The eyes of sports lovers around the world are currently on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which is held from 23 July 2021 – 8 August 2021. Having been postponed for a year, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have also drawn criticism as it is held in the midst of a pandemic. Even so, this quadrennial world sports competition is still warmly welcomed by most sports lovers around the world.

The Japanese government together with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) also assured the world that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics would be held safely and with strict health protocols. In addition, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has been named the most environmentally friendly due to the implementation of sustainability in various aspects. What are they and is it successfully implemented?

Eco-Friendly Aspects at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Towards Zero Carbon

Ensure that this is the first Olympics to be carbon neutral using renewable energy in all areas. For example:

  • Toyota’s e-Pallette Electric Vehicle

This vehicle is designed to transport Olympic athletes around the Olympic Village without producing carbon emissions. Toyota modified its existing e-Palette vehicles to better suit the needs of athletes who need convenient and hassle-free transportation.

  • Olympic Torch Fuel

The flames on the relay torch and cauldron are hydrogen-fueled instead of fossil gas.

Zero Waste

Toshiro Muto, CEO of The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games stated, “Tokyo 2020 Olympics aims to reduce deforestation and land damage caused by the exploitation of natural resources. At the same time contributing to zero waste by utilizing natural resources without waste throughout the supply chain.” It is implemented in several aspects, for example:

  • Torch by Tokujin Yoshioka

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics torch, designed by Tokujin Yoshioka, is made from recycled construction waste. Taken from a temporary housing used for the post great earthquake and tsunami in 2011 in East Japan. Yoshioka used the extrusion technique to produce a 71 cm long rose-gold torch, which resembles Japan’s national flower, the cherry blossom.

  • Medal from Electronic Waste

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics medals were designed by Japanese designer Junichi Kawanishi made out of recycled old cell phones and other electronic waste donated by the public. The material is used to make a ribbon-like reflective ring around the edge of the medal. The medal’s design was chosen from a competition that was participated by more than 400 professional designers and students. Meanwhile, the medal’s case is made of colored Japanese ash wood, designed by Shinya Yoshida.

  • National Team Uniform from Plastic Waste

The Nike brand contributed to the design of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic basketball, soccer, and skateboarding national team uniforms which are said to be the most environmentally friendly and high-performance uniforms. The uniform, which was made for the United States, South Korea, France, Brazil, and Nigeria national teams, uses polyester fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. In addition, it also uses recycled nylon, waste rubber, and factories’ leftover yarn.

Not only Nike, but the Spanish national team uniform designer also made the uniforms from 100% recycled materials. The uniforms used by the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torchbearers are also made from recycled plastic waste.

  • Cardboard Bed

In order to realize a waste-free Olympics, the organizers prepared a bed made of lightweight but strong cardboard and adapted to the needs of the athletes. This mattress is produced as many as 18,000 pieces by the Japanese bedding company, Airweave. The brand also claims that the mattress for this bed is made of polyethylene fiber which can be recycled in unlimited quantities. Later, as many as 8,000 beds and mattresses will be reused for Paralympic athletes.

  • Podium from Household Waste

The winners at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will receive medals on a podium made from 24.5 tons of recycled household plastic. Japanese artist Asao Tokolo collects plastic from Japanese society before recycling the material and turning it into filament, which is used to 3D print the podium. The equivalent of 400,000 bottles of laundry detergent was collected to create the 98 podiums used during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

  • Olympic Village Plaza made of Loan Wood

Tokyo studio Nikken Sekkei designed a wooden communal building in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic athletes village, built using 40,000 pieces of donated Japanese wood. The building is temporary and serves as a central meeting place for athletes in the Olympic Village. It includes a cafe, medical room, bank, hair salon, retail space, and media center.

Did it Work?

The various environmentally friendly aspects of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics above deserve our appreciation. Although still not perfect, the efforts of the IOC and Japan to protect the earth from adding more wastes must also be imitated, especially by international event organizers. Masako Konishi, climate and energy project leader at the World Wildlife Fund Japan and a member of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics sustainability committee, said, “The Tokyo 2020 Olympics can be both a role model for reducing carbon emissions and a role model for hosting the next Olympics.”