Japan and its capital Tokyo are getting ready to welcome the world in 2020 for one of the greatest sporting events of all time: the Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games! Athletes, enthusiasts, the simply curious and journalists will meet for several weeks in the archipelago to taste the fraternal spirit of the Olympics and the glory of sport. From Friday 24 July to Sunday 9 August and from 25 August to 6 September, the eyes of the world will be on Japan, proud to host these Games, so emblematic, five decades after the last Japanese Summer Olympics in 1964.

A short history of the Modern Games

The history of the Games and sports competitions is by no means a recent one, with the first drafts dating back to antiquity, centuries before Christ. With the Tokyo 2020 Games fast approaching, it is the modern history of this unique sporting event that interests us here. The Olympic Games, in their modern form, date back to 1894, on June 23rd to be precise. On that day, delegates from nine countries founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Paris under the leadership of a certain Baron Pierre de Coubertin. The rebirth of the Olympic Games was underway. The first edition of these modern games was held in Greece, in Athens, in 1896. This event, far from the current scale and means, brought together 13 countries and just over 300 athletes for 9 disciplines. This edition marks the beginning of the era of modern games. With the exception of a few cancellations due to the two World Wars, the Olympic Games have been held every four years since 1896

Nowadays, the Olympic Games are watched by hundreds of millions of people around the world; in different cities, visitors of all nationalities are happy to gather around the values of Olympism and enjoy the spectacle. But for the spectators, the Games are also the stage for great moments such as the Opening Ceremony, the arrival of the Olympic flame and the medal ceremony, a sequence that is always full of strong emotions. The strength of the Olympic Games is also to bring together a rich range of disciplines, some of which receive little media coverage the rest of the time, and to organise the meeting of countries from the four corners of the world for face-to-face encounters that are often exhilarating and spectacular, always with respect for the opponents.

The values of Olympism

The Olympic and Paralympic Games convey a number of values, both on the field and in the stands. The Games are first and foremost mental and sporting values for all the athletes who compete in them. The Latin motto "Citius, Altius, Fortius", which means "faster, higher, stronger", and which is often wrongly attributed to Baron Pierre de Coubertin, promotes excellence and surpassing oneself, values that are required for all athletes aiming for greatness. For its part, the Olympic flame represents friendship and harmonious relations between the peoples and citizens of the world. The symbol of this famous flame, which travels through different countries in relays, is very significant. It conveys the idea of an event that brings people together and transcends borders.

The symbolism of the Olympic rings is also very important, especially with regard to respect and the fight against discrimination. These five intertwined rings in five different colours represent the union between the citizens of the five continents. The common interpretation of the colours attributes blue to Europe, yellow to Asia, black to Africa, green to Oceania and red to America. This interpretation is refuted by the institutions of the Games, because when Pierre de Coubertin created these rings in 1913, the five colours, as well as the white background, refer to the colours of the flags of all countries at that time. "These five rings represent the five parts of the world that have now become part of Olympism and are ready to accept its fertile rivalries. Moreover, the six colours thus combined reproduce those of all nations without exception," Pierre de Coubertin stated in the Olympic Review of August 1913. One thing is certain, these rings give pride of place to friendship between peoples and the unique spirit in the face of galloping nationalism

The archipelago and the Games

Between Japan and the Olympic and Paralympic Games, it's a beautiful love story that lasts. This noble relationship is even centuries old, with the Japanese Olympic Committee having been founded in 1911 and the country's first participation in the Games having taken place in 1912. Since then, Japan has only missed the event twice. In 1948, at the end of the Second World War, Japan was not invited to participate in the Games. And in 1980, the country decided, like many others, to follow the boycott, launched by the United States, of the first Russian Games to protest against the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 by Soviet troops

The relationship between Japan and the Olympic Games is not limited to mere participation. The archipelago, which is preparing to host the next Games in Tokyo, is not at its first attempt. The 1964 Summer Olympics were held in the Japanese capital and the 1972 and 1998 Winter Olympics in Sapporo and Nagano respectively. In terms of overall results, Japan is consistently at the top of the league in terms of sports results and medals. In Rio, for example, for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, Japan finished 6th, one place ahead of France, for a total of 41 medals, including 12 gold. Japanese athletes will therefore be keen to multiply their performances in front of their public in 2020 in Tokyo. The Japanese capital has known since 2013, and its election as host city ahead of Istanbul and Madrid, that it will host these Games, which means it can prepare well in advance. The indigo blue checkerboard patterns of the logos for this 2020 edition characterise the archipelago by their elegance and refinement. Their message thus gives pride of place to unity and diversity, once again under the theme of the values dear to Olympism

Tokyo 2020 on the horizon

Behind the scenes, Tokyo is in turmoil, taking its time and regularly distilling a variety of information to keep the audience connected. Very attached to this participation, Japan tries by all means to mark the history of the Games with a white stone. Spectators at the Rio Games will remember the appearance of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, dressed as Super Mario, in the Maracana stadium to celebrate the relay between Brazil and Japan. The sequence of events, which was very well relayed, showed the world that Japan was committed to making these Games unique. A number of technological innovations will also be present at this edition, reflecting the country's desire to offer the most innovative Olympic Games in history. Among the highlights is facial recognition technology, which will allow the identity of athletes, officials, staff and others to be quickly verified at checkpoints. 5G will also be installed in 2020 to provide faster connections and thus replace the need for risky connection attempts at events with large numbers of spectators. During the Games, VR (Virtual Reality) technology will also be deployed during certain events, including the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, to provide visitors with memorable experiences. The list is long and it is definitely a source of pride for the Games organisers.

Now the question arises of access to the 339 events of these Games, spread over 33 sports. How do you access the grail that a ticket represents? A stressful and always somewhat complex situation that, once again, will be no different in 2020. Pre-registration and draw phases have already taken place, since 2019, for residents of Japan who wish to access the Olympic ticketing system. For foreign visitors, the first solution is therefore to contact official authorised resellers who offer tickets, depending on the category of the events, and more complete services including air transport, for example. A final phase, open to all, is also scheduled for the spring, on a first come, first served basis. You will then have to go to the official Olympic ticketing website. In any case, to avoid any unpleasant surprises, the black market is, as always, to be avoided

Smart info

When? The Olympic Games will take place from 24 July to 9 August 2020.

Getting there. Count about 13 hours for a direct flight between Paris and Tokyo.

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