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Special Edition Magazine, Fall 2019: Sustainability

Tokyo’s Sustainable Games

As the host of the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, Tokyo is committed to delivering first-class athletic facilities and outstanding experiences to spectators. But, unlike many past Olympic hosts, the city is also committed to embedding long-term economic, social, and environmental needs into all planning processes.

TOKYO – In the run-up to the Olympic Games, many host cities often become vast and dusty building sites. New construction is typically aimed at meeting the immediate requirements of the event, rather than the long-term needs of the local community. Hence, many host cities are left with new, state-of-the-art venues that often become white elephants after the Games. Equally important, many cities also face harsh financial reckonings. Tokyo, the host of the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, will not fall into this trap, because it is treating the event in the same way that it regards the economy: as needing to be run in a sustainable fashion and with a sharp eye to the future.

Of course, as Tokyo’s governor, I am committed to delivering first-class athletic facilities and outstanding experiences to all spectators who attend this important event. Yet, every step of the way, my administration is making sure that the Tokyo 2020 Games – and their long-term legacy – adhere to the principles of environmental sustainability that the city has embraced for nearly a half-century.

Tokyo’s commitment to these principles is hard-won. After the Pacific War (World War II) ended, Tokyo – like the rest of Japan – was concerned, first and foremost, with reconstruction. During the 1950s and 1960s, Tokyo’s economy (and its landscape) was transformed dramatically. Due to rapid economic growth beginning around 1955, growth in Tokyo’s population accelerated. As many factories were built, the city’s environment worsened visibly. Enthusiasm for hosting the Tokyo 1964 Olympic and Paralympic Games prioritized economic growth ahead of environmental concerns.

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