オリンピック・アゴラ1/5
Photo: © 2021 – IOC/Yuichi Yamazaki – All rights reserved'The Audience' by Xavier Veilhan
Olympic Agora 2/5
Photo: IOC/Yuichi YamazakiOlympic Agora
Japan Olympic Museum 3/5
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa Japan Olympic Museum
Tokyo Tokyo Festival4/5
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima; Global Bowl designed by Akihisa HirataOne of the installations for Tokyo Pavilion 2021
Tokyo Tokyo Festival5/5
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima; Cloud pavilion designed by Sou FujimotoOne of the installations for Tokyo Pavilion 2021. Location: Yoyogi Park

How to enjoy the Tokyo Olympics even when you can’t watch the Games in person

Here are six on-ground and online events where you can rally for the world’s biggest sporting competition

By Emma Steen
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This is it – the teams have landed, the Olympic Village is open and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are now underway. While the current circumstances aren’t what we hoped for as Tokyo hosts the world’s biggest sporting event, the Summer Olympics are finally going ahead after a year’s delay. Major adjustments had to be made to ensure the event would be as safe as possible for everyone involved, but don’t let spectator bans and cancelled plans dampen your enthusiasm for this historical spectacle. 

After all, the Olympic and Paralympic Games have grown to become far more than just a series of spectator sports. Not cheering in the stands? Soak up the history of the Olympics through exhibitions, or revisit iconic moments of previous Olympic events via the official online broadcasters of Tokyo 2020.

Unlike live spectator events, some of these features can also be accessed online regardless of where you are in the world. Here are the best ways to still experience the Tokyo 2020 Olympic spirit even though the public is not allowed into the stadiums.

Recommended: Olympic venues you should visit in Tokyo

Japan Olympic Museum
Japan Olympic Museum
Photo: Japan Olympic Museum

Japan Olympic Museum

Things to do Shinanomachi

Right across from the Japan National Stadium is the modern Japan Olympic Museum, where you can learn about the fascinating history and philosophy behind the world’s most iconic sporting event. The facility features a plethora of immersive and high-tech exhibits that make it far more exciting than your average gallery of memorabilia kept in glass cabinets.

Here you can relive key moments from previous Olympics via an immersive audio-visual system, and play interactive games to compare your strength and speed with the abilities of the world’s top athletes. Conclude your visit with a peaceful stroll through the outdoor Monument Area and see the three different Olympic cauldrons from previous Games held in Japan.

kusama
kusama
Kisa Toyoshima

Tokyo Tokyo Festival

Coinciding with the run-up to the Tokyo Olympic Games is the Tokyo Tokyo Festival, which comprises 13 arts and cultural projects. The featured projects were selected from a staggering 2,436 proposals submitted by local creatives. 

Highlights include the multi-site Pavilion Tokyo installations featuring Yayoi Kusama’s Obliteration Room among others, a pair of record-breaking murals on two skyscrapers in Marunouchi, and the Tokyo Sento Festival in which artists paint new murals in some of Tokyo’s long-standing public bathhouses.

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Mahabharata
Mahabharata
Photo: Gorgorseta

Nippon Festival

Officially endorsed by the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Nippon Festival is a months-long showcase of art and Japanese culture. Events range from theatrical performances to visual art exhibitions and they take place in different regions across Japan through the end of September. This includes a production of Mahabharata that will take place at Nakano Zero in Tokyo. The theatre drama, based on a Sanskrit epic poem, will be performed by a mixed cast of Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai and Indian actors. 

Some events, like the giant puppet installation titled ‘Mocco's Journey from Tohoku to Tokyo...and then the World’, are held online and can be viewed for free. See the Nippon Festival official website for the full programme.

Olympic Agora
Olympic Agora
Photo: IOC/Yuichi Yamazaki

Olympic Agora

Art Coredo Muromachi, Nihonbashi

This showcase held at the Coredo Muromachi Terrace is the perfect mix of sport and culture. The collection features both important relics of previous Olympic events as well as modern artworks that symbolise the Olympic spirit. Artists selected for the exhibition include celebrated French sculptor Xavier Veilhan, whose site-specific installation titled ‘The Audience’ was specially commissioned by the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage. 

Alongside the physical exhibition, there are three virtual tours available on the Olympic Agora website: the Olympic Spirit Exhibition, the Contemporary Art programme, and the Olympic Artists in Residence – Noren Curtains Project.

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Gorin.jp
Gorin.jp
Photo: Gorin.jp

Playback iconic moments from past Olympic Games

Gorin.jp, an official online broadcaster of Tokyo 2020, will be streaming this year’s Summer Olympics once the Games open. Until then, you can revisit iconic moments from previous Summer and Winter Olympics on the site for free, with clips dating back 13 years. 

You don’t even have to be familiar with sport to feel the excitement or the significance behind each record breaking moment. From the day Naoko Takashi won Japan’s first gold medal for women’s track and field in Sydney 2000, to the time Yuki Ota won Japan’s first silver medal for fencing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, these powerful snippets will fuel your anticipation for what’s to come.

Masaaki Kasuga Exhibition, Tokyo, 1964
Masaaki Kasuga Exhibition, Tokyo, 1964
Photo: Masaaki Kasuga

Masaaki Kasuga Exhibition, Tokyo, 1964

Museums JCII Photo Salon, Hanzomon

Nearly 60 years ago, Tokyo was getting ready to host its first Olympic Games in 1964. Just as we’ve seen in the lead-up to Tokyo 2020, preparations for the 1964 Games transformed the city forever. Until August 1, the JCII Camera Museum Photo Salon is holding a photography exhibition of Masaaki Kasuga's works that captured the changing cityscape of Tokyo and its environs in 1964.

Kasuga’s photographs track the development of Tokyo and its surroundings, with Olympic monuments, buildings and new highways built one after another. Over 77 snapshots, Kasuga depicts the vibrant optimism of the period, capturing the excitement of people heading towards Olympic sites and visiting stores and venues covered in celebratory flags and lanterns.

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