Tag Archives: Tokyo 2020

Tokyo 2020: nine days to go

14 July, 2021

As athletes start arriving in Toyko, perhaps you can spare a tiny thought for this man; Kazunori Takishima, who has an Olympic dream of setting a world record of attending the most Olympic events ever. He had spent nearly $40k on a hundred Tokyo 2020 tickets, saving and scheming for years. Of course, he now can’t go to any of them:

And nor can anyone else. Because, on the 8th July a committee decided that no-one would be allowed to attend any Olympic events without accreditation. At a stroke, it destroyed the last hope that this Games would be any kind of ‘normal’. Without fans, it reinforces the feeling that this Games is a contractual obligation. It also risks turning off the casual Olympics fan whose eyeballs ultimately pay for the whole thing via the TV advertising and broadcast revenue.

Fair enough, you might say, given that Tokyo is once again under a state of emergency until the middle of August. But the restrictions are and have been relatively light compared to the lockdowns seen in much else of the Western world. It was hoped that some fans could attend some of the events outside Tokyo – then that idea got squished as well.

Numerous large scale outdoor sporting events have taken place this spring and summer without (apparently) spiking coronavirus cases; the Superbowl, Wimbledon and the European Championships to name but a few (although given the scenes at Wembley on Sunday, the jury is probably still out on what virus-spiking damage a nearly full stadium of Brits can do).

Other sporting events in Japan are going ahead with spectators. J-League football matches are going ahead in other parts of Japan, and playoffs apparently continue throughout the Games. One of the major Sumo tournaments is going on right now, as of this writing, in Nagoya – in a numbers-restricted indoor arena. Another major sumo championships is scheduled for Tokyo in September.

Baseball is going ahead right now, and a situation has arisen with well-known Dominican-Japanese hitter Cristopher Mercedes, who plays for Tokyo team Yomiuri Giants, and who has been named to the Dominican Republic team for the Olympic Games. You can go and see him play with his team in Tokyo this season, but you can’t go and see him play for his country at the Olympics, down the road in Yokohama, in a week or two.

The blanket ban on spectators at all venues seems like it need an explanation, but the organisers would only say that it was a ‘very special’ situation, where crowds would be expected to both socialise and congregate afterwards. This is apparently on the recommendation of the government’s public health adviser Dr. Omi, although the full reasons remain opaque:

Increasingly, it feels like the Japanese government are holding the event at arms length. Opinion polls have consistently shown the public is deeply concerned about holding the games, and a loud media seems to continually suggest that they are inviting people from all over the world to bring variants of the coronavirus to their islands. (The incredibly draconian policies developed to stop this happening do not appear to have made it to the front pages, and a current estimate suggests that 80-90% of the overseas visitors to Japan will be vaccinated, as opposed to around 25% of the Japanese population. It seems to have led to awkward situations like this one.)

The Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga’s handling of the pandemic (including a now-famously slow vaccination rollout) has eroded his public support, and there are leadership races and an election imminent. The government had long seen the Olympics as a chance to display Japan’s recovery from the devastating 2011 earthquake and nuclear crisis. With a pandemic still raging and Japan ‘holding the baby’, it almost feels like it has decided to get the whole thing out of the way as quietly and painlessly as possible with as much support as it can muster.

It should be noted that Monday on Japanese Twitter, the phrase, “Anyone but LDP or Komeito” was trending, referring to voting for any political parties other than the ruling Liberal Democratic Party or their coalition partner, the Komeito, in the coming parliamentary election. It seems that few of the Japanese public are happy about how this year has turned out, but this is where we are at.

The prospect of a ‘ghost’ Games in Tokyo is a dramatic and dark turn in the history of the event. Full venues have been at the centre of all the iconic moments in Olympic history, and who knows what is around the corner.

The Korea Archery Association continues their all-out social media assault; this time forcing the six Olympic athletes through media training, and, for some reason, filming it. All of them look like they’d rather be pulling out their toenails that doing it.

The same video is notable for coach Park Chaesoon’s extraordinary mask chains, which give him an unexpectedly cyberpunk look. Hey, if it works for him. (Lots of other interesting videos here)

An interesting documentary for Olympics fans is coming out in a few days, retelling the story of the ‘Oriental Witches’ of the 1964 Games; one of the canonical tales from that competition. It looks well worth a look:

Finally, YouGov threw up a fascinating tidbit about British people gambling during the Olympics. Archery gets a mention, too.

