The main stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is officially open!
Japan's new National Stadium was inaugurated in a star-studded event on Saturday (21 December), with eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt lacing up his spikes again to test the brand new track.
The reigning 100m and 200m World Record holder Bolt was beaten in an exhibition relay event, but also took part in setting a new world record with a group of locals striking his famous "Lightening Bolt" celebration, to add to his legacy on the track.
The stadium will host the athletics events at the next Olympics and Paralympics, as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
Olympic athletes looking to follow Colin Kaepernick's lead will have to do it somewhere other than Tokyo ... 'cause the IOC has banned kneeling and raising fists in protests at the 2020 games.
The International Olympic Committee released its guidelines for the upcoming Summer Games ... and it's clear the committee is trying very hard to keep politics out of it.
"The unique nature of the Olympic Games enables athletes from all over the world to come together in peace and harmony," the guidelines say.
"We believe that the example we set by competing with the world’s best while living in harmony in the Olympic Village is a uniquely positive message to send to an increasingly divided world."
"This is why it is important, on both a personal and a global level, that we keep the venues, the Olympic Village and the podium neutral and free from any form of political, religious or ethnic demonstrations."
Sports fans everywhere will already be aflutter over the oncoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo, but those with artistic sensibilities should also be excited about one of the world's most creative countries celebrating the big occasion in typically adventurous style.
In addition to the official Tokyo 2020 logo unveiled last summer, today marks the official unveiling of 20 art posters specially commissioned for the event, as created by not only some of Japan's best design and illustration talent but also global art superstars like Philippe Weisbecker and Chiris Ofili.
Created by 19 artists of which a dozen are based on the theme of the Olympic Games and eight on the Paralympic Games, the posters will be presented to the public across Japan's capital with the aim to raise awareness of the fast approaching Olympiad.
Find our selection of the best posters profiled here, including works by acclaimed surrealist Tomoko Konoike (featured) and 20th Century Boys manga creator Naoki Urasawa.
Nike’s record breaking Vaporfly Next% shoes have adorned the feet of multiple marathon winners since their release in 2017. But according to speculation, they seem likely to be banned when the World Athletics announces new rules surrounding running shoes.
The shoes, worn by Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei when she broke Paula Radcliffe’s women’s marathon record last year, are believed to make its wearers four per cent more efficient. They come with super-thick soles that incorporate carbon-fibre plates that act like springs, while remaining incredibly lightweight – a pair of UK size 9 comes in at 190g.
Accordingly, rules that limit the thickness of midsoles and the use of carbon-fibre plates are expected soon.
A prototype version of the shoes – the Alphafly – was also used by Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge when he become the first person to run a marathon in under two hours, albeit unofficially, in Vienna last October.
In a promotional video featuring Japanese tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, as well as fans of different nationalities, the organizing committee for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games revealed on Feb. 17 the event’s official motto: United by Emotion.
Yet if there’s one emotion linking the world today, it might be fear. The COVID-19 outbreak shows little sign of weakening. As of Feb. 19, the disease has infected more than 75,000, killed 2,014 and prompted over 50 countries and territories to close their borders to arrivals from China. The “devil” virus, as Chinese President Xi Jinping has called it, has already surpassed the combined death toll of SARS and MERS and lies on the cusp of becoming a pandemic that spreads around the globe. The next few weeks will determine whether containment efforts can prevent COVID-19 becoming the “black swan event” that Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang has warned may derail the global economy.
The economic repercussions already look severe. According to analysis by research firm Capital Economics, COVID-19 will cost the world economy over $280 billion in the first quarter of this year, meaning that global GDP will not grow from one quarter to the next for the first time since 2009. China’s growth is expected to slow to 4.5% over the same period. Some 5 million companies have Chinese suppliers, according to data company Dun & Bradstreet, and all are under threat from slashed manufacturing capacity.
Korean automaker Hyundai has shut its huge factory in Ulsan due to a shortage of parts. Apple has told investors it will fail to meet quarterly revenue targets and warned of global “iPhone supply shortages” from the shutting of Chinese factories. The slowdown may also undermine U.S. plans to massively boost exports of agricultural goods, energy and services to China, hampering any potential recovery in farming communities and the Rust Belt.
Travel in and around the region has ebbed significantly. Some 21 airlines have cancelled all flights to mainland China. Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific has cut 40% of network capacity and asked 27,000 employees to take unpaid leave to help it stay afloat. Events from the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens to K-Pop concerts have been cancelled or postponed.
Now, speculation is mounting about one of the year’s biggest events due to take place directly in the orbit of the outbreak—the 2020 Olympic Games, which are to be held in Tokyo beginning July 24. Japan has the second highest rate of COVID-19 infections after China, with 695 people testing positive for the virus, most of them on a cruise ship docked at the city of Yokohama. Yet the Olympics torch relay is due to begin next month and traverse to all of Japan’s 47 prefectures over 121 days, coinciding with its popular cherry blossom bloom.