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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
Special project:<br>Japan through the lens of the Tokyo Olympics</br>

Links to book

Paperback & Hardcover
Open Access E-Book

Author Interviews

Watch our author interviews on the DIJ YouTube channel


Complete List of Authors (PDF, 294 KB)

In the media

Barbara Holthus quoted in AP article about legacy of Tokyo Olympics (7/2022)

Barbara Holthus interviewed by BBC World News about health safety during Olympics (8/2021)

Barbara Holthus on Olympic successes and failures in English-language issue of Asahi Shimbun  (7/2021)

Barbara Holthus in German radio hr2 on Olympics during the pandemic (7/2021)

Barbara Holthus on PRI‘s radio programme The World on the lack of safety precautions (6/2021)

Barbara Holthus in Swiss radio SRF on Olympic skepticism in Japan (6/2021)

Barbara Holthus on Olympic volunteers and safety in CBC’s News Morning Show (6/2021)

Barbara Holthus on Olympic volunteers in Australian news programme Ticker News (6/2021)

Barbara Holthus on Olympic volunteers and Covid testing in CNN’s news show The Lead (6/2021)

Torsten Weber interviewed about Olympic mood in Japan by German newspaper Merkur (5/2021)

Torsten Weber interviewed about Olympic mood in Japan by German newspaper tz (5/2021)

Barbara Holthus in Zeit Online on Olympic volunteers (5/2021)

Barbara Holthus in German TV ZDF Sport-Reportage on Olympic volunteers and Covid risk (5/2021)

Barbara Holthus in German radio ARD on volunteers and Covid protection (4/2021)

Barbara Holthus in Japanese daily Mainichi Shinbun on Olympic volunteers (4/2021)

Barbara Holthus in Japanese TV show ‘Viking More’ on risks for Olympic volunteers (4/2021)

Barbara Holthus in CNN report on 100 days until the Tokyo Olympics (4/2021)

Barbara Holthus in CNN article on Olympic torch relay (3/2021)

Barbara Holthus on Olympic volunteers in New York Times article (3/2021)

Barbara Holthus in AP News article on Olympic sexist scandal (3/2021)

Barbara Holthus in Deutsche Welle on start of the Olympic torch relay (3/2021)

Barbara Holthus in Austrian national TV ORF ‘Sport am Sonntag’ on state of preparations (3/2021)

Barbara Holthus in AP News article on scandal over sexist comments (3/2021)

Sonja Ganseforth on anti-Olympic protests in Japan in Belgian daily De Standaard (2/2021)

Torsten Weber on Tokyo 1940 and nationalism in Japan in Zeit online (2/2021)

Barbara Holthus in German radio DLF Kultur on the waning enthusiasm for the Tokyo Olympics (in German) (1/2021)

Sonja Ganseforth on anti-Olympic movements in Japan in German daily taz (11/2020)

Sonja Ganseforth on anti-Olympic activism in Tokyo in AP News and Japan Times articles (11/2020)

Torsten Weber on nationalism and the promotion of the Tokyo Olympics in German weekly Der Spiegel (10/2020)

Barbara Holthus on postponement of Tokyo Olympics in Danish magazine Idraetsliv (9/2020)

Book added to the Olympic World Library and featured in the latest issue of New releases on Olympism and sport (p. 6)

Barbara Holthus on broken Olympic dreams in German radio Deutschlandfunk Kultur (7/2020)

Barbara Holthus on Japan’s Olympic ambitions for 2021 in Swiss media Blick (7/2020)

Barbara Holthus on Tokyo 2020, the pandemic, and internationalization in German radio Deutschlandfunk (7/2020)

Barbara Holthus interviewed on book publication, readme.txt blog (6/2020)

John Horne on book publication in latest eBulletin (p. 7-8) of the International Sociology of Sport Association (5/2020)

Barbara Holthus on volunteering in German newspaper Rhein Neckar Zeitung (5/2020)

Franz Waldenberger in DLF interview on economic consequences of Tokyo Olympics postponement (5/2020)

Barbara Holthus in DLF podcast on Tokyo Olympics volunteers (5/2020)

Franz Waldenberger in German weekly Wirtschaftswoche on economic consequences of Tokyo Olympics postponement (3/2020)

Franz Waldenberger in German daily Börsen-Zeitung on economic consequences of Tokyo Olympics postponement (3/2020)

Barbara Holthus in The Irish Sun on Tokyo Olympics postponement (3/2020)

Barbara Holthus in JDZB interview on Tokyo Olympics (3/2020)

Franz Waldenberger in ARD podcast Go to Tokyo to go #7 (1/2020)

Barbara Holthus in ARD podcast Go to Tokyo to go #6 (12/2019)

DIJ researchers interviewed by German radio ARD (11/2019)

