Child karate star Mahiro Takano and a man-made meteor shower are being touted as major draws for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Despite a bribery scandal revealed by media outlets on May 11, 2016, tainting Tokyo’s successful bid to host the summer Olympics, plans are going ahead around logistics and venues for the international sporting event.
Nine-year-old child prodigy Mahiro Takano, who enjoys an online following in the millions, is an official ambassador to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics/Paralympics. The third grader from rice-growing Niigata region in Japan has the same ambassadorial designation as world karate champion Usami Rika and sport-karate star Iwata Juri, making all three the official faces of karate, to perform a variety of public relations demonstrations during the Olympics. Mahiro, who shines as a key character in Sia’s latest music video “Alive,” was proclaimed ambassador along with Usami and Iwata at a press conference on February 1, 2015, in midtown Tokyo.
Meanwhile, according to Business Insider, the child prodigy and three-time Japan karate champion in her age group will likely share star-billing with a man-made meteor shower intended to dazzle Olympic goers. Japanese company ALE has designed a way to trigger an artificial meteor shower, and is bidding for an opening role at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Matching the stellar appeal of the child karate star, the man-made meteor shower will feature 500 to 1,000 “source particles” that will each serve as a mock meteor. A satellite launched into space will drop the particles from a certain height. Each particle, just a few millimeters across, will burn up through a process called plasma emission once they hit the atmosphere. The end result is a spectacular light show visible from a 100-kilometer radius to about 30 million people in the Tokyo area.
Depending on what material the particles are made of, they glow in different colors, aimed at eliciting child-like wonder from spectators. The pyrotechnic show is expected to be as spellbinding as a karate kata. More than a star show, this scientific display will demonstrate that old, broken satellites in space can be safely brought back and burned up in the atmosphere.
The cost of the man-made meteor shower is expected to exceed the fee of the child karate star. Each particle will cost about $8,100 apiece, pegging the total expenditure at between $4,050,000 and $8,100,000 for the production of enough particles.
But what has dampened the enthusiasm for a child karate star and a meteor shower show, is the specter of another Olympics scandal looming up. According to New York Times, the Japanese Olympic Committee is forming a commission to investigate allegations of corruption in the awarding of the 2020 Summer Games. Committee leader Tsunekazu Takeda told the Japanese Parliament on May 18 that the commission would include outside lawyers to “investigate the presence or absence of illegality” in payments made to Black Tidings, a Singapore outfit.
On May 12, France’s daily Le Monde quoted French financial prosecutors as saying that investigators are examining about $2 million in money transfers from a Japanese bank to Black Tidings, linked to a son of Lamine Diack, the former head of the International Association of Athletics Federations, which governs track and field events. This concern has cast a shadow on the fanfare for the Olympics showcasing a child karate star and a man-made meteor shower.
The transfers were apparently discovered after the French authorities began a criminal investigation last year of Lamine Diack on suspicion of having accepted more than $1 million in bribes to cover up positive drug tests. Diack was also a member of the International Olympic Committee until 2013, and his role in a new corruption scandal is static noise interfering with the pleasant media buzz around child karate star Mahiro and the meteor shower project.
According to BBC, both Lamine Diack and his son, Papa Massata Diack, are facing a corruption inquiry in France. The latest development involves money paid to a company based in Singapore and linked to Papa Massata Diack. The French National Financial Prosecution service was allegedly informed of two financial movements carried out in July and October 2013, just as Olympic organizers were regrouping for a fresh, clean start, aptly choosing a child karate star to lead the way.
Lamine Diack, 82, formerly a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), is banned from leaving France pending the investigations, while his son Papa Massata Diack is believed to be in Senegal. To counter the ill effects of the scandal, fans seem to be finding solace in the Olympic child ambassador, her karate star power serving as an antidote. A reprised YouTube video of Mahiro doing a kata has elicited over 5 million hits.
Child prodigy Mahiro also tries to keep Olympic enthusiasm from flagging by increasing awareness of karate as a sport. The action star is reportedly marshaling up public support to have karate recognized as an official sport at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics/Paralympics.
Regarding her stint with Australian pop diva Sia, the child karate star found making the music video fun, and would reportedly do it again, especially if Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift were to ask her.
[Photo by Eugene Hoshiko/AP Images]