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Tokyo Olympics 2020: Opening and closing ceremonies to reflect themes of re-birth, 'stylish' Paralympics included in narrative

Tokyo: The opening and closing ceremonies at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will reflect themes of ‘reconstruction’ and ‘re-birth’ that have run through preparations for the Games, newly-appointed creative director Mansai Nomura said on Tuesday.

Mansai Nomura, poses with Executive Creative Director for the Olympic Games Takashi Yamazaki (L), and Executive Creative Director for the Paralympic Games Hiroshi Sasaki (R). Reuters

Mansai Nomura poses with Executive Creative Director for the Olympic Games Takashi Yamazaki (L), and Executive Creative Director for the Paralympic Games Hiroshi Sasaki (R). Reuters

Over the last two decades, the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics have become an increasingly important medium for the host nation to show off its history and culture as well as communicate key messages. It appears Tokyo 2020 will be no different and Nomura, an actor who features in a traditional form of Japanese comedic theatre know as Kyogen, spoke of recovery with a focus on the future and embracing life.

“We are alive,” the 52-year-old told a news conference, adding, “(we have) experienced war and being victims to natural disasters, this devastation and tragedy. With this in mind, we need to turn our eyes to life. The earth is a repetition of death and life and in this cycle we are alive.”

A key theme in the run-up to the Games has been the recovery from the devastating earthquake that struck Japan in 2011. Nomura, who rejoices in the official title of chief executive creative director, has been tasked with orchestrating the ceremonies for the Olympics and Paralympics around four themes of peace, co-existence, reconstruction and future.

Although he would not give too much away about the content of the ceremonies, he suggested re-birth would be a key theme. “So, maybe things that are born or nurtured and developed, something like that. I shouldn’t say more otherwise I will be giving out too much,” he said with an enigmatic smile.

Nomura is famous in Japan for capturing the essence of the ancient art of Kyogen theatre, while bringing the form to a new generation through modern interpretations.

However, the organisers of the Tokyo 2020 opening and closing ceremonies are also adamant that the Paralympics will be on an equal footing with the Olympics as they plan consistent themes and storylines across all four ceremonies.

Hiroshi Sasaki, the man behind Tokyo 2020’s startling handover performance during the closing ceremony at the Rio Games in 2016, has been tasked with designing the Paralympic ceremonies in two years’ time.

The Paralympics are due to start on 25 August, 2020, over two weeks after the end of the Olympics on 9 August, but Sasaki is determined to orchestrate a ceremony that keeps the Paralympics firmly in the public consciousness. “There is something I would like to avoid, which is after the Olympics people will feel things have concluded, things have finished,” Sasaki told reporters on Tuesday.

“There will be much media attention after the Olympic Games — how were the Games, how many medals each country has won — but then I will once again be asking for your full support in also giving energy to the Paralympic Games,” said Sasaki. He also spoke passionately about meeting para athletes, who have helped shape his understanding of their sport, and wants to design ceremonies that will highlight how ‘cool’ and ‘stylish’ they are.

“The recognition of Para sports, which is different to that of the past, is of para sports being cool,” said Sasaki, adding, "the key words being something cool, something stylish. This is something I would like to see. If you look at the Paralympic Games or para athletes, they are all taking on challenges, over-coming many difficulties and obstacles.”

“I think we are at a stage of transformation; that the Paralympic Games will undergo significant transformations and in two years time maybe para sports will have transformed significantly. That is a real possibility. In that sense, the Tokyo Games, will be a turning point,” said Sasaki.

With inputs from Reuters.

 


Updated Date: Jul 31, 2018 16:20 PM

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