Medals take center stage for 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo

TOKYO — With 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, piling on speeches, musical interludes and dancing performances to celebrate the one-year mark.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a cameo appearance to welcome the guests. And International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach repeated what he has said often in various places around the world.

“I can truly say,” 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. Five of the eight new venues are 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, with demand also surging abroad.

Organizers also are 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.

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. In addition to its new venues, Tokyo is 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.

Stephen Wade is an Associated Press writer.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Medals-take-center-stage-for-2020-Olympic-Games-14125427.php.

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