According to their data, 9% of British adults will place some kind of wager on the Olympics. (I make that around 4.5 million people. Seems like a lot.) Of that number:

Punters appear to be most likely to bet on events such as track and field (49%), football (49%), boxing (31%), tennis (28%), and gymnastics (20%). Other events that will draw gamblers include swimming (18%), basketball (15%), cycling (15%), badminton (8%), diving (7%), weightlifting (6%), table tennis (6%) and volleyball or beach volleyball (6%), archery (3%) and baseball (3%). 

Three percent? I crunch that as 135,000 UK adults will be betting on the archery during the Games? Really? If you’re planning on sticking some money down, let me know…

Tokyo: 17 days to go

5 July, 2021

Reena Parnat just snuck onto the Tokyo roster.

Going through the looking glass again. 500 personnel for the Olympics arrived in Tokyo on the first official day (July 1st), and luckily, not a COVID case has been detected among them.

ITG broke down the key numbers:

“A total of 78,000 people are expected to enter Japan for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. This would include 59,000 people for the Olympics, compared to the expected 180,000 from last year. The number will include 23,000 Games-related officials, including from the International Olympic Committee and International Federations. Olympic Broadcast Services representatives and rights-holders account for 17,000 people during the Olympics, with 6,000 members of the media expected. Around 19,000 people are expected for the Paralympic Games, including 9,000 officials, 4,000 for broadcast and 2,000 media.”

That’s a lot of people who you hope have all passed their tests, had their jabs, and not picked up any ‘rona on the plane. But as with the unfortunate guys from Uganda last time, it at least proves that so far the system is working, even if the goal is essentially to isolate the Games as far from the Japanese public as possible.

Where athletes and journos won’t be going. Photo: Unsplash

A senior journo from the Association of International Sports Journalists has pushed back against the particularly draconian measures for the press:

“The people of Japan must not see us as an enemy bringing coronavirus,” Merlo said today at an event marking World Sports Journalists Day.

“We are coming not to destroy, but to bring a message of hope.

“The big danger is that this kind of campaign is putting the foreigners going there as infectors so people will be afraid of us and this can sometimes cause us a problem.”

Merlo described some of the measures as “the most crazy instructions we have had in our lives”.

“It is important we begin to discuss with the organisers in a kind way, because we understand their mind, we understand how difficult it is for them but we have to find a solution together, if possible a human solution because I cannot believe that the hospitality of Japan is this way.

“It is a special occasion but we are not at war.”

Journalists travelling to the Olympics Games will be confined to hotels for the first three days and restricted to a carefully ordained itinerary for the first 14.

“In some ways we are exactly a kind of prisoner at home,” Claimed Merlo.

He also warned: “In some ways, they are asking the population of Japan to spy on everyone.

“This is not acceptable.”

The Tokyo 2020 organisers have also delayed making a decision on whether spectators will be allowed in venues, pending COVID data. (The decision was originally scheduled for today.) There was a plan for a lottery system todetermine which ticketholders can attend the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as well as sessions in eight sports (not including our thing). Some have suggested up to 40% of sessions would not have spectators. It is not clear which sports will get shafted.

The decision followed the easing of state of emergency measures, with the Japanese Government allowing sporting events to be held with capacities limited to either 50 per cent or a maximum of 10,000 people – but we’re not out of the woods yet. A Games without any spectators whatsoever will be a difficult sell both to the stakeholders and the rest of the world.

The Netherlands Sjef van den Berg has confirmed previous hints that he is set to retire after Tokyo 2020, citing ongoing medical issues and a general dissatisfaction with the life of a professional archer.

As he told World Archery:

Sjef is relatively young to knock the professional sport on the head, although there are quite a few older archers in the peloton who seem likely to be making this Games their last.

Four quota places in archery got reassigned after some archers failed to make the minimum qualifying score , and giving Malaysia a dangerous (maybe) mixed team. Reena Parnat of Estonia (pictured top) grabbed one of the places.

New Zealand also returned their single women’s place, a few weeks after returning their single men’s place. If they’re not going to send their athletes to the Games, why do they even send them to qualifying competitions that award places? Seems like a recipe for bad feeling all-round.

