Asia News: Ryuichi Sakamoto Dies, Gay Games To Hong Kong, Sands China ‘Upgrades’ Partnership

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TAKE A BOW: Japanese musician and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto bows to the audience after performing during Opening Ceremony of the 23nd Busan International Film Festival on Oct. 4, 2018 in Busan, South Korea. The Oscar-winning composer died of cancer March 28. (Photo by Woohae Cho/Getty Images)


Ryuichi Sakamoto Dies At 71

The March 28 death of Ryuichi Sakamoto was reported by Japanese media the evening of April 2, almost a week after he died from cancer at the age of 71. As is often the case with celebrities in Japan, the death was not announced publicly until after the funeral so that family and close friends could mourn privately.

Sakamoto was first diagnosed with cancer some years ago. He was eventually cleared of the disease, but it returned in 2020.

Japanese media since April 2 have been filled with remembrances of Sakamoto, perhaps the most internationally significant Japanese musician of the past half-century, as well as a vital striver for environmental justice in Japan.

In addition to his groundbreaking work as a pioneer of electronic music with his group Yellow Magic Orchestra, Sakamoto composed dozens of themes for commercials and public events, did extensive work in film music, winning an Oscar for his score for “The Last Emperor,” and mentoring countless younger musicians in everything from pop to classical music.

His influence extends throughout Asia, especially to China and Korea, where he was once honored with the Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award by the Busan International Film Festival just for his soundtrack work.

Sakamoto’s YMO colleague, Yukihiro Takahashi, died of cancer in January. In tribute, Sakamoto posted a simple gray square on his Instagram account. On April 3, the sole surviving member of YMO, Haruomi Hosono, posted a simple gray square on his own Instagram account in tribute to Sakamoto.


Gay Games Come To Hong Kong

Gay Games 11 will take place in Hong Kong Nov. 2-11, after being postponed two years because of the COVID pandemic, according to a report in The Standard.

The Games organizers predict that the event will attract 7,000 athletes and 20,000 spectators. The Gay Games will also be held simultaneously in Guadalajara, Mexico, making it the first time the Games have taken place in both Asia and Latin America.

During the Games there will also be a Gala Concert series on Nov. 5, 7 and 9, featuring performers from Asia and Australia, as well as an LGBTQ+ art exhibition. The Games themselves will be comprised of 22 sporting events, including four that will be exclusive to Hong Kong: mahjong, cross-country running, dodgeball and dragon boat racing.

Alan Lang, co-chair of the Games, said during a press conference, “Currently, under 10 percent [of the quotas for events are filled], but some sports are filling up faster than others, especially individual sports like badminton, tennis and swimming.” Registration for the Games started last October.

To promote inclusion, the Games is offering 1,000 quotas for free to people under 25 years of age, and that includes residents of Hong Kong who are migrant workers, domestic helpers, and members of minorities.

A reporter asked if the organizers were worried about censorship, and another co-chair, Lisa Lam Man-wai, said the Games would emphasize “moving diversity to inclusion,” though Lam also reminded anyone who planned to attend that they should comply with local laws.

“Or course, with that, we promote inclusion and diversity, so we would like to provide a platform for everyone to express their identities,” Lam added.


Sands China To ‘Upgrade’ Partnership

Sands China Ltd., which operates three European-themed casino resorts in Macau, announced via a press release that it plans to “deepen its collaboration” with Star CM Holdings Ltd., which creates and operates variety shows in China, as a means of increasing its involvement in high-profile entertainment.

Sands China already features annual editions of the China Music Awards and the Sing! China Macao Concert but may also stage Star Street Dance Gala as early as this year.

According to GGR Asia, the casino operator wants to “upgrade” the “comprehensive strategic partnership” with CM Holdings that has existed since 2012. Since then, the two companies have collaborated on more than 20 projects.

This upgrade would translate as large-scale entertainment that would combine “live performances, plus television and online coverage.”

Some of the events being eyed include CM intellectual properties like “Guess the Singer,” “Guess the Dancer,” and “China’s Got Talent.”

The press release adds that “the two companies will elevate their long-term partnership to a new level with the objectives of creating more diverse tourism projects and supporting Macau in becoming a world center of tourism and leisure.”