Green Games: 5 Ways Tokyo 2020 Kept Its Promise To Be The Most Sustainable Olympics Yet - The Scene

Those controversial cardboard beds were part of a larger goal to reuse, reduce, and recycle.

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Ever since Japanese organizers released the plans of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, it was anticipated to be the greenest Olympics yet, especially since its organizers have pledged to map out various ways to reduce waste throughout 16 days of competition.

“From the outset, Tokyo 2020 has been dedicated to leveraging the opportunities provided by hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games to help build a more sustainable society,” says Tokyo Olympics senior director of sustainability organizer Yuki Arata.

In line with the United Nations sustainable development goals, the Tokyo Games focused on working with renewable energy, resource management, biodiversity, fair labor practices, and the development of a sustainable sourcing code. 

The comprehensive plans for a sustainable Olympics is a big feat considering the event welcomes over 11,300 athletes from over 200 countries. And the number doesn’t even include the coaching staff, Olympic village workers, press, and medical practitioners essential during the event.

But now that the Games have begun, we look into ways the Tokyo 2020 organizers have executed their promises for an eco-friendly global event.

From the torch being lit up using hydrogen to the recycled medals winning athletes will receive, we gather some interesting ways the world’s most significant sporting event has been executed. 

Recycled uniforms 

The Tokyo Olympic Association designed uniforms made of recycled plastic bottles gathered by Coca-Cola. The unisex kits are created with the Olympic Torch Relay concept that “hope lights our way.”

The predominantly white t-shirts and shorts were worn by the torchbearers such a figure skater Daisuke Takahashi, swimmer Kyoko Iwasaki, and marathon runner Yuko Arimori.  

Cardboard beds

Social media users sprang into a frenzy when the public discovered that the Olympic village’s beds would be made out of cardboard.

Although the organizers stated that the use of cardboard material avoids excess waste and is biodegradable, people speculated that the seemingly flimsy beds avoided intimacy amongst athletes (specifically because the pandemic is still ongoing). 

However, the organizers disclosed that the beds were not made deliberately to be sex-proof but to maintain sustainability in the village. It also seems that the beds aren’t so fragile after all, given the nine Israeli baseball players it got to hold as the athletes playfully “tested out” its weight capacity. 

Hydrogen Olympic torch 

The past Olympic torches have housed flames using propane, magnesium, resin, and oil. However, this year’s Olympic torch is the first-ever to be powered by hydrogen. In contrast to other fuels, hydrogen doesn’t produce harmful emissions like carbon dioxide when set alight.

Using hydrogen to light the torch that symbolizes peace and hope makes sense as the world journeys into a more sustainable future together.

Recycled precious medals

By the time the Games conclude on August 8, around 5,000 recycled gold, silver, and bronze medals would have been awarded to winning athletes.

The preparation for the medals started two years ago when the “Tokyo 2020 Medal Project” team started collecting almost 80,000 small electronic devices to make the medals.\

According to the Olympics’ website, they collated approximately 5,732 kilograms of precious recycled metals to add to the formulation of the eco-friendly medals. 

Zero-emission transport

Toyota’s “e-Pallete” (Tokyo 2020 version)
Photo from

With Toyota being a major sponsor of the 2020 Games, the Japanese automotive manufacturer has provided zero-emission vehicles within the Olympic village. Approximately 90 percent of the cars currently in use at the Olympics are “electrified” vehicles. 

The wide fleet of electric vehicles in use at the Olympics includes their FC bus and Mirai for people to move between venues. Within the vicinity, athletes and staff can utilize Toyota’s APM and electric scooters. In addition, their e-Palette, reminiscent of a golf cart, is used to get around the village.

Banner photo from @olympics on Instagram.

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