Tokyo 2020 celebrates One Year to Go to the opening of the Olympic Games

IOC President Thomas Bach fencing with local children before the “One Year to Go” ceremony
IOC President Thomas Bach fencing with local children before the “One Year to Go” ceremony

The countdown to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 begins today

Excitement is building for the Olympic Games as Tokyo 2020 officially celebrated its “One Year to Go” milestone today.

Tokyo 2020 marked the occasion with a jam-packed event, including a ceremony attended by National Olympic Committees and athletes at the Tokyo International Forum.

Here are the highlights of this ground-breaking celebration.

Let's 55 Go! Go!

There's no better way to get ready for the games than to play like a world-class athlete. At a special “One Year to Go” Let's 55 event at the Tokyo International Forum plaza, families and children were able to try out different Olympic sports, igniting more excitement in visitors looking forward to the Games. IOC president Thomas Bach, who arrived in Japan this morning to attend the ceremony, jumped at the opportunity to pit his wits against a 13-year-old fencer in a smart fencing match (using a soft sword instead of a real fencing sword).

Through the Let's 55 project, the public can be an athlete for a day and experience the 55 sports of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. The programme also gives people the chance to meet Olympians and Paralympians who share their passion for sport.

Olympic Sports at the Let's 55 (Go Go) Event during the Tokyo 2020 One Year to Go milestone
Olympic Sports at the Let's 55 (Go Go) Event during the Tokyo 2020 One Year to Go milestone

“We're on track”

Tokyo 2020 CEO, Toshiro Muto delivered a speech in the morning highlighting the progress being made towards a successful and sustainable Games. 

Half of the new permanent venues are already complete, with the Olympic stadium to be finished late this year. The Tokyo 2020 Medal Project has also achieved its goal of collecting precious metals to create sustainable Tokyo 2020 medals. With sustainability a core vision of Tokyo 2020, there is also an ongoing project to produce podiums from recycled household plastic waste.

“One Year to Go” ceremony

The opening performance of today's ceremony showcased the very best of Japan with a graceful performance by Honami Tsuboi, an Olympic gymnast at Beijing 2008. She was accompanied by the Yoshida Brothers, one of Japan's best-known duos, known for playing the shamisen – a three-stringed traditional Japanese instrument.

After the performance, Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori delivered a special message to welcome those who attended the “One Year to Go” ceremony.

“I believe the Tokyo 2020 Games will become an important part of Olympic history and a talking point for future generations. This will be an occasion where the world is united as one, regardless of nationality, race, culture or religion. I fervently hope younger generations will learn to respect, understand and accept each other as a result of these Games, and play a central role in realising an inclusive society in the future,” he said.

IOC President Thomas Bach said: “One year from now, Japan will make history. It will be a wonderful and unique moment for our gracious Japanese hosts to show the world the best of Japan: your rich history and traditions, your cutting-edge innovation, your culture of hospitality and, of course, your love for sport.”

IOC President Thomas Bach
IOC President Thomas Bach

He continued, “Preparations are making excellent progress, thanks to the amazing work of the Organising Committee and the outstanding cooperation and support of the government and business community. There is so much to look forward to. I have never seen an Olympic city as prepared as Tokyo with one year to go before the Olympic Games.” 

National Olympic Committees hosting future Olympic and Paralympic Games were also present to receive the formal invitation to the Tokyo 2020 Games from IOC President Thomas Bach.

Olympic Committee President Zhongwen Gou receiving a formal invitation to Tokyo 2020 from IOC Thomas Bach
Olympic Committee President Zhongwen Gou receiving a formal invitation to Tokyo 2020 from IOC Thomas Bach

Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay torchbearer programme

To add to the excitement of the “One year to Go celebration”, the Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay Official Ambassadors entered the ceremony site with Games mascot Miraitowa holding the Olympic torch.

The ambassadors focused on the importance of the Torch Relay for Tokyo 2020 as it brings messages of hope to areas in Japan that are still being restored after the earthquake. They also highlighted the ongoing recruitment of torchbearers.

More than 10,000 torchbearers will make their way around Japan carrying the Olympic flame. The Torch Relay will start its journey from Fukushima, lighting its way across Japan's 47 prefectures.

Japanese Torch Relay Official ambassadors at the “One Year to Go” event
Japanese Torch Relay Official ambassadors at the “One Year to Go” event

Tokyo 2020 Olympic medals

The design of the new Olympic medals was finally unveiled during the “One Year to Go” ceremony. 

Five thousand medals will be created for next year's Olympic Games and will be manufactured from precious metals extracted from mobile phones and other small electronic devices donated by the public. 

The new design symbolises diversity and embodies the energy and commitment of athletes. The winning design is a result of a nationwide competition launched in 2017 open to professional designers and design students.

Ryohei Miyata, chairperson of the Tokyo 2020 medal design selection panel said, “I am convinced that Japanese metal moulding techniques and the superb design have combined well, and that we have the best medal in the world — one that we can be proud of. There is also a beautiful balance between the design of the medals and their ribbons. It makes me want to strive for a medal myself.”

The new Olympic medal designs
The new Olympic medal designs

OMEGA countdown clock

The day wrapped up with the unveiling of the OMEGA countdown clock, the Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games. The countdown clock is located in front of Tokyo station, used by more than one million people every day. 

OMEGA has worked closely with Tokyo 2020, incorporating the design themes of the Olympic Games. 

Photo caption: OMEGA countdown clock 

As night fell on the Japanese capital, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building in Shinjuku, Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree were illuminated to mark the milestone.