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The real Tokyo Olympics: Esports and the future of Japanese soft power

20 3 2
15.02.2020

Since winning the international bid over seven years ago, the Tokyo Olympics has been all Japan can talk about.

The Olympics have lodged into the popular consciousness as a symbol of pride; but also of Japan’s changing role in the world. If the 1964 Tokyo Games announced Japan’s rapid modernization, these Olympics aim to reposition Japan as a cultural, if no longer economic, superpower.

But there is another Olympics taking place in Tokyo, just before the traditional one. And this event has far more importance to the future of Japanese soft power. The Intel World Open will be the first major video game tournament of the decade held in Japan. Boasting official support from the International Olympic Committee, the Intel World Open hosts national teams from around the globe, just like the traditional Olympics. These nations will compete in two of the most popular titles in esports — Street Fighter and Rocket League — before crowning the medalists in Tokyo’s central Olympic Games area.

The event marks the first formal crossover between the Olympics and competitive video games. And the Intel World Open is critically important to Japan’s global influence, arguably more so than the Olympics........

© The Japan Times