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2020 Summer Olympics

Games of the XXