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The 2020 Tokyo Olympics Might Just Be the Best One Yet

After stumbling through scandal and doubts, Japan is determined to do a good job at next year's Olympics.

by Lex Celera
26 July 2019, 5:03am

Photos via Unsplash

If the International Olympics Committee is to be believed, the 2020 Games is geared to be one for the books.

Committee head Thomas Bach has been all praises when it comes to Japan’s preparations for the event.

"I can truly say I have never seen an Olympic city as prepared as Tokyo with one year to go before the Olympic Games," Bach said at a ceremony on July 24.

Five of the eight new venues are already finished. The centerpiece, named the National Stadium, is set to open by the end of the year. Dentsu Inc., the exclusive marketing agency for the 2020 Olympics, has raised $3 billion in local sponsorship revenue, three times more than the 2016 Games.

The medals are also getting quite a bit of attention. In celebration of the one-year mark before its official start, the organizers have unveiled the Olympic medal designs, which are notably made of recycled electronics.

Designer Junichi Kawanishi, who earned the opportunity to design the medals after winning a nationwide competition, said the medals "resemble rough stones that have been polished and which now shine with light and brilliance.”

“This is probably going to be the most popular Olympics, and possibly one of the most popular events of all time,” Ken Hanscom, chief operating officer of TicketManager, told The Associated Press.

There’s already a thick air of excitement heading to the 2020 Games this early on. An unofficial project by Japanese artists that rendered several participating countries as anime characters helped create an initial buzz online this year. Attempts to incorporate Japanese culture into the experience have also contributed to its popularity. Robot assistants, for example, will be part of the Olympic experience.

The warm reception is helping the Japanese government rest easy after the storms it had to weather the past few months. There was a scandal in March that led to the resignation of Tsunekazu Takeda, the Japanese Olympic Committee head, as reported by the Associated Press. Investigators claim that vote-buying helped Tokyo secure the bid.

The government was also criticized for the price tag of the event. Tokyo is spending at least $20 billion for preparations, 70 percent of it coming from taxpayers. This has led some to question whether the economic burden was worth it. Staggering ticket demand has also led to 80 to 90 percent of Japanese residents without a ticket.

All that aside, Tokyo is handling the job better than most. At the minimum, it’s definitely trying to avoid a repeat of the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, which was mired in controversy. An investigation of corruption within the International Olympic Committee has led to the arrest of the 2016 Olympic chief for money laundering, bribery, and criminal activity.

This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.