Our Message to the World - from the Team Behind the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games

With the closing of Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, life is now back to how it was before the Games. During the Games, athletes from around the world competed as the world cheered them on passionately, but what endures after the cheers dim away? Here are the behind-the-scenes stories from the team behind it all.

Running the show when things change by the seconds.

"It is imperative to explain to the world what Tokyo 2020 has brought about. Even now, there is still more work on correlating the overall achievement after the Games have closed" said Tanaka Akira, the Senior Director for Planning Promotion, Bureau of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Paralympic Games Preparation, Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

From before the Games opened, the pressure was enormous with the unprecedented postponement of the Games and the rampant COVID-19 pandemic. With a situation that was changing by the seconds, Tanaka's main focus was on how to provide accurate and appropriate information about the Games to the public.

On top of that, due to the decision of making Tokyo 2020 the first-ever no-live-spectator Olympics, the volunteers, "City Casts", who were originally assigned to provide audience guidance around the venues are now no longer needed. This change led to great anxiety around the situation on site. Thanks to the help and blessings from the volunteers, all went smoothly.


"Starting from the online guidance, we listened to the opinions and voices of the volunteers on how they believe their new role could be. This enabled us to put together a new plan within such time constraints. I believe that we owe our success of hosting the Game to the strong sentiment and devotion of our volunteers."

What legacy will Tokyo 2020 leave behind?

"Members of City Cast range across all ages and genders and worked together regardless of having disabilities or not. And it is for this reason, Tokyo 2020 is reckoned as having achieved great diversity."

At Tokyo 2020, the three core concepts of "Striving for your personal best" (Achieving Personal Best), "Accepting one another" (Unity in Diversity), and "Passing on Legacy for the future" (Connecting to Tomorrow) were the key catalyst in changing people's view on social diversity and minority. Even behind the scene, there was great consideration put into creating conditions that are convenient to the volunteers, such as coordination of assigned venues, location, and activity times.

Tanaka carries on, highlighting that it's not only people's perception that has changed.

"In preparation for the Games, the streets have also evolved into a place where anyone can feel welcomed. The plan to eliminate steps around the venues and public transportation have been put in place, aimed at making the area barrier-free and bringing positive effect on the city of Tokyo."

Furthermore, the initiatives of hosting several tournaments in regions previously hit by natural disasters such as the Great East Japan Earthquake, sourcing the ingredients for Olympic Village meals from areas recovering from the natural disasters, and the "Tokyo 2020 Medal Project" where the Athlete medals are made from recycled mobile phone parts, are all part of the effort in showcasing and leading in diversity, as well as technology.

"We have also set up 5G-operated robots for students of schools with special needs. It allowed them to have a spectator experience as if they were at the venue in person, even in this COVID-19 situation."


With the one-year postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Games, work was needed to reduce the cost. It was crucial for Tanaka to scrutinize the legacy that a no-live-spectator Tokyo 2020 Games will leave behind. It was not only the athletes and the spectators, but it was also the management team behind the Tokyo 2020 and citizens of Japan whose way of living and working were forced to change and adapt to such special circumstances. Tanaka hopes the lessons and experiences learned from Tokyo hosting the Games amidst a pandemic could be put into good use for future Games.

"Tokyo 2020 broke the record for having the largest group of LGBTQ athletes participating. From the effort of creating a barrier-free city in both hard and soft infrastructure to the promotion of Parasports, people working in and beyond the Games have all come together as one for Tokyo 2020, making it a diversity enriching event. I believe the safe and secure operation of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games would not have been possible without the support and cooperation of Tokyo citizens, volunteers, and involved parties. It is imperative to leverage this experience for future development, which will become part of the Tokyo 2020 legacy."

Tanaka Akira
(Senior Director for Planning Promotion,
Bureau of Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 Preparation)

Since joining the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in 1989, Tanaka has served the Tokyoites as Director for Tourism Division in Bureau of Industrial and Labor Affairs, Senior Director for Bureau of Urban Development, Senior Director for coordination in Bureau of Port and Harbor. In 2015, Tanaka became the Senior Director for Operations in Bureau of Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 Preparation and then his current role in 2019, in charge of overall planning and coordination of Tokyo 2020 Games.