UPDATE | Japan’s Solar Bid: An “Olympics for the Earth”

Artist rendering of the proposed all-solar Olympic stadium

Artist's rendering of the proposed all-solar Olympic stadium

UPDATE/ 2 October 2009/ IOC Picks Rio de Janeiro

Wonderful effort, Japan! Congratulations, Rio!

Yesterday in Copenhagen, Japan made what is likely its final attempt to convince the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that Tokyo is the natural choice to host the 2016 summer Olympics

“By awarding Tokyo the 2016 Games,” said Ichiro Kono, head of the Tokyo 2016 bid campaign, “the IOC will enable a new model of sustainability…(and) environmental best practice.”

The centerpiece of that model is the proposed main stadium, which will be powered entirely by solar panels on a massive circular roof that appears to float above the stadium.

Speaking in the European capital city where the UN Climate Change Conference will begin in just 68 days, the Japanese delegation underscored a link between the two events.

Tangible Earth project by Shin-Ichi Takemura

Tangible Earth project by Shin-Ichi Takemura

Shin-ichi Takemura, a cultural anthropologist and media designer who is helping plan the proposed Olympic site, pointed out, “Half of the world’s population now live in cities, and the huge emissions from urban areas endanger the earth. Tokyo is ready to tackle this issue….Tokyo 2016 will be ‘the Olympics for the Earth,’ showing an alternative future for our planet.”

One of Takemura’s projects was on display yesterday — an interactive digital globe, that renders in real time, clouds, air temperature, ocean currents and many more planetary phenomena, for the entire Earth. It can also be programed to display the effects of global warming, the spread of pollution, migratory bird routes and much more.

The Olympic village will have a small footprint, physically and environmentally. It will be built in downtown Tokyo to minimize the distance between sporting venues and other attractions and lodging.

Paul Tange, an urban planner and architect, also emphasized Japan’s commitment to making the Games a showcase of sustainability. Tange reminded the IOC that the stadium designed by his father, Kenzo Tange, for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics is still a thriving, much-used sports center.

1964 Tokyo Olympic Stadium

1964 Tokyo Olympic Stadium

When the IOC announces the result of its vote this Friday, they’ll name either Tokyo, Chicago, Madrid or Rio de Janeiro. President Barack Obama is making a trip to Copenhagen to lobby for the Windy City, a move that has many pundits (American) claiming that Chicago is the clear favorite.

Whichever city gets the nod, Tokyo has put together an exciting vision of environmentally sound, sustainable practices that will give urban planners and environmental advocates a lot to think about beyond 2016.

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