Facing historic restrictions, local and international journalists have a new tool in covering the latest stories coming out of Japan during the Summer Olympics and Paralympics.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government debuted on Wednesday, July 21, a virtual media center for journalists who are unable to travel to the Japanese capital or leave the tightly controlled Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Approximately 6,000 members of the media are expected to descend upon Tokyo to cover the Games, with many expecting restrictions on certain venues for set periods of time to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The Tokyo Media Center, which operates independently from the Olympic International Media Center (IMC), is located in the heart of the capital near the Ginza shopping district in a building that once housed a theatre run by the all-female troupe Takarazuka.
And while they often played pieces such as “West Side Story” to a packed audience, crowds are one thing this media center is not expecting.
“We aren’t expecting any spectators at the Olympic venues, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic we also don’t expect to be receiving many visitors from around the world,” said Kouichirou Hori, director for Tokyo 2020 Media Center.
“That is why we’ve switched to providing information online,” he added. “This is possibly the first time we’ve seen a media center in a major convention set up like this.”
The TMC, as it is abbreviated, can be accessed virtually by any member of the media, including freelancers, through its online registration page.
Once registered, members will be able to access information and media content such as photos and videos, daily live-streamed Tokyo Metropolitan briefings and twice daily
newsletters that include updates on the city’s latest coronavirus numbers.
The TMC will also provide media with what they are calling an Online Concierge service that will be able to answer media coverage inquiries via chat, email or online forms. A body of over 100 staff have been trained to deal with a variety of possible requests and inquiries as diligently and quickly as possible.
“The role of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Media Center is to support the media in their news gathering activities, so it is important to answer inquiries politely and with a sense of speed,” explained Eriko Tanaka of the Tokyo Media Center, who was involved in training many of the TMC staff.
“Media from all over the world are paying attention to Tokyo because of this event, so I hope we can also convey the charm of Tokyo through the media,” she added.
The TMC also plans regular live and recorded presentations by top Tokyo leaders, including Governor Yuriko Koike and others in such fields as sports, culture and urban development, who will be showcasing these charms.
For registered journalists in Tokyo who are able to travel around the city, the TMC is offering use of its spacious center, which can seat approximately 120 people, and an on-site information desk staffed near the entrance and accessible through a QR Code following the registration procedure.
After four years of preparation and despite a myriad of last-minute adjustments made on behalf of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for both spectators and media, the staff at the TMC are both relieved and anxious that the center is finally opening.
“To be honest, we are relieved we can finally show people around the world our Tokyo, but also a bit nervous, after all these years of preparation and the postponement (of the Games),” Hori said.
The center will be open during the Tokyo Olympics from Wednesday, July 21, to Monday, Aug. 9, and during the Paralympics from Monday, Aug. 23, to Sunday, Sept. 5. The office in downtown Tokyo will be open to registered media from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. during those days.
To learn more about registration with the Tokyo Media Center for access to all the latest stories out of Japan during the Summer Olympics and Paralympics, please visit https://tokyo.mediacenter.jp/.
To register, please visit https://tokyo.mediacenter.jp/?modal=register
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/tokyomediacenter
Tokyo, JAPAN – 14 July 2021
1. Closeup of Tokyo Media Center sign
2. Wide of Tokyo Media Center
3. Wide tilt down of Tokyo Media Center
4. Moving shot of Tokyo Media Center facilities
5. Moving shot of Tokyo Media Center facilities
6. SOUNDBITE (Japanese) Kouichirou Hori, Director for Tokyo 2020 Media Center
“Since there will be no spectators and considering the COVID-19 situation, it is clear we won't be able to welcome many visitors from around the world. We established the facility to be able to distribute as much content online as possible all over the world.”
7. Mid shot of Tokyo Media Center
8. SOUNDBITE (Japanese) Kouichirou Hori, Director for Tokyo 2020 Media Center
“From this Media Center, we can send information anytime, anywhere and in this way, convey to the whole world what’s happening in Tokyo as the Olympics approach.”
9. Closeup up of chat interface for sending questions to the Tokyo Media Center - Sample shot
10. Closeup up of chat interface for sending questions to the Tokyo Media Center - Sample shot
11. Closeup of computer screen showing an enquiry being received - Sample shot
12. Tokyo Media Center staff replying to an online enquiry - Sample shot
13. Mid shot, right pan of staff replying to an enquiry online - Sample shot
14. Computer screen as staff replies to an enquiry online - Sample shot
15. SOUNDBITE (Japanese) Kouichirou Hori, Director for Tokyo 2020 Media Center
“Since the service we are providing is online, we set up a chat system with the aim to provide a speedy response service, thanks to the backing of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.”
16. Wide of staff at the Tokyo Media Center
17. Setup shot of Eriko Tanaka, Senior Staff Member for Tokyo 2020 Media Center
18. SOUNDBITE (Japanese) Eriko Tanaka, Senior Staff Member for Tokyo 2020 Media Center
“During the Olympics and Paralympics, the governor of Tokyo and special guests will participate in our daily “TMC Talks” broadcasts and we invite members to follow these sessions online.”
19. Mid shot of staff at the Tokyo Media Center
20. SOUNDBITE (Japanese) Eriko Tanaka, Senior Staff Member for Tokyo 2020 Media Center
“During the Games we will publish newsletters twice a day, in the mornings and in the evenings Japan time.”
21. Wide right pan of staff being trained at the Tokyo Media Center
22. Mid shot of staff being trained at the Tokyo Media Center
23. Closeup of staff being trained at the Tokyo Media Center
24. SOUNDBITE (Japanese) Eriko Tanaka, Senior Staff Member for Tokyo 2020 Media Center
“Including Tokyo Metropolitan Government staff, we will have more than 100 members ready to answer questions from the media. “
25. Moving shot showing desks and COVID-19 countermeasures in place at the Tokyo Media Center
26. Mid right pan of facilities at the Tokyo Media Center