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Miscellaneous thoughts on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony (Atsushi Fukuda, brand consultant)

These are my miscellaneous thoughts on the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

I don’t by nature have a particular interest in the Olympics, and had never once watched the event.

As someone involved in the entertainment industry, however, the many incidents of misconduct surrounding the opening ceremony caused me to take an interest. Last night I closely watched four hours of the ceremony.

My thoughts are not about the significance of the Olympics, but come from the perspective of event production.

Ironically, I think last night’s opening ceremony is a perfect stand-in for Japan today.

I’m referring to the absence of a leader.

As an event – or organization – becomes larger, it becomes more likely that the people working there will manage instead of lead. This is not the fault of any person; it’s a characteristic of human beings and organizations. Even the drama “Hanzawa Naoki,” a big project, was left to a very small team to increase the probability of success. Even Captain Kirk of “Star Trek” assigns specialist managers to specific teams within the ship’s 1,000 employees, so that he can devote himself to new projects and to heading out to solve problems on sparsely populated, dangerous planets.

Within management theory is the expression “the 30-people wall.” People beyond that number exceed what a single leader can manage. Seen it the other way, it’s possible to appoint leaders who can manage 30 persons, and, with 30 such managers in place, to become a leader of 900 people. These sorts of autonomous silos are combined to carry out larger projects.

For an event like the Olympics, I believe it would be better to carry out decision-making through a small organization. Two hours for the athletes’ entrance is standard; how to produce the remaining hour or two before and after the entrance is the issue.

If I were the project leader, I’d want to work out the following three concepts, under a basic concept of “The Olympian Spirit in the 21st Century.”

1. Promotion of Health

The hosting the Tokyo 2020 Olympics goes back to then-Prime Minister Shintaro Ishihara’s general policy speech on June 17, 2011. Inspired by Yukio Mishima’s column on the Tokyo Olympics, he wanted to showcase world-class health and physical excellence from Japan.

Naoki Inose took on the task and made it a reality. My point is that both of these men are writers. It has also been estimated that simply reducing diabetes would bring about a tax inflow of over 3 trillion yen. I think that building awareness about health is of top importance for the Olympics. The event could also host entertainment shows that highlight peak physical performance, like Cirque du Soleil.

2. Diversity

This includes themes of “Black lives matter” and eliminating the gender gap. Discrimination against women, bullying, the Holocaust, and many other issues came to the fore just before the Olympics. As such, the Olympics should be an event that allows us to reaffirm the wonders of every human’s potential when athletes from around the world, win or lose, have done their best.

I’d like to see a lot of short interviews with people who may have lost their competition but discovered new values, and with former athletes who found such values through winning competitions.

3. The future of science

The COVID-19 pandemic forced humankind to hit the restart button. Yet humans will continue to push civilization forward. Toward that end, we must strengthen the power of science. A theme of the Paralympic Games is the extension of human capabilities through wearable devices. Reproducing amazing athletes through VR or holograms could be interesting.

Projection mapping and drone displays that express the future of health tech, such as mRNA development and genome editing using AI, would also be interesting.

If we view the opening ceremony as a venue that can express such exciting themes, we could perhaps place attention not only on superficial slogans but also on people who are uninterested in the Olympics.

I believe that no event will succeed without strong leadership, a beautiful story, and a concept.

With that in mind, I still look forward to seeing the MIKIKO proposal.

◆ Reference

The motorcycle of the main character in “AKIRA”… An overview of the MIKIKO Team Opening Ceremony Plan that even Naomi Watanabe praised.