Blue Impulse told to “be ready” to participate in Olympic Games

MATSUSHIMA | The aerobatic team of the Japanese Air Self-Defence Force have been told to “be ready” to participate in this year’s Olympic Games, which are to be held in Tokyo.

On Friday 17th January, jets of the Blue Impulse began practicing drawing large rings in the sky over Higashi-Matsushima City, where the Olympic Torch is due to touch down on the 20th March.

The Air Self-Defence Force said it has not been decided whether Blue Impulse will participate in this year’s Games, but the team began practicing on Friday after the Olympic Organising Committee told them to prepare to participate in the torch arrival ceremony and other events.

Blue Impulse famously drew the Olympic rings during the opening ceremony of the 1964 Tokyo summer Games, with five F-86 Sabres drawing the interlocking rings with white smoke at a height of around 10,000 feet. They also performed a short demonstration with coloured smoke, matching the colours of the Olympic rings, at the opening ceremony of the 1998 winter Games in Nagano.

The team have generally refrained from using coloured smoke in recent years amid concerns that chemicals could stain the ground. However, the Japan Times reported last month that the Air Self-Defence Force has improved its smoke and that the team are expected to draw the Olympic rings in full colour at March’s arrival ceremony.

The Blue Angels are no stranger to major international sporting fixtures. In 2002, the team performed a display over the first match of the FIFA World Cup. In September 2019, the team drew a cherry blossom with white smoke to mark the start of the Rugby World Cup. Blue Impulse are also well-known for drawing patterns in the sky during their display, including a five-pointed star.

Based at Matsushima, Blue Impulse currently fly six Kawasaki T-4 intermediate jet trainers in a white and blue paint scheme.