The 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang are drawing to a end after two intense weeks of athletic competition, including upset wins and shocking losses. If you're already craving your next fix of world-class shows of athleticism and ready to go down another Wikipedia rabbit hole while looking up the rules to obscure sports, get ready, because there's just two years to go until the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
The next Olympics will take place July 24-Aug. 9, 2020. This is the second time Tokyo will host the summer games, the first being the 1964 Olympics. Japan also hosted the the Winter Olympics in 1972 in Sapporo and in 1998 in Nagano, which is where a 16-year-old Tara Lipinski famously won the gold medal in figure skating ahead of fan favorite Michelle Kwan, who took home silver.
Now Japan will continue its history of hosting the Olympics, after winning the host city election against Istanbul and Madrid. At the closing ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympics, the governor of Tokyo accepted the Olympic flag and Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, showed up dressed like Mario, the iconic Nintendo character. Since then the host nation has been working on revamping the Tokyo National Stadium and replacing it with a new arena. Both the Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, as well as athletic competitions, will be held in this stadium.
About 40 percent of the venues at the 2020 Tokyo Games will be located outside Tokyo proper, said John Coates, coordination commission chair of the International Olympic Committee. The venues at Aomi and Ariake, for example, will host competitions in BMX racing and freestyle, skateboarding, basketball 3x3, and sport climbing. Basketball 3x3 and sport climbing are two new events that will make their debut in the 2020 Summer Olympics.
According to the official Olympics website, Tokyo 2020 organizers have described their vision of the Summer Olympics as “the most innovative ever organized, and will rest on three fundamental principles to transform the world: striving for your personal best (achieving your personal best); accepting one another (unity in diversity); and passing on a legacy for the future (connecting to tomorrow)." Masa Takaya of the Tokyo 2020 team said preparations for the Summer Olympics are "right on track" and that organizers are making an effort to keep the event budget in check
And you can bet the 2020 Tokyo Games won't just be a show of the most elite display of most elite athletes in the world. You can also expect a stunning display of emerging technology. The capital of Japan is one of the most advanced cities in the world and it's no wonder Tokyo served as an inspiration for Blade Runner and other futuristic sci-fi stories. Japanese cyberpunk is its own genre of cinema (for an introductory taste, check out Akira, a 1988 animated film set in Neo-Tokyo).
People are predicting that the 2020 Tokyo Games will be the most futuristic Olympics to date. To the tune of $18 billion, the 2020 Summer Olympics are set to showcase high-end technology that hasn't reached mainstream use yet. Some of that technology includes a robot village adjacent to the Olympic Village. Robots will help visitors with directions, transportation, and translation.
Panasonic also hopes to introduce a small, instant translation device to be worn around the neck that can translate Japanese into 10 languages and vice versa. Japan already has one app, VoiceTra, which translates 27 languages in real time. Tokyo and Nissan are testing the possibility of self-driving taxis.
Other possibilities include an artificial meteor shower, an Olympic village run entirely on hydrogen power, algae-fueled airplanes, and of course a return of the bullet trains — only faster, like way faster. Tokyo introduced the shinkansen bullet trains to the public ahead of the 1964 Summer Olympics, breaking major ground in public transportation. So who knows what kind of futuristic technology we can expect at Tokyo 2020?