DIJ researchers interviewed by Austrian national TV ORF for ‘Sport am Sonntag’ and ‘Sport Plus’ (5/2019)

Events & Presentations

Barbara Holthus, “Smiling behind the mask: Tokyo Olympics and its volunteers”, East Asian Studies Program, Princeton University (10/2021)

Barbara Holthus, “Tainted Love: Volunteering for the Pandemic Olympics” and Sonja Ganseforth “From ‘No Olympics 2020’ to ‘NOlympics Anywhere’: Reflecting on the Anti-Olympic Movements in Japan before and after Tokyo 2020/1”, Workshop Post-Olympics Japan: Renewal or Failure? (10/2021)

Barbara Holthus and Torsten Weber at INEAST East Asia Day, Duisburg-Essen University, “NOlympia? The Tokyo Games and what remains of them” (6/2021)

Sonja Ganseforth, “Spectacle and disaster – Opposition against the Tokyo 2020+1 ‘Recovery Games’” & Torsten Weber, “History, Remembrance, and Representation of the Olympics”, Sporting Japan: Manifestations of a Society in Transition, 19th Annual International E-Conference of Japanese Studies, Manila (3/2021)

Barbara Holthus, “Tokyo Olympics Postponed: How Japanese Society Responds”, UC San Diego Japan Forum Webinar Series (7/2020)

Hanno Jentzsch, “Sanya 2020 – Tokyos Tagelöhnerviertel vor den Olympischen Spielen”, Olympische Reihe Teil 2, OAG Tokyo (2/2020)

Barbara Holthus, “Tokyo 2020: Japans Versuch, sich neu zu erfinden”, Olympische Reihe Teil 1, OAG Tokyo (1/2020)

Panel on ‘Tokyo Through the Lens of the 2020 Olympics’, German Association for Social Science Research on Japan (VSJF), Annual Conference, Ruhr University Bochum/Germany (11/2019)

Briefing of Artists (Passagenwerk 2020) for Goethe-Institute Tokyo, Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center (5/2019)

DIJ Roundtable ‘Tokyo 2020 and Beyond: Legacies from Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games’ (10/2018)

Related Publications

Torsten Weber, “Olympic Dreams and Traumata. Looking back at Tokyo 2020”, IIAS Newsletter, 90, Autumn 2021, 14–15.

Sonja Ganseforth, ‘Anti-Olympic Rallying Points, Public Alienation, and Transnational Alliances’, The Asia-Pacific Journal (Japan Focus), Vol. 18, Issue 5, No. 1 (3/2020)

Barbara Holthus, ‘Wie Phönix aus der Asche – oder Japans Wunsch der Neuerfindung durch die Olympischen Spiele 2020’, DIJ Working Paper 20/1 (3/2020)

Special project:
Japan through the lens of the Tokyo Olympics


July 24, 2020 Tokyo was set to host the world's largest mega-sports event: The Olympic summer games. Due to the pandemic, the games have been postponed to begin on July 23, 2021. Since May 2018, the DIJ has researched about social, economic, and political aspects of the Olympic and Paralympic games. In the center of this research project stands the open-access book Japan through the lens of the Tokyo Olympics. Editors and authors are the DIJ's current and past researchers, as well as cooperation partners. The book addresses both the academic community as well as the general public, with short, highly accessible chapters.

Tokyo 2020 was constructed to embrace diversity and inclusiveness in society, foster sustainability, boost Japan's economy, improve social cohesion, create a feeling of unity and pride for the country, and increase citizens' active participation in fostering the well-being of society. By using the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as a lens onto city and country, the book offers hidden insights and new perspectives on city planning, cultural politics, financial issues, language use, security concepts, education, volunteerism and construction work. It explains the many stakeholders, institutions, average citizens, interest groups, and protest groups involved, and features the struggle over Tokyo's extreme summer heat, food standards, the implementation of diversity in regard to disabilities, sexual minorities and technological innovations.

The book is now available in paperback, hardcover and as open access book.

NEW  Watch our author interview series featuring fifteen of our authors who introduce their chapters in short videos on the DIJ YouTube channel. They also address the impact of the postponement (and potential cancellation) of Tokyo 2020 on Japan, their chapter topic, and on their research.

