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1 Year: Tokyo Olympics unveil gold, silver, bronze medals

Updated: 2019-07-25 15:10
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic medals are seen during the "One Year to Go" ceremony celebrating one year out from the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo, Japan, on July 24, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

With exactly one year to go until the Tokyo Olympics open, organizers marked the day by unveiling the gold, silver, and bronze medals that will symbolize the 2020 Games.

Thousands of politicians, sponsors, and fans jammed a massive exhibition hall in central Tokyo on Wednesday.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a cameo appearance to welcome the guests. And IOC President Thomas Bach said: "I have never seen an Olympic city as prepared as Tokyo with one year to go before the Olympic Games."

Despite all the talk and theatrics, the center stage belonged to the medals by Japanese designer Junichi Kawanishi.

Kawanishi wrote that the medals are to "resemble rough stones that have been polished and which now shine with light and brilliance."

The front side carries the Tokyo Olympic emblem, with the Greek goddess of victory on the back.

Bach, a fencing gold medalist in the 1976 Olympics, conducted a mock fencing duel earlier in the day with a junior high student — another chance to draw attention to the one-year milestone. The games will be held July 24-Aug. 9, 2020.

Tokyo is spending about $20 billion to prepare the city to host the games, though exact Olympic spending is disputed and difficult to track. Five of the eight new venues are already finished, and the centerpiece, the $1.25 billion National Stadium, is to open by the end of the year.

Ticket demand by Japanese residents appears to be a least 10 times above supply — maybe more — with demand also surging abroad. A recent law banning unauthorized ticket resales in Japan is sure to be tested because of glaring loopholes.

Organizers are also preparing for Tokyo's typically hot summer weather, though this summer has been wet and cool. Traffic and subway congestion is also a concern, as is earthquake preparedness.

"This year Tokyo is chilly rather than hot," Yoshiro Mori, the president of the organizing committee, said. "It's quite different from what we experienced last year."

Mori said Japanese Emperor Naruhito had accepted a role "as honorary patron" of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. He will be expected to announce the opening of both the Olympics and Paralympics.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike was asked a few days ago to justify spending billions on the Olympics. Organizers have been under pressure to cut costs, and they say they have cut billions by using existing venues. Tokyo is building eight new venues, but using 35 "temporary" or older venues.

Koike described the Olympics and Paralympics as an "accelerator" to get things done, though research shows that the Olympic deadlines drive up costs. And Tokyo is famous for building things — with or without the Olympics.

"I'd like the legacy of the 2020 Games to be something more intangible, a new way of thinking for people and for society," she said. Koike described the Paralympics, which open Aug. 25, 2020, as a "springboard" to make the city more accessible to people with disabilities.

AP

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