on social media to the new sports and the athletes who took the opportunity to show their talents for the first time at the Olympics.
Younger viewers probably felt more connected to these new sports. Watching skateboarding, for example, I couldn’t help but imagine students on my college campus commuting to class with their skateboards. Wins and losses, the performances of the teenage athletes were incredibly inspiring.
It was also exciting to see that Japanese athletes performed well in popular sports with younger audiences. The traditional Olympic sports are certainly impressive, but the athletes of the new sports have indeed been showcasing their extraordinary feats alongside more relevant characteristics, like their clothes and relaxed attitudes while performing jaw-dropping tricks.
Moreover, the athletes participating in these new sports seemed particularly grateful to have the chance to compete on such a big stage.
The effects of the Olympics on Japan’s situation with COVID-19 are not yet entirely clear, and athletes have faced challenges during the Olympics, such as their isolation from the public. Nonetheless, they were also grateful for the chance to compete. As they left the country, many created posters or took to social media to echo the message that appeared at the end of the closing ceremony: Arigato.
Author: Serena Lander