The wider world of Olympic sport was much more focused on the one-month ban handed out to US sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson for testing positive for cannabis at the US Olympic trials and the banning by FINA of the Soul Cap for Olympic competition – currently under review, apparently. (The Soul Cap is legal for competition in England and elsewhere). Both of them touch on much wider, more complicated issues, and are exactly the sort of thing that needs to be faced directly if the Olympic movement is not to start losing goodwill all over the world.

Over in the tennis world, Australian Nick Kyrgios has signalled his intentions that if the Olympics isn’t what he thinks is should be, he’s not going to bother:

While the Aussie Olympic committee has backed him, for me, this smacks of an insult to other Australian Olympians (and indeed, all others) who might have worked their entire lives to make a Games and represent their country. With tennis, an Olympic gold is broadly considered the equivalent to winning a Grand Slam title – but no more than that. The Olympics is just a thing that happens and you don’t get paid for in the lucrative professional tennis world.

Photo: the Guardian

Whatever will transpire in Tokyo, the sporting competition will still be the Olympics, and will still – we all hope – be the best in the world versus the best in the world. The wider circus, much diminished, will be a lesser part of it this time around, and there will be less people to flatter the egos of people like Nick Kyrgios. (In Rio, several golfers pulled out citing the damp squib that was the Zika threat, pouring fuel on the fire of opinion that states that if the Olympic isn’t the pinnacle of your sport (like archery) then it probably shouldn’t be there.)

Krygios isn’t not the only tennis player to give Tokyo the swerve. Serena Williams has pulled out without giving reasons (although they are thought to be related to her being unable to bring her family), and Rafael Nadal has also pulled out, citing the need to extend his career. (The courts in Tokyo are hard and fast DecoTurf, and wouldn’t suit his game very well. If Rafa can keep going until Paris 2024, he might just be fit enough to play at the courts in Roland Garros, long the site of his greatest successes). So perhaps the secret is just… keeping your mouth shut?

Canadian archer and 2020 Olympian Stephanie Barrett is the subject of a lively piece on fantasy and archery in the local press.

Deepika Kumari was given some local government cash for her amazing performance at the World Cup in Paris, as was her coach and the rest of her team. 50 lakh works out to about £48,500 it seems. That’s a nice treat for the summer.

For Tokyo medals, they have promised her two crore for gold (about £200k), one crore for silver (£100k) and 75 lakh for bronze. (£72k). All about them Benjamins.

And Kang Chae Young (for it is she) put in an 698 in practice (six points above the world record, set by her in 2019). Although the web community was pretty critical of the way she filled out her scorecard. 🤣

More soon.

Tokyo 2020 logos: still some work to do?

14 April, 2016

Original logo designer Kenjiro Sano. Pic via Inside The Games.

Last year a furore erupted over the logo design for the Tokyo 2020 games, which was eventually withdrawn over claims that it had been plagiarised. I retain a sneaking suspicion that it was withdrawn not because it infringed the copyright of an obscure Belgian theatre company, but because it was really, really awful.  I wrote a longish, ranty blog post about exactly why so in July last year.

Certainly the glare of public opinion was not kind, but the London 2012 logo received similar levels of stick, and they stuck that one out. Given the loss of face involved – a huge deal in Japan – the decision to yank it must have been agonising.

Since that debacle, the organising committee held an open public competition to design a new pair of logos for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Anyone resident in Japan could enter, and nearly 15,000 people did. The four finalists, all currently anonymous, are below.

The reaction from Japan’s design community to the finalist designs has been spectacularly sniffy and condescending:

“Public submission seems more fair than a designer or agency picked by an elite, but the overall result will probably lack quality,” said Benjamin Thomas of Tokyo-based Bento Graphics, who said the logos on the shortlist fail to “immediately visually explain their concept”.

Another Tokyo-based designer, Ian Lynam of Ian Lynam Design, said the logos were “unprofessional in terms of structure, form and execution” and were more akin to “cartoons or caricatures”.

Designer Keiko Hirano said: “We must not fail to recognise that once again, the renewed competition will not be a reflection of the consensus of the Japanese people.”

