Above: Zaha Hadid’s manta-like design for Tokyo’s Olympic stadium.
The 1964 Olympic Games were a double honor for Japan. With Tokyo crowned as the first Asian city to host the Games, the country proved in unambiguous fashion that it had the chops to host the Greatest Show on Earth—transforming itself from foe to friend in two short decades. Japan also established itself as the world leader in technology by ushering in several new breakthroughs: from the fastest train in the world (the Tokyo Shinkansen) to the first satellite broadcasts of Olympic events. Fast forward half a century and the country is hoping for the opportunity to again showcase its reputation for cutting-edge design, unveiling its 11-strong shortlist for the remodeling of the 1964 Tokyo Kasumigaoka National Stadium as part of its bid against Istanbul and Madrid to host the 2020 Games.