The centerpiece of the festivities was a parade featuring nearly all of Japan's podium finishers. Riding in open-air buses, they were cheered by huge crowds thronging the sidewalks and filling the streets of one of Tokyo's ritziest shopping areas, the Ginza district.
The crowd's most vocal recognition of the day was probably reserved for the women's soccer team, which earned the silver medal after a tough loss to the U.S.
Many have commented on the 38 medals won by Japan as boosting the morale of a nation worn down by decades of economic malaise, a seemingly dysfunctional central government, and still recovering from the triple disasters of March 11, 2011.
While this is undoubtedly true for a lot of ordinary Japanese, the parade on August 20 served a two-fold purpose. In addition to recognizing the Olympic team that competed in London, the day was also another opportunity for the Japanese Olympic Committee(JOC) to promote Tokyo's ongoing bid for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
The final decision will be made by the International Olympic Committee(IOC) next year. Tokyo is competing with two other cities, Madrid and Istanbul.
Tokyo's efforts to secure the 2020 Games are being led by JOC President Tsunekazu Takeda. He commented on Monday:
"Japan is an incredible sporting nation and holds its athletes, Olympians in particular, in very high esteem. The unprecedented performance in London makes us even more determined to deliver a dynamic celebration in the heart of the world's most forward-thinking city."
While many would debate the veracity of the claim of Tokyo as "the world's most forward-thinking city," Japan's capital city appears to be the front runner for the 2020 Games.
Tokyo will host the 2019 Rugby World Cup and a state-of-the-art, 80,000-seat stadium is already in the works. The new National Stadium would double as the Olympic Stadium eight years from now.
Tokyo also receives high marks for its efficient public transportation system.
The IOC has scheduled a vote for the host city of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games on September 7, 2013.
Related content: Tokyo Pushes Bid for 2020 Summer Olympic Games
Patrick Hattman covered the London Games for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He lived in Japan for more than a decade and continues to closely follow the country's best athletes and team sports.
- Sports & Recreation
- 2020 Summer Olympic Games