Tokyo Olympics: a new artistic director for “more sober” ceremonies

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The organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, postponed to next summer due to the coronavirus, announced on Wednesday that they had chosen a new artistic director to rethink in a “simpler and more sober” way the opening and closing ceremonies.

The task will be entrusted to the publicist Hiroshi Sasaki, who had worked in 2016 at the symbolic handover ceremony from the Rio Games to those in Tokyo, during which Shinzo Abe, then Japanese Prime Minister, appeared in the costume of the game character. Super Mario video.

Tokyo-2020 organizers explained that the decision to replace the previous artistic team of seven would improve efficiency, while revamping these traditionally lavish and spectacular ceremonies to be “in tune with the situation.”

“The ceremonies will remain a big celebration for the athletes and the whole world”, but with “a simpler and more sober approach, designed to reflect the general simplification of the Games and the need to continue to consider measures” in the face of the coronavirus, have the organizers said in a statement.

Hiroshi Sasaki replaces a team led by Mansai Nomura, a master of kyogen, a comic form of traditional Japanese theater, who was committed to producing ceremonies “typically Japanese in spirit”.

Mr. Sasaki had designed the very bare-bones event held last July to kick off the countdown to one year of the postponed Games.

Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee, a leukemia survivor, had appeared in a dark, empty stadium, holding the Olympic flame in a lantern, which organizers said symbolized principles meant to guide revised and corrected ceremonies.

“It is appropriate to simplify the schedule of the ceremonies and make them respect the global experience of the pandemic in some way,” organizers said.

Speaking to reporters, Sasaki said he still remembered the opening ceremony with great fanfare of the 1964 Summer Olympics, the first to be held in Tokyo.

“But, today, these extravagant and flashy ceremonies are considered superfluous and we must see this time as an opportunity to change because, or rather thanks” to the global health crisis, he said. he declares.

He admitted he had not made much headway in designing the new ceremonies, but stressed that they would emphasize the Games theme serving as “light at the end of the tunnel” after the pandemic.

Organizers are stepping up preparations for the postponed Games, but a majority of Japanese public opinion would prefer a further postponement of the event, or even its outright cancellation.

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