A new creative team led by Hiroshi Sasaki will shoulder the responsibility of designing and delivering “simpler” Opening and Closing Ceremonies at next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Tokyo 2020 organisers announced on Wednesday.

“The ceremonies will still be a great celebration to be enjoyed by the athletes and watching world but will likely take a simpler and more restrained approach designed to reflect the overall simplification of the Games and the potential need to still consider COVID-19 countermeasures.” Organisers said in a statement.

“We have therefore decided to create a new team organisation that will allow us to prepare for these ceremonies more quickly and efficiently in the limited time available.”

This is why seven creative directors have been reduced to one. Sasaki, who served in the previous planning team as the Executive Creative Director for the Paralympic Games, will now oversee all four ceremonies.

Tokyo 2020 expressed “heartfelt gratitude and utmost respect” to the former team headed by Chief Executive Creative Director Nomura Mansai for their dedication “to a very challenging mission of preparing the ceremonies” since their appointment in July 2018.

In February, Nomura said nearly 80 percent of work for the opening and closing ceremonies was complete. But the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games were postponed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 66-year-old Sasaki, an advertising agency owner, now has just seven months to revamp plans for “simplified” ceremonies that will “reflect and respect the world’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

“I want to express some sort of breakthrough or hope for the future,” he said, as reported by Kyodo News.

“This is a chance to change the inflated image of Olympic ceremonies as being flamboyant stage shows.”

Sasaki produced the “One Step Forward – +1 Message – TOKYO2020” programme which was held in July to mark one year to go. He was also responsible for the 2016 flag handover ceremony at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, which featured former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe dressed as Super Mario.

Tokyo 2020 organisers announced on Tuesday they will spend $900 million on COVID-19 countermeasures for the delayed Games.

Credit: AIPS Media