Art director and the chairman of Japan Graphic Designers Association, Katsumi Asaba, told Sports Hochi said he preferred Sano’s effort as the new contenders were of a “really low level of design”.

This, of course, came hot on the heels of another, even bigger design row over the main Olympic stadium involving the late architect Zaha Hadid. After that, the organising committee made it very clear that they expected ‘Japanese-ness’ to be a big part of any design elements that were facing the public.

So here they are. What do you think? Personally I think that one is a lot stronger than the others. There’s a poll at the bottom. Choose one and let me know. Add a comment, why dontcha? And you can stick your oar in directly to the organisers here.

UPDATE: April 25th – the results are in:  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/04/25/national/checkered-pattern-chosen-as-official-logo-for-2020-tokyo-olympic-games/



A. Harmonized chequered emblem

Chequered patterns have been popular in many countries around the world throughout history. In Japan, the chequered pattern became formally known as “ichimatsu moyo” in the Edo period (1603-1867), and this chequered design in the traditional Japanese colour of indigo blue expresses a refined elegance and sophistication that exemplifies Japan.

Composed of three varieties of rectangular shapes, the design represents different countries, cultures and ways of thinking. It incorporates the message of “unity in diversity”. It also expresses that the Olympic and Paralympic Games seek to promote diversity as a platform to connect the world.


B. Connecting Circle, Expanding Harmony

“This design expresses the connection between the dynamism of the athletes and the joy of the spectators, and the expansion of peace and harmony throughout the world.
It seeks to encompass mental and physical strength, dynamic movement and speed, and the euphoric emotions that the world derives from outstanding athletic performances.
The design also expresses the respect and warm hospitality that will be accorded to visitors from around the world to the Tokyo 2020 Games.”


C. Surpassing One’s Personal Best

“These emblems were inspired by the traditional Wind God and the Thunder God, and seek to convey dynamic movement at the instant an athlete breaks the tape on the finish line. They also represent athletes as they endeavour to attain and surpass their personal best.
The Wind God and the Thunder God have been much loved by the people of Japan for centuries. (e.g. the famous painting by the early 17th century Japanese artist Tawaraya Sotatsu, and the statues of these Gods at the Kaminari-mon Gate in Tokyo’s Asakusa district)
In the original depiction, the taiko drums held by the Thunder God are represented by fireworks, while the Wind Cloth held by the Wind God is replaced by the portrayal of a rainbow to symbolise the concepts of peace, diversity and harmony.
The emblems also express the athletes’ continued contribution to peace through their mental and physical tenacity, and a connection to the future.”


D. Flowering of Emotions

“The morning glory flower as it faces up towards the heavens to greet the new morning, expresses the faces of athletes striving to attain a personal best and the bright faces of people as they applaud the athletes. The upward-looking morning glory also represents the climax of this range of emotions.
The seed of the morning glory sprouts, the vine grows, and the flower opens,—the process of the flower growing and eventually returning to seed conveys the sense of expectation for the Games and succession to the next generation.
This flower was particularly popular during Japan’s Edo period (1603-1867), and remains a firm favourite (e.g. as subject for “Ukiyoe” prints.)
It signifies a heightened sense of anticipation towards the 2020 Games and the warm welcome that visitors from around the world will receive.”


Quotes and pic via Inside The Games. Thanks.

When will compound archery become an Olympic sport?

21 April, 2015

Matt Stutzman at the Paralympics: London 2012

Matt Stutzman at the Paralympics: London 2012

With just a few hundred days to go until Rio, there has now been a pair of posts by USA Archery speaking with Tom Dielen about if, how and when compound archery would be introduced to the Olympic Games (it has been a part of the Paralympics since 2008, of course). I have compiled both of them below into one interview.

There is already a plan submitted to include a recurve mixed team event at Tokyo 2020, which is a much easier sell to the IOC as it would not increase the number of athletes. Keeping the number of athletes for the Summer Games down to 10,500 is a key tenet of the Agenda 2020 proposals which are designed to reduce the cost and complexity of hosting the Games.

There are logistics issues too: the four medal archery programme at the moment with 128 athletes already monopolises a large venue for a week, so in order to have a compound competition either the programme would have to be significantly extended, the venue redesigned (presumably to four lanes) or the total number of athletes kept at the same or similar number, which would significantly change the recurve competition.

