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Olympics: Traditional stage actor Nomura to oversee ceremonies for 2020 Games

This undated file photo shows kyogen Japanese traditional theater actor Nomura Mansai, center, creative director Hiroshi Sasaki, right, and filmmaker Takashi Yamazaki (copyright SHIROGUMI Inc.). (Kyodo)

FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Kyodo) -- The organizing committee of the 2020 Tokyo Games on Monday appointed Nomura Mansai, an actor of kyogen Japanese traditional theater, to oversee the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics.

Nomura, 52, one of Japan's leading traditional stage comedy and film actors, will head the production team for the ceremonies in the role of chief executive creative director.

"I'm very honored, and I also feel the weight on my shoulders. I will do my best to create ceremonies that are full of wit," he said in a statement released by the organizers.

Filmmaker Takashi Yamazaki, 54, best known for his film series "Always -- Sunset on Third Street," will take the lead in creating the format and stories for the Olympic ceremonies. The Paralympic ceremonies will be led by Hiroshi Sasaki, 63, who has worked in Japan's advertising industry.

Sasaki helped craft Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's role at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, in which the premier appeared dressed as iconic videogame character Mario.

The organizing committee of the 2020 Games rubber-stamped the decision at Monday's board meeting in Fukushima Prefecture. The organizers created an eight-member team last year to discuss the implementation of the ceremonies.

The opening and closing ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will each be presented in four parts, based on such themes as peace, coexistence, reconstruction and the future.

The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to be held between July 24 and Aug. 9, followed by the Paralympics from Aug. 25 to Sept. 6.

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