Report on "Tokyo 2020 Ideathon"

On Sunday 27 November, the first in a series of “Tokyo 2020 Ideathon(1)” events was held, pitting Japanese college and university students against each other in a competition of ideas designed to address various challenges related to preparations for, and the actual hosting of, the Tokyo 2020 Games.

Reflecting the theme of making the Paralympics a success through technology, the event, sponsored by the Tokyo 2020 Ideathon Executive Committee (2), brought together 33 students from around Japan to brainstorm ways in which spectators can enjoy watching wheelchair basketball. Participants were divided into 10 teams, jotting down their ideas on paper slips, arranging these on whiteboards and then giving shape to those ideas using models and other techniques.

The winning team's proposal was to provide goggle-style headsets to enable spectators to experience through virtual reality the sensation of playing wheelchair basketball. Describing his team's elation at winning the Grand Prize, Shota Iwamasa of Yamaguchi University said, “Our idea was to make it easy for people to experience the sport and understand its appeal in confined spaces like railway stations. We never imagined we'd win the Grand Prize.”

Japanese Paralympic Committee President Yasushi Yamawaki, who served as a judge at the event, thanked participants, observing, “The teams came up with some great ideas despite the small amount of time available. We would really like to try out some of them.”

1 The word “ideathon” is a recently coined expression that combines the words “idea” and “marathon”. In an ideathon, a diverse group of people brainstorms new ideas, action plans or business models around a specific topic.

2 Tokyo 2020 Ideathon Executive Committee comprising representatives of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation, Fujitsu Ltd., Japan Airlines Co., Ltd., Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, The Yomiuri Shimbun and The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A participant jotting down an idea Team members exchanging views at the venue Participants trying out wheelchair basketball Participants discussing how to express their ideas Team members celebrating their win The prize-winning teams