It seems very unlikely to be introduced at Toyko 2020, so if it does happen, the 2024 Games will be the earliest we see the bowstyle appearing. I suspect a lot depends on the continuing popularity of the Olympic competition in Brasil and Japan for a worldwide TV audience. Here’s hoping.

What if compound archery was an Olympic event? 

The benefits to archery are clear: There would be increased exposure for the sport, and the opportunity for more Olympic archery medals.

After all, archery is archery – no matter what bow we shoot.

But is it even possible for compound archery to become an Olympic event, and if so, what would it take to make that happen? For the first in a series of articles on this very hot topic, we talked with Tom Dielen, the Secretary General of World Archery.

“Worldwide, is it possible to estimate the percentage of compound archers versus recurve archers? “

It’s incredibly difficult to count the number of archers worldwide, independent of the bow they shoot: There are all those who shoot casually at a club or aren’t members of a federation, or visit centers or shops.

What we can easily count is the number of elite athletes competing at World Archery events and compare how many of these are compound and how many are recurve.

Over the 2014 season of World Championships (indoor and field) and Archery World Cup stages, we had 909 recurve entries and 653 compound. That’s about a 60:40 split.

In some of our larger member associations (national archery governing bodies), you would find more of a 70:30 split based on participation at national competitions.

We know that the number of casual compound archers is large, especially in North America, but we’re aiming to convert these people into competitors in the sport.

“Why hasn’t compound archery already been a part of the Olympic Games? “

Compound archery was first included in the World Archery Championships in 1995 – after an introduction in field and indoor disciplines earlier on.

It was only three years before that when World Archery introduced the head-to-head system to recurve archery, a competition format that greatly increased the event’s value to the Olympic Program.

A first request to include compound into the Olympics was made by Jim Easton in the late 1990s. However, the feedback received at that time was that it was impossible to add athletes, the disciplines were too similar, and that compound lacked universality (appeal and involvement from many different types of countries). What’s more, at that time, the position of archery was not as strong as it is now.

Getting a sport or discipline added to the Olympic Program has not been a quick process. Sports were voted in and out only at meetings held every four years – and there was little turnover.

However, the situation changed slightly last December, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) accepted the Agenda 2020 recommendations that shifted the Olympic Program from sports-based to event-based.

“What is World Archery’s position on having compound archery added to the Olympic Games? “

World Archery would like to have more archery events and more medals at the Olympic Games. The first goal is to add the mixed team to the recurve event, as this is quota neutral – meaning it does not increase the number of athletes.

It would be fantastic for the sport and its exposure internationally and in individual countries to include compound athletes in the Olympic Games.

There is the example of India at the Asian Games, where compound was introduced for the first time in 2014. The nation made the top 10 rankings thanks to four compound medals in archery. Nowhere does it say whether these were compound or recurve medals; they count just the same, and as archery.

Having said that, compound archery is already in the World Games – a multisport event that has been growing at an exceptional rate. The next edition is scheduled for Wroclaw in 2017, and then the World Games will head to Birmingham, Alabama in the USA for 2021.

At Cali [Colombia] 2013, there were huge, full spectator stands for the compound event. Birmingham 2021 is a real opportunity to showcase the sport – and what’s more, the IOC has signed an agreement to work closer with the World Games as a result of Agenda 2020.

The IOC basically sees the World Games as a test platform for new events. Therefore, we all have huge interest in delivering a great compound event at future World Games. Together with USA Archery, we should aim to have 10,000 spectators watching the finals in Birmingham.

That would send a clear message.

World Archery is also working to have compound added to other Continental Games, following the example of the Asian edition, as another way of increasing visibility.

“What are the IOC’s criteria for adding new events? “

There are many areas of assessment for new sports events in the Olympic Games. They range from participation, popularity, gender balance and competition level, to engagement with youth, integrity and individuality. One essential factor is television appeal.

Compound archery has the qualities of an Olympic discipline – but it will be up against tough competition like skateboarding, squash, wakeboarding and 3×3 basketball.

For the 2016 Olympic Games, along with the 26 Summer Olympic sports from London, there were 23 additional requests from sports to join the event. We are not the only ones with great ideas!

