More than half a century later, the world could once again celebrate that the Summer Olympics were coming back to Tokyo, Japan. I could only imagine that the 1964 games was an exciting time for the nation – a turning point to put the past behind and showcase the flourishment of technological development towards modern times. Moreover, seizing the moment to showcase Japan from its best.
Arguably, the 2020 edition was set to be no different, and preparations have been going on for years to make this event the best possible. The expectations were high because the 1964 Tokyo Olympics was such a successful event. Not just in demonstrating how far the country had come but also in celebrating a moment of peace where people across countries and cultures could meet, learn, and compete without troublesome political agendas.
Having lived in Tokyo for several years and seen many of the buildings and symbols around town from the previous event, it had passed my mind many times how big it really must have been to participate back then. The adventure for the athletes competing, viewing the games with great excitement, and being surrounded by the energetic environment meeting the Japanese culture at full display.
Although I missed my opportunity back then (simply wasn't born), perhaps, my best attempt to compete in anything close to an Olympic level was in one of my first fashion catwalks taking place in the Olympic venue of Yoyogi National Gymnasium. A beautiful structure next to Yoyogi Park, which was built for the swimming category. The building in itself is probably one of the funkiest architectural structures to view in all of Japan and the area can be highly recommend to pass by if you plan to visit Tokyo. You may wonder, how has a modeling job anything to do with sports and competition? Well, let me tell you about my intense first-time gig at the venue.
It all started with a previously held casting competing against other experienced models who had come with an attitude expressing that this will be "an easy walk in the park." Naturally, mine was not far from different but would later reveal that I had much to learn.
With all the preparation set, hair styled together with the latest makeup for men, the show had to begin. Together with two helpful assistances, I was on my spot with my rack of selected outfits to wear. The show had started all set and dressed in Tokyo fashion – one after the other model walked into a rather dark-lighted catwalk rockin' the scene with hefty metal tunes blasting the audience away.
In the middle of redressing for the second outfit, I quickly realized that everything wasn't simply "an easy walk in Yoyogi Park." When my name was called for the second run, we were having some problems getting the shoes on. The time felt brief when my casting boss came rushing towards me and lifted me across the fitting area and out on stage one foot barefooted. "No time to play around here," he said and pushed me out into the dark. Pretending that everything was as planned, I walked out there trying to cover an otherwise very noticeable bouncing tall man due to the height difference. Coming back in, and with some extra sweat and added pressure, the two assistances did their best to speed up the process and rushed to take off my clothes. This time, my pants plus underwear went off in one go, making the young assistances blush and apologize simultaneously.
The show carried on, and I made it all the way to the finish line. At least for a short moment. To my surprise, and perhaps, with a bit of luck, the whole display and all the struggle was only a rehearsal before the actual show had to be carried out. With such experience, it felt like I had just completed an Olympic marathon and running in fashion halfway with only one shoe on. In retrospect, this may actually not have been far from the reality of what athletes experience. Do you remember any athletes who had lost a shoe during the Olympics in the past? Perhaps, someone who also never gave up and made it all the way to the podium?
From a young age, sports have always interested me. In fact, I was so busy spending most of my time in the local sports center with badminton, soccer, handball, tennis, swimming, and more on the weekly program. With that in mind and the experiences and interest in Japan, it was an easy call to attempt and get tickets to experience the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. For real, this could be a legit chance to watch professionals perform at the highest level and enjoy new memories only possible in Japan.
When I was in Okinawa in the summer of 2019 (quite frankly, not at all a terrible place to visit), I was sitting with my smartphone – ready to refresh the site on the second the tickets were pushed to the public of my home country. Limited tickets were available, but we managed to pull in a few seats and were thrilled to go back to Tokyo the year later.
As we all know, the 2020 Olympics was postponed due to the covid pandemic. With the ongoing threat caused by the global situation, the event was in 2021 on the verge of being canceled entirely. That didn't happen and finally going to start as I'm publishing this post. Unfortunately, not being in Tokyo, as the tickets we all had hoped to use will be refunded, and the event will be carried out without spectators and tourists yet to enter the country.
Nevertheless, I think all Olympics are unique in their own way and could imbed values much more than just being a competition. The 2020 (2021) Olympics has its place, admittedly also equally as important as previous editions. It's to remind us that we should gather for a moment of peace, friendship, and togetherness. An event where we celebrate life through the act of sports and reminding us that life goes on if we stay positive – and should we fall, make mistakes, or even lose a shoe, get up and keep moving to reach our goals.
Wishing everyone the best of luck. Japan, thank you for hosting and for all the hard work making this Olympic a reality once again in Tokyo. Rest assured, I will be back when the time allows for new chapters to be made.