Comments from the Top (Executive Director of Broadcasting)
Summary of Press Conference (June, 2021)
On broadcast plans for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
(Comments by MASAGAKI Satoru, Executive Director of Broadcasting)
Today marks exactly one month before the opening of the Tokyo Olympics. The Tokyo Games, which are being held as we fight against the novel coronavirus, will be different from other Olympics. NHK will report thoroughly on how all the athletes have faced the pandemic. We will make various efforts to cheer for athletes not only in Japan, but also overseas. And while the Games are going on, NHK will continue to carefully report the latest news on the coronavirus, including information about infections. We will also respond quickly to broadcast news of disasters or other important incidents that impact everyone’s safety and security.
Firstly, I will talk about the Olympic broadcast schedule. Details of the broadcast plan are still being considered, so here is an outline.
An overview of General TV broadcasts
On General TV, we plan to broadcast “Tokyo 2020 Asa-Navi (Morning Navigation)”, a program that introduces major Olympic events of the day, in the morning slots when “Asaichi” and the morning serial drama are usually broadcast. “Asa-Navi” will take a close look at the athletes on a person level and ask them how they feel about participating in the Olympics during the coronavirus pandemic. Carrying on from “Asa-Navi”, a variety of Olympic events will be covered live until past 10 p.m., with news and other programs delivered in between. And in the evening, “Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Daily Highlights” will review the day’s competition results, along with interviews of medal winners and coverage of how medalists dealt with the pandemic.
Live broadcasts of the competitions will be delivered on six of our channels, including General TV, Educational TV, BS8K, and radio.
Terrestrial TV channels (General TV and Educational TV)
General TV’s first live event broadcast will be the softball match between Japan and Australia on July 21st. Then there will be the opening ceremony at 8p.m. on July 23rd. From the following day, there will be events such as judo, swimming, artistic gymnastics, and table tennis, in which there are high hopes for Japanese medals and a great deal of interest. The broadcast schedule for these events is still being finalized. Educational TV is planning live broadcasts of events such as skateboarding and sport climbing, which are popular among young people. Events broadcast on General TV and Educational TV will also be available on the NHK Plus online service.
BS1 will broadcast the performances of Japanese athletes and the top competitors from around the world that couldn’t be covered on the terrestrial channels, with both live and recorded segments, 24 hours a day.
BS4K and BS8K
This will be the first Olympics since the BS4K and BS8K channels began full broadcasts. We hope to provide viewers with a fully immersive experience that makes them feel like they are watching the events at the venues. BS4K will be simultaneously broadcasting with General TV, delivering the same major events live, but in ultra-high definition. BS8K is scheduled to broadcast the opening and closing ceremonies and seven events, including swimming, athletics, and judo.
There will be live coverage of eight events, including swimming and athletics, on Radio 1. You will be able to listen to the broadcasts on NHK’s “Radiru ★ Radiru” app and on the “radiko” online platform. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the final details of the broadcast plan for some sports are yet to be decided. We will announce them as soon as they are ready.
In addition to the broadcasts, we will be trying new things as the Games are taking place during a pandemic. For example, we are planning to conduct a survey of the whole Japanese Olympic team. We will ask about what kind of difficulties they faced during the pandemic and their thoughts on the Games, and present the findings during broadcasts and on our website. And NHK is now running a “Sekai o Oen Shiyo! (Let’s Cheer for the World!)” project. There are different and distinctive cheer chants around the world, such as Japan’s “Nippon cha-cha-cha” and the United States’ “U-S-A, U-S-A”. Videos of people demonstrating these chants are posted on our website. As many overseas fans cannot come to Japan, we hope that people will learn the chants and cheer Japanese and overseas athletes. We are also asking people to send in videos of them cheering.
On NHK Special “Takkyu ITO Mima – Yuzurenai Michi (Table Tennis- Mima Ito ‘No Compromise’)”, “Saikyo Nippon Badminton Mitchaku MOMOTA Kento・FUKU-HIRO Pair (Strongest Japan Badminton Team – Close Coverage of ‘Kento Momota and FukuHiro <Yuki Fukushima + Sayaka Hirota>’”, “Taiso Nippon Corona-ka no ‘Dai-Gyakuten’ e (Gymnastics Nippon-Towards a Stunning Comeback during the Pandemic)”
(Comments by KOIKE Hideo, Deputy Executive Director of Broadcasting)
I would like to introduce NHK Specials related to the Tokyo Olympics which will be broadcast in July. The Olympics were postponed for a year due to the spread of novel coronavirus infections. In the face of the disruption caused by this absolutely unprecedented situation, athletes quietly continued on with their training. NHK carried out extended reporting on athletes who are expected to win medals, and will present their daily battles and challenges over three programs. On July 17th, the program will be about table tennis player ITO Mima. When all international competitions were cancelled due to the pandemic, ITO lost her motivation for a time. And on top of this, knowing there was some public opposition to the holding of the Games, she repeatedly asked herself “what is it that I’m fighting for?” Based on in-depth reporting, the program will present how she has come to terms with her feelings and how she will face the challenge of the Chinese players who are her toughest opponents. On the following day on the 18th, the program will be about badminton, in which Japan is considered as the best in the world. It will report on MOMOTA Kento, currently ranked as the world’s number one in men’s singles, and the women’s doubles pair FUKUSHIMA Yuki and HIROTA Sayaka, who are known as “FUKU-HIRO”. The program will examine how each player has overcome the obstacles in front of them, how will they face the challenge of the Olympics, and their strategies for winning gold. On July 20th, the program will be about men’s artistic gymnastics and look at competitors including HASHIMOTO Daiki, who has improved greatly in the year since the Olympics were postponed. Using the latest in video technology the program will uncover the secrets of his physical abilities and cover behind-the-scenes stories of the representative selection process where young and experienced athletes compete fiercely as they aim for the best.
