Organisers of the coronavirus-postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics say they have picked a new creative director to redesign “simpler and more restrained” opening and closing ceremonies for next year’s Games. The 2020 Summer Olympics opening ceremony is scheduled to take place on 23 July 2021.
The mammoth task will fall to advertising executive Hiroshi Sasaki, who helped produce the ceremony handing over the Games from Rio to Tokyo. Organisers said the decision to replace a previous seven-person creative team would improve efficiency as reshape the traditionally lavish and spectacular ceremonies to be “in tune with the situation.”
“The ceremonies will still be a great celebration to be enjoyed by the athletes and watching world but will likely take a simpler and more restrained approach designed to reflect the overall simplification of the Games and the potential need to still consider COVID-19 countermeasures,” organisers said in a statement.
“It is appropriate to make ceremonial events and programs simpler and have them in some way reflect and respect the world’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic,” they said.
Speaking to reporters, Sasaki said he still remembered watching as a child the opening ceremony for the 1964 Olympics, the first time Tokyo hosted the Summer Games, and had enjoyed the traditionally lavish events opening and closing the sporting event.
“But now these flashy extravagant ceremonies are considered as too much and we must think of this time as an opportunity to change due to COVID-19, or rather thanks to COVID-19,” he said.
He conceded that he has not made much progress yet on the direction of the new ceremonies, but said they would emphasise the theme of the Games serving as the “light at the end of the tunnel” after the pandemic.
Organisers are pressing ahead with preparations for the postponed Games, announcing a new budget, test event schedule and coronavirus countermeasures in recent weeks.
But public opinion in Japan remains opposed to holding the event next year, with a majority favouring a further delay or outright cancellation.