Tokyo 2020: Sustainability Update Highlights Safety, Gender and Climate Change
The postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 has required the organisers to refine the event, simplifying, adapting and doing everything possible to support the realisation of a society “where everybody can thrive”, an official Tokyo 2020 sustainability update says.
The update, which builds on the April 2020 Pre-Games Sustainability Report, highlights three priorities: ensuring the safety of the Games vis-à-vis COVID-19, promoting gender equality and addressing climate change. It also highlights ways in which the Games organisation has been adapted to the unprecedented postponement.
“Following an unprecedented one-year postponement due to the pandemic and in the wake of the major impact on people’s lives around the world, the Tokyo 2020 Games have taken on new significance as a symbol of unity and solidarity,” Tokyo 2020 President Hashimoto Seiko says.
“The most important aspect of these Games is their safe and secure operation, and acknowledging the concerns that many people in Japan and other countries have about the staging of the Games, we are continuing preparations while ensuring safety is our top priority. In addition, we are revisiting one of the Tokyo 2020 Games’ core concepts of “Unity in Diversity – Accepting One Another", and we are doing everything we can to support the realisation of a society where everybody can thrive. We hope that our approach to addressing what are universal sustainability challenges becomes part of the legacy of the Games.”
While emphasising the importance of safety at the Tokyo Games, the update acknowledges the renewed attention to and progress on gender equality. Following the appointment of Seiko as the new Tokyo 2020 President in February 2021, under her leadership Tokyo 2020 increased the number of women on its Executive Board to 42 per cent of the membership, and reaffirmed gender equality and inclusion as a key priority of the Olympic Games.
“Going forward, we plan to hold dialogues with younger generations and other stakeholders,” the update says, referring to the core Tokyo 2020 concept of “Unity in Diversity” and the aim to foster a society marked by mutual respect and equal opportunity. “Our goal is for people to look back on the Tokyo 2020 Games as a major turning point for Japan.
Reducing the environmental footprint
As a result of the Games’ postponement, their organisation has been simplified and their carbon footprint reduced. The Tokyo Games were originally expected to generate 2.73 million t-CO2 of carbon emissions, but the March 2020 decision by the organisers that overseas spectators would not be allowed to attend the Games will lead to a reduction of emissions from the travel and accommodation of overseas spectators by around 340,000t-CO2, the update says.
The Tokyo Games will go beyond their initial commitment of carbon neutrality, and will remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they emit. Carbon compensation equal to 4.38 million t-CO2 is currently planned.
A final calculation on emissions will be made when the Games have finished, and this will be included in the Tokyo 2020 post-Games Sustainability Report. The update outlines initiatives to minimise the Games’ environmental footprint and to demonstrate the shift towards a circular economy and a hydrogen-based society. Venues make widespread use of renewable energy, including hydrogen. Where it has not been possible to procure renewable energy, Tokyo 2020 is using green power certificates to compensate for the use of non-renewable electricity.
As part of an initiative by Worldwide Olympic Partner P&G, 24.5 tonnes of recyclable plastic waste were collected and used in the construction of the 98 victory ceremony podiums that will be used during the Tokyo 2020 Games. Plastic was collected with the cooperation of the people of Japan, who donated used household plastics for recycling, together with approximately 2,000 major department stores and 113 schools and other educational institutions.
Approximately 90 percent of the 2,654 Games vehicles will be electric-drive vehicles, including hydrogen fuel cell, plug-in hybrid and other hybrid vehicles, thanks to Worldwide Olympic Partner Toyota. “Many of our initiatives symbolise the change we seek in creating a green, circular economy,” the update says.
For more information and to access the Tokyo 2020 Update to Sustainability Pre-Games Report, click here.