Now that we’re excited to see compound archers in the Olympic stadium, what can specifically be done to add compound archery to the Olympic Games? How can archery fans support this effort – and how are governing bodies working to make this change? Keep an eye out for our next article in this series, which will explore next steps for this initiative.

How would the addition of compound potentially benefit the sport of archery? 

There would be increased exposure, the opportunity for more Olympic archery medals. It would give more chances for different countries to win medals.

Is there any sense of how soon compound might become a part of the Games? 

It will not be a quick process, but each step along the way will be beneficial. Realistically, we are possibly looking at 2024, but more likely 2028.

What are some of the changes that must be made in order to have compound added? 

We have to raise the level of competition in the discipline, not in terms of the top archers but the depth and variety of the field. Compound archery is popular in some countries – like the USA – but the Olympics is a worldwide sporting event and many less developed nations simply do not practice the discipline.

At a most basic level: the availability of equipment and technical expertise.

The other critical element is the gender balance in all aspects. This means in participation but especially in performance level. At the moment, the level of compound women’s elite archery is not the same as the men’s. At the last World Championships, 28 points separated the women’s top 30 athletes over the qualification round – only 14 points the top 30 men. This pattern is echoed across other major events.

Alongside our development work, more investment needs to be made by member associations and manufacturers to make this a reality. Equal prize money in all events (World Archery already has this) is another related aspect to work on.

There’s also work to be done in event presentation – making compound more and more appealing to a live audience – communicating the successes, stories and challenges of the sport more effectively, and working to maximize that “cool” factor of archery in the movies.

We tested a number of competition formats over the past few years – and that is part of the process of developing a sport product that is different enough to the recurve event to have a chance of being included.

We need to develop archery’s version of beach volleyball. It doesn’t need to be on a beach – but we do need to make it different enough from recurve archery to enhance the appeal!

How is World Archery working to help make these changes? 

Continued development of the compound competition format, presentation and standard, and our international events, is a huge part of the process. The shift to include compound archery in the World Games – the first being the 2013 event – another initiative, plus the discipline in the first continental multisport event last year. We also have had excellent compound competitions in the Universiades and the Commonwealth Games.

We are making changes to how we present athletes on our website and encouraging high levels of social media activity among archers – another marker the IOC assess.

Our development department works hard to promote archery of all levels in nations growing in the sport around the world, and we have an equipment assistance program sponsored by many archery manufacturers.

During the ATA Show, World Archery met with manufacturers to explain why we have put in place the rule against athletes using camouflage equipment at international events. As well as safety (in field and 3D) being a factor, the move is largely about the presentation of the sport looking towards the Olympics. Camo would not be allowed at the Games – and if we truly want compound archery into the Olympics, then we need to make it a sport that we can successfully submit to the IOC for inclusion.

At World Archery target events (world championships and the Archery World Cup), the compound and recurve competitions are equal. We use Saturday as the compound finals day and Sunday for the recurve – both with identical schedules and prize money.

Is there anything that archers, coaches and others can do to help with having it included? 

Sports need personality and proactivity from elite athletes – as well as performance. Jesse Broadwater is a fantastic compound example: recently, his athlete Facebook page has grown to around 24,000 likes as he has put the effort in to better promote himself and the sport. It’s this kind of attitude that helps make compound in the Olympics a viable suggestion.

At whatever level and in whatever field – be it as an athlete, a coach, a tournament organizer, a photographer or journalist, even in governance of a club, region, state, or country – it’s about presenting compound archery as a global discipline that everyone can enjoy, participate in and watch.

Small things can help: wearing smart or sports clothes and shoes rather than jeans provides that positive sporting image to the external audience that we all know archery to have. If we want to be perceived as sportsmen and women in a real sports discipline, then we need to dress and act as such.

Remember, it’s not archers that we need to convince that compound should be in the Olympics. It’s those who don’t shoot.

Anything else WA would like to add: 

Archery is archery no matter what bow we shoot. We all love the sport and we need to make sure we stay positive about archery as a sport, together – and give it the good image it deserves. If we work together, presenting a unified and larger group of athletes, then things will become easier and progress will be made.


[via: http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Archery/News/Features/2015/March/19/Is-Compound-Archery-an-Olympic-Hopeful]


You may also want to read this piece from the NYT from 2012.