On Digital Services for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
(Comments by HIGUCHI Masayuki, Deputy Director of Headquarters for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics Games)
I will talk about the digital services for the Tokyo Olympics.
For the Games, the NHK Plus app and the “NHK Tokyo 2020 Olympic Site” will deliver services utilizing the advantages of digital media which allows access anytime, anywhere.
NHK Plus will simultaneously stream the live broadcasts of events from General TV and Educational TV, and will be accessible without registration. As with regular programing, the “time-shift playback” and “catch-up streaming” services will be available. There will also be special features for the duration of the Games, including an “Olympic/Paralympic Special Contents Menu” and a daily list of missed programs. On the “NHK Tokyo 2020 Olympic Site”, we will live stream approximately 3,000 hours of live footage including some that is not broadcast live on TV. There will also be highlight scenes from events and competitions that are still happening, quickly edited and delivered in “flash video reports”. We will also provide text content on how the athletes faced the various challenges of the Games being postponed and the pandemic. In addition, in order to deliver information such as event results and broadcast schedules in a simple conversation format, we will provide a Chatbot service using AI. This service is already available. We will be redesigning the “NHK Tokyo 2020 Olympic Site” in the middle of next month and providing comprehensive information about the Olympics.
On Universal Services for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
(Comments by HIGUCHI Masayuki)
NHK has provided universally accessible programs since Rio 2016, allowing people with or without disabilities, as well as viewers from children to seniors, to enjoy them together. And for the Tokyo Olympics too, this initiative has been further developed and “Minna de Highlight” will be broadcast on weekends. For people with visual impairments, we will include more details in narrations so that just by listening to the audio, people will be able to imagine a lot of what is happening. We will add sign language and subtitles so that they won’t miss any of the commentary. We will invite people with visual and/or hearing disabilities to the studio to create an atmosphere where a diverse range of people can enjoy our programs together.
We will also use new technologies to provide universal service on our digital services.
At the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, we will be providing live reports of the events in CG animated sign language. To do so, we will be using a new technology developed by NHK that automatically generates CG animated sign language from data. It coordinates movements of eyebrows and lips with hand movements, making the information even easier to understand. This service will be provided for one game per day in the basketball Olympic event. In addition, the “Robot Commentator” service, which was launched at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, will be expanded. This technology developed by NHK automatically creates subtitles and synthesized voice commentary from event data, and adds them to live streaming video. We plan to add this service to 10 events, including volleyball and table tennis. These two services will be provided not only for people with disabilities, but for anyone who wants to watch sports in an even more easy to understand way.
Given the situation with new coronavirus infections, there will be no public viewings organized for the Olympic or Paralympic Games. We are now looking into allowing the use of some of the public viewing venues by local governments as vaccination centers.
On the presenters and hosts for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics
(Comments by MASAGAKI Satoru)
I will announce the presenters for the Olympics and Paralympics. TOYOHARA Kenjiro and WAKUDA Mayuko will be the presenters for the opening ceremony on General TV and BS4K. And SANBE Koushi and KUWAKO Maho will be covering the closing ceremony. Meanwhile, SUGIURA Yuki and NAKANO Atsushi will present the Paralympics opening ceremony on General TV. For the Paralympics closing ceremony, which will bring the Tokyo Olympics to an end, ABE Wataru and WAKUDA Mayuko will be the presenters. These presenters will also be hosting live event coverage and the daily highlights during the Games.
Next, I would like to announce the people who, along with the presenters, will act as the faces of NHK’s coverage of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. AIBA Masaki and SAKURAI Sho of the pop group ARASHI have been appointed as “NHK’s Special Navigator of Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games”. During the Games, the two will be hosts for live event broadcasts in the studio and at other venues, using their experience in reporting and interacting with athletes to cover events and highlights of the Games, as well as presenting how the athletes continued to face the challenges of the pandemic. To represent the athletes, KITAJIMA Kosuke will be the “NHK’s Athlete Navigator of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games”. As an Olympian in four consecutive Games and the only Japanese swimmer to win gold medals in two events at two consecutive Games, KITAJIMA will review performances and highlight events from the perspective of an athlete, both at the studio and the venues.
On General TV’s program development broadcast schedule
(Comments by WAKAIZUMI Hisaaki, Deputy Executive Director of Broadcasting)
This year, we have set the primetime hours on General TV as a Program Development Zone for “Pursuing NHK’s new identity” and with the aim of creating the next generation of flagship programs we are broadcasting a variety of content. As we have done during this year’s spring holidays, eight programs covering a wide range of subjects will be broadcast from the end of June to July. “Asagaya Apartment”, a new style of diversity-themed program, will be broadcast on June 30th. “Loco Dake ga Shitteiru” is a program that will present the charms and richness of regional areas. It will be hosted by comedy double act SANDWICHMAN and produced by regional stations utilizing their networks. People who love their local area are known as “loco”, and the program will present topics that only locals know about. It will be broadcast on the evening of July 7th, the night of the Tanabata festival. The information program “21-Seiki no Fukuzatsu Shakai o Cho-teigi” will use drama and CG segments to explain social phenomena that people are interested in but find difficult to understand. The theme of this episode will be cryptocurrency, also known as virtual currency. It will thoroughly explain crypto-assets, which everyone is now interested in but are complex and difficult to fully understand. Other programs to be broadcast will include one that tries to solve difficult everyday problems through using knowledge from various academic fields, and a new documentary based on NHK’s rich video archives.