The Soundtrack of the 2020 Olympic Games

The Olympic Games was a celebration of sport for sure, but music always plays a pivotal role to our shared experience of the games.

Did you watch this year’s Olympic Games? If not, you missed out on one of the most unique Olympic Games so far.  With impactful delay due to the horrific happenings of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics pushed through with an extraordinary comeback, filled with historic and heartfelt moments for athletes all around the world. 

Despite enduring mishaps and various unprecedented controversies, the 2020 Olympics returned with the theme “moving forward” about recovering from the COVID-19 happenings. 

Co-produced by Ryosuke Imai, the theme song Colorful was performed by artists such as AI, Motohiro Hata, Little Glee Monster, Daichi Miura, Perfume, SHINee’s Taemin, MIYAVI, Nasty C, Sabrina Carpenter, Ayumu Imazu, Blue Vintage, Mizki, Sanari, and more as they show a reflection of hope your a diverse collective of musicians in a powerful, and moving project. 


Opening Ceremony 

Music has been at the forefront of the Olympic opening ceremonies since 1896. This year, Japanese Star MISIA performed the Japanese national anthem, the short hymn titled Kimigayo

Live music and dance were heavily played as much of the opening ceremony paid respect to the health care workers of the COVID-19 pandemic performing Work Song, a traditional carpenter song that would be sung during chiseling and woodwork. Toward the end of the ceremony, the child singers of the Suriname Junior Chorus, along with artists from Africa, Europe, and America sang a moving rendition of Imagine by John Lennon. 

This year, the Olympics made history as it welcomed four new sports to the competitive roster such as skateboarding. 

Representing Japan, Japanese teenager Momiji Nishiya won the women’s street skateboarding gold medal! 

Other historic moments included Philippines weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, winning the country’s first-ever gold medal. Through the midst of epic wins, music narrated these historic moments. Various kinds of tunes helped set the mood. 

From video games soundtracks to K-pop hits, here are some songs and projects that soundtracked the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 


Video Game Music

As Tokyo was the location of this year’s Olympic Games, much of the region’s music culture played a crucial part in motivating the athletes to achieve excellence. 

As music aids in making players feel a wide range of emotions, video game music soundtracks were used to keep the athletes energetic. Iconic pieces from varying video games such as Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, and even Sonic the Hedgehog, were popular soundtracks to keep the games full speed ahead. 



Along with referencing the world of video game music, this year’s Olympics also used the sound of Japanese anime to fill the stadiums. This year, viewers were able to hear the sounds of anime’s Slam Dunk opening theme song during the Olympic basketball events. 

The Haikyuu theme song lingered through the volleyball stadium, Attack on Titans theme song pumped up the archery contestants, and Demon Slayer theme song was used for the gymnastics competition. 


K-Pop Hits

According to Bandwagon. Asia, K-pop continued its world domination at this year’s Olympics with numerous BTS songs such as Dream Glow ft. Charli XCX. Other sounds included NCT 127’s “Kick It” was played during the football game, while SEVENTEEN’s Very Nice was the easing soundtrack for the volleyball match. Additionally, the popular K-pop girl group, BLACKPINK made their music heard also through a few volleyball matches. 


The Closing Ceremony 

As the Olympic Games came to an end, the closing ceremony was filled with speeches, dancers, jugglers, and other artistic elements. Although the energy of the diverse olympic crowd and fans was not present, much of the musical aspect of the ceremony remained strong. 

Drumming in a huge Taiko, along with a ska band, stood out as a unique event in the closing ceremony. Musicians such as Rina Sawayama and Elton John sang their beautiful song Chosen Family to commence the ending of the Olympic Games, however, some fans of the Olympic Games were not happy with the somewhat-somber ending to the historic competition. 

Oskar Garcia critiqued the closing ceremony as they proclaimed that the Rio Games four years ago, ended with a celebratory dance party on the floor of the stadium. This year’s closing felt sad like the ending credits of a bittersweet flick. 

On a positive note, The Japanese culture that was missing in the opening ceremony made a prominent presence at the closing ceremony. Harajuku fashion, Ainu dance, and other J-pop hits showed a strong presence as they celebrated Japan and its dynamic culture. 

The closing ceremony also foreshadowed the next location for the future Olympic Games. 

With Paris being the potential next location for the Olympic Games, many athletes and fans hope to have a more festive and celebratory environment and atmosphere, without the anxiety and fear of the COVID-19 happenings. 

Many of which hope to ditch the quarantining and the PCR tests in hope of celebrating the essence of athletic sportsmanship and the true love for the games.

Away from the Olympic Games, YTIM has launched a brand new podcast:

Youth Time International Movement Launches The Youth Time Podcast

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