A spectacle of hope, solidarity and peace, as the world battled fear and disruption

“One year after the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, we can look back and proudly say: we did it together. We did it for athletes around the world,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. , in his video address to attendees of the event. “These were historic Olympic Games, and it took an unprecedented, historic effort by all of us to make them happen – and for them to happen. in a safe way for everyone: the athletes and our kind hosts, the Japanese people.”

Referring to the shocking assassination of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo earlier this month, President Bach added: “One of the driving forces that made these Games possible was former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, who so tragically lost his life earlier this month, without his vision and determination these Olympics would never have happened. […] We all owe him our respect and gratitude, especially today as we celebrate the first anniversary of the start of these historic Games.

A commemorative video of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is shown during the Tokyo 2020 Games' first anniversary ceremony CIO / Yuichi Yamazaki

The power of resilience

Athletes traveling to Tokyo faced not only Herculean training regimens, but also pandemic-caused uncertainties and the near-impossible task of staying in shape amid the toughest lockdown restrictions.

But with an eye firmly on the future, and thanks to the courage and “monumental understanding and cooperation” of everyone involved, Tokyo 2020 pulled off a safe and enduring sporting spectacle filled with moments of solidarity and resilience.

Sifan Hassan 2021Getty Images

Perhaps the most symbolic of these moments was Sifan Hassan’s final lap in the 1,500 meter race, which saw her crash to the ground to get back up, overtake other runners and ultimately win the race.

And, in the true Olympic spirit of friendship and solidarity, Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi decided to share the gold medal, after each jumping 2.37m in the Olympic vaulting final in height.

Mutaz Barshim of Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy 2021Getty Images

“The athletes expressed their gratitude and responded with outstanding performances,” said President Bach. “They connected in an unparalleled way, savoring every moment together after being separated for so long by the pandemic. In everything they did, they embodied our new Olympic motto: Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together. These deeply human moments touched our hearts, giving us the most precious gift in our difficult times: hope.

Connect with tomorrow

As COVID-19 made it impossible to welcome spectators to Olympic venues, the Games adapted by making more content available to fans around the world on more screens than ever before. Through an increased presence on TV, digital streaming, websites, apps and social media, Tokyo 2020 saw a 74% increase in digital unique viewers compared to the Olympic Games Rio 2016, with a 139% increase in the number of video views on digital platforms. This has helped make Tokyo 2020 the most watched Olympic Games on digital platforms and has highlighted how the changing media landscape has made it the premier “Streaming Games”. New technologies and digital innovation have enabled fans around the world to experience the emotion and excitement of the Games remotely.

Committed to minimizing environmental and climate impact, Tokyo 2020 has prioritized the use of existing and temporary venues and implemented a number of CO2 reduction measures, including the use of renewable energy and fuel-efficient vehicles. Ninety-nine percent of non-consumable items were reused or recycled, and 62% of waste was recycled. The medal podiums – themselves made from recycled plastic – were donated to schools across Japan, along with certificates explaining how they were made.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Village 2021Getty Images

A year later, Tokyo residents are already benefiting from a more sustainable city. As part of its “Zero Emission Tokyo” strategy, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) aims to introduce 150 hydrogen fueling stations and more than 300 zero-emission buses on the capital’s roads by 2030. Pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users also benefit. , through new bus-only lanes, bike lanes, bike share, water transportation and waterfront parks. The hydrogen-powered Olympic Village is being converted into an apartment complex, school, shops and other facilities. The complex, featuring oceanfront parks and other green spaces, will serve as a showcase for an eco-friendly, high-tech urban lifestyle – “a new, convenient community where a wide range of people live and interact with ease and comfort”.

    A general view during the Amazing Canoe Slalom Summer Festa CIO / Christopher Jue

Healthy lifestyle

Encouraging healthier lifestyles and participation in sports was a major focus of Tokyo 2020. A year later, residents are benefiting from the reopening of Olympic facilities – six of the eight purpose-built venues are already welcoming the public. The Ariake Urban Sports Park, which will be reopened later, will host a special skateboarding experience event for Tokyo residents as part of the first anniversary celebrations.


Despite COVID-19 restrictions, more than 5,500 cultural programs involving 37 million people were staged as part of the Cultural Olympiad leading up to the Games, and organizers say more than half of them are still running. in place. Ninety-four percent of cultural event sponsors indicated that they would like to continue their support. The Olympic Agora – a cultural center featuring visual art installations, exhibitions and digital programs that opened just before the Games – features permanent site-specific sculptures.

Tokyo 2020 was another milestone in the IOC’s vision for more sustainable Games that deliver lasting benefits beyond sport. But perhaps even more valuable are the lessons learned from unprecedented challenges.

“Although the Tokyo 2020 Games were held under difficult conditions, I believe that through the Games, Japan has helped to reawaken the ties and ties that unite all people around the world,” said Seiko Hashimoto, President of Tokyo 2020. “I am convinced that the unique experiences of these Games will be passed on as a legacy to future generations, and I hope that the Tokyo 2020 Games will become an inspiration to stimulate positive changes in society. in the future.”


“The Tokyo 2020 Games shared courage and enthusiasm with the world,” said Koike Yuriko, Governor of Tokyo. “The successful delivery of the Games, despite unprecedented difficult circumstances, has generated an invaluable legacy. We sensed the exciting future ahead of us through the progress towards realizing an inclusive society, the roadmap towards a sustainable society and the application of advanced technologies. Above all, by sharing the dynamic performances of the athletes, we were able to remind people around the world of the wonder of sport. Leaving a strong record of these efforts and passing it on to the future is our mission as Tokyo’s host city.

Tokyo 2020’s first anniversary celebrations will culminate on October 16 with a thank-you event hosted by the IOC at the National Stadium. The event will be a celebration of the Olympic Games, the city and the people of Tokyo. It will include sports and cultural activities for the local community, organized alongside the Tokyo Legacy Half Marathon.

James C. Tibbs