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The new commissions were installed in Nihonbashi as part of the first ever Olympic Agora cultural programme.

Makoto Tojiki, Solidarity + Collaboration (2021). Courtesy the artist and the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage.

Tokyo's Olympic Agora opened on 1 July, three weeks ahead of the games' opening ceremony. The cultural hub features works by artists from Japan and around the world.

Among the highlights are a light sculpture called Solidarity + Collaboration (2021) by Japanese artist Makoto Tojiki and an installation by French artist Xavier Veilhan called The Audience (2020), which consists of five life-size spectators of different ages, genders and ethnicities—one in each of the Olympic colours.

'The sculpture is intentionally a tribute to the audience of the Olympic Games, going beyond the sporting feats that are usually celebrated and bringing the focus to non-heroic figures, to highlight the importance of the public,' Veilhan explained.

Xavier Veilhan, The Audience (2020). Courtesy the artist and the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage.

Foreign visitors are not permitted to attend the Games of the XXXII Olympiad, and even the ability of locals to watch events is now in doubt following a surge in Covid-19 cases in Japan.

Veilhan said he hoped to 'give existence to this international public, who may be absent physically but all the more watching throughout the world.'

The Audience is part of a series called 'Olympic Art Visions' commissioned by the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage (OFCH) – the arts, culture and heritage wing of the International Olympic Committee.

Other works in the Agora include an interactive multimedia installation called Podium Memories by Canadian studio Moment Factory, photographs by Rinko Kawauchi documenting Olympic outreach to communities affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and artworks made by former Olympians and one Paralympian.

Jason Bruges Studio, The Constant Gardeners (test build), 2021. Courtesy Jason Bruges Studio. Photo by James Medcraft.

Accounting for the limited numbers able to visit the Agora in person, organisers promised a 'robust digital programme' accessible for free on the Olympic Agora website. On view from 1 July to 15 August, the programme will run online and on-site throughout the Games but will close before the opening of the Paralympics on August 24.

Among the other artworks that will be on display around Tokyo during the games is The Constant Gardeners (2021), a robot-groomed zen garden by Jason Bruges Studio. It will be unveiled in Tokyo's Ueno Park on 28 July as part of the Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13. —[O]

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