In March 2020 the Tokyo Olympic games, like so many other events, were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Now a year later the games are set to take place. They’ll still be called Tokyo 2020 but are scheduled for July 23 – August 8, 2021. All of the iconic events, like gymnastics and swimming, are happening plus a few new events were added to the roster.
If you are curious about the plans for these games, when to watch the events and how they will proceed safely, keep reading. We’re discussing everything you need to know about one of the first major international events to take place since the start of the pandemic.
Brief History of the Olympics
The Olympic games we know today originated 2,800 years ago in Ancient Greece. Athletes competed every four years until the games ended in 393 AD. The first modern games were held in Athens in 1896. French educator Baron Pierre de Coubertin championed the effort to revitalize the games and he also designed the easily recognizable Olympic symbol. The five overlapping rings are said to represent the five “inhabited continents” which de Coubertin defined as Asia, Europe, Africa, the Americas and Oceania.
Tokyo 2020 is the second time Japan has hosted the summer games. The 1964 event also took place in Tokyo and this marked the first time the Olympics were held in Asia.
Tokyo 2020 Essentials
Athletes will compete in 339 events across the two weeks. While the opening ceremony is scheduled for Friday July 23, 2021, a few events will take place on July 21 and 22. The Paralympics are set for August 24 – September 5, 2021. You can find a complete schedule of events on the official Olympic Games website to help you plan when to watch your favorite sports.
Tokyo was well-positioned to host these games and only had to build 11 new stadiums. Many of the 43 stadiums that will be used this summer just needed to be renovated. Tokyo’s National Stadium was originally used for the 1964 games and was updated for this year’s event. The opening and closing ceremonies and track and field events will be held in this venue.
Some exciting new sports were added to the 2020 Tokyo games. For the first time, fans can watch athletes compete in surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing and karate events. Baseball and softball have also both returned after being removed from the 2012 games.
When you watch the games, take an extra moment to admire the medals. Leading up to the event, people across Japan were encouraged to donate small electronic devices, like phones to the Tokyo 2020 Medal Project. Metal from these devices was upcycled and used to create the iconic bronze, silver and gold medals that will be awarded to the top athletes.
Locals were also encouraged to help create the medal’s designs. After reviewing hundreds of entries, a design was selected that represented diversity, brilliance and “striving for victory on a daily basis.”
Changes and Challenges
Of course, moving ahead with the Tokyo 2020 games comes with plenty of challenges. No overseas spectators will be allowed to attend the games and Japanese nationals are still waiting to hear about capacity restrictions for local fans.
Participants must follow a set of guidelines to ensure everyone’s safety. Athletes and coaches will be given daily COVID-19 tests. Athletes can’t explore the rest of Japan and must stay in the Olympic Village during the games. Unlike in years past, competitors can’t stick around the Village after wrapping up their events. Instead of mingling with other international athletes, participants have 48 hours to leave after they finish competing.
After the Tokyo 2020, fans won’t have long to wait until the next Olympic games. The winter games are set for Beijing in 2022. The next set of summer games will take place in Paris in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028.
Japanese Phrases to Know
Unfortunately, international fans can’t attend the games in person this year. But don’t let that stop you from learning some key Japanese phrases related to the Olympics.
- Ganbatte! (Good luck!)
- Omedetou! (Congratulations!)
- Orinpikku wa saikou desu! (The Olympics are amazing!)
There are many exciting new events and old favorites to look forward to during the Tokyo 2020 games. While the event will look very different than in the past, this is a great chance to celebrate the world coming together safely.
To read other fascinating global stories, browse the ATLA Beyond Words blog.
Stephanie Brown is a New York City-based travel blogger and freelance content creator. You can find her at The Adventuring Millennial.