For millions of athletes, sponsors, fans, and indeed all of humanity, the cancellation of Tokyo 2020 was a necessary disappointment. At no time in the last fifty years has the world needed an Olympics as much as this year.
Fortunately, the Tokyo Organizing Committee and the International Committee acted quickly and rescheduled the games which will begin on July 23, 2021.
And the Tokyo Organizing Committee deserves a lot of credit for making the correct though controversial branding call of keeping the branding for the 32nd Olympiad as Tokyo 2020. Here’s why:
With climate and environmental issues among the most pressing global issues – pre-COVID-19 – the Tokyo Organizing Committee sends a strong message that all existing materials can and will be used around the Olympics which will be held in 2021. Countless materials will now be used instead of ending up in landfills or oceans.
Beyond saving these materials, Tokyo 2020 has created a platform for communicating the importance of environmental causes as a result of their actions.
In addition to the environmental savings, Tokyo 2020 is also saving a lot of time and money on redesigning and reproducing materials with the new logo. Given all of the challenges that the organizing committee is facing with the new timeline in a world struggling with COVID-19, not having to redo their brand book for sponsoring and other marketing partners is significant.
As substantial as these environmental and financial considerations are, the most important reason for maintaining Tokyo 2020 branding is the narrative. With the world still dealing with the most momentous global occurrence since World War II without knowing what the global toll will be, maintaining the Tokyo 2020 branding is both logical and emotionally comforting.
For those who have and are suffering, it will be a poignant reminder. For the millions who have been forced to continue their work and school from home or have been laid off while also adding additional day time duties as teachers and caregivers, it will be a reminder of this most surreal time when friends, relatives, and colleagues across all 24 time zones came together to share a common experience.
The real opportunities for how best to utilize Tokyo 2020 will only materialize after the day-to-day challenges of dealing COVID-19 are behind us. Now, we’re too busy inquiring about the well being of friends, family, and colleagues. But in a few months, think of the range of potential opportunities around our mutual experience dealing with COVID-19.
What COVID-19 has made painfully clear is that the world must be more prepared for the next viral outbreak. The Tokyo Organizing Committee has the opportunity to partner with philanthropic institutions like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to initiate global challenges for developing viral analyses and modeling systems that will aid in discovering potential cures.
Another potential issue that can be embraced in the spirit of the Olympics is an improved global medical supply chain to help not only victims of viral infections but others who still suffer globally from diseases that should not be as prevalent as they are in 2020. The last time the Olympics were canceled was during World War II, with their return in 1948 in St. Mortiz, Switzerland and London. Those Olympics were impacted by the post-war global environment and the exclusion of Germany and Japan from participating.
Next year, we have the opportunity to be inclusive as we seek out meaningful ways to work together as one world. I can’t think of many marketers who wouldn’t embrace that. What a wonderful branding for Tokyo 2020!