“This is the first – and possibly only – book which explains contemporary Japan through the prism of the Olympics and the Olympics through the lens of Japanese society. Full of fascinating insights and information, it is sure to become a bible for anyone intending to attend (or even just watch) the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Definitely a winner.” -- Roger Goodman, University of Oxford

“This book is the perfect companion for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Its short, readable chapters by Japan specialists are full of intriguing information about past and present Olympics in Tokyo, and how hosting the Olympic games reshapes the city of Tokyo. [...] Take this book along as you ride the trains and explore the city. It will be valuable long after the last medal has been awarded.” -- Patricia Steinhoff, University of Hawaii,

“This comprehensive collection by experienced Japan researchers offers highly informative and smartly written commentaries on the social, political, and economic ramifications of Tokyo 2020. [...] This is an essential briefing for anyone wishing to know what is at stake as Tokyo hosts this global sporting mega-event.” -- William W. Kelly, Yale University and author of The Sportsworlds of the Hanshin Tigers: Professional Baseball in Modern Japan

“This volume assembles scholars with a broad spectrum of expertise who provide a thorough overview of the key topics surrounding the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Most impressive is that it blends keen analysis of the major issues for Japan with equally keen analysis of the major issues for the Olympic Games. This insightful overview of the intersection of Japan with the Olympics has something for everyone, whether academics, journalists, fans of Olympics or fans of Japan.” -- Susan Brownell, St. Louis University and Author of Beijing Games: What the Olympics Mean to China

“Written by leading experts on Japanese sport and society, this is the perfect guide for anyone – sports fan, tourist, or armchair viewer - wanting to know the inside story about the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, Tokyo, and Japan in the 21st century.” -- John Horne, Waseda University and author of Understanding the Olympics,

“The 34 chapters cover a wide range of topics—including politics, economy, society, culture, media, cinema, architecture, and, of course, sports—to provide the reader with keen insights into how, in leading up to 2020, Japan is shaping, and being shaped, by the Olympics. An outstanding guide for those seeking to understand contemporary Japan and its future direction.” -- Glen S. Fukushima, Former President, American Chamber of Commerce in Japan


  1. Understanding Japan through the lens of Tokyo 2020
    Barbara Holthus, Isaac Gagné, Wolfram Manzenreiter, Franz Waldenberger
  2. Olympics and the media
    Wolfram Manzenreiter
  3. Skateboarding: “F*** the Olympics”
    Wolfram Manzenreiter
  4. Political games
    Axel Klein
  5. Number games: The economic impact of Tokyo 2020
    Franz Waldenberger
  6. Climbing: New sport on the block
    Wolfram Manzenreiter
  7. Advertising the Games: Sponsoring a new era
    Isaac Gagné
  8. Karate: Bowing to the Olympics in style
    Wolfram Manzenreiter
  9. Herculean efforts: What the construction of the Olympic Stadium reveals about working conditions in Japan
    Steffen Heinrich
  10. Tokyo 2020 and neighborhood transformation: Reworking the entrepreneurial city
    Ralph Lützeler
  11. Ho(s)t city: Tokyo’s fight against the summer heat
    Jan Lukas Kuhn
  12. Tokyo’s architecture and urban structure: Change in an ever-changing city
    Florian Purkarthofer
  13. Success story: The 1964 Tokyo Olympics
    Torsten Weber
  14. San’ya 2020: From building to hosting the Tokyo Olympics
    Hanno Jentzsch
  15. Baseball/softball: One more homer for Japan
    Wolfram Manzenreiter
  16. Outdoor sports in the periphery: Far from the compact games
    Daniel Kremers
  17. Surfing: Taken with a grain of salt
    Wolfram Manzenreiter
  18. Tokyo’s 1940 “Phantom Olympics” in public memory: When Japan chose war over the Olympics
    Torsten Weber
  19. Upgrading Tokyo’s linguistic infrastructure for the 2020 Games
    Peter Backhaus
  20. Sexual minorities and the Olympics
    Maki Hirayama
  21. The Paralympic Games: Enabling sports and empowering disability
    Katharina Heyer
  22. Sex in the city
    Maki Hirayama
  23. Games of Romance? Tokyo in search of love and Unity in Diversity
    Nora Kottmann
  24. The 2020 Olympic mascot characters: Japan wants to make a difference
    Jan Lukas Kuhn
  25. Olympic education: How Tokyo 2020 shapes body and mind in Japan
    Wolfram Manzenreiter
  26. Sex in the Village
    Maki Hirayama
  27. Volunteering Japan-style: “Field cast” for the Tokyo Olympics
    Barbara Holthus
  28. The difference between zero and one: Voices from the Tokyo anti-Olympic movements
    Sonja Ganseforth
  29. Beyond 2020: Post-Olympic pessimism in Japanese cinema
    Jan Lukas Kuhn
  30. Tokyo 2020 from the regional sidelines
    Isaac Gagné
  31. Olympic leverages: The struggle for sustainable food standards
    Sonja Ganseforth
  32. Security for the Tokyo Olympics
    Sebastian Polak-Rottmann
  33. The Olympic and Paralympic Games as a technology showcase
    Franz Waldenberger
  34. Tokyo 2020: Connecting the past with the future
    Round table discussion with Munehiko Harada, John Horne, Wolfram Manzenreiter