Thursday, October 28, 2021

Tokyo serves up a surprisingly ethnic mix at opening ceremony

In the 12 years since the Turin Paralympics, Tokyo has become the quintessential Japanese city. But unlike many of its neighbours, it has done little to promote its diverse population. Not only did it not host the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but despite boasting a population of about 25 million people, there is barely a trace of the more than 100 languages spoken in the city.

It might be what fans in the audience at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Paralympics saw for themselves, however, that has made this most Japanese of cities the talk of the world.

That’s because Japan’s main work is now in rebuilding shattered communities after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. As a result, more than 100 languages are spoken, which raises the question: what use is the opening ceremony of a sporting event if it fails to address this much-needed message of inclusion?

Meanwhile, many of the Tokyo 2020 officials in attendance were also watching to see if Japanese officials would ditch the traditional pose of the parent with children during the ceremony and walk together with a powerful father-son image of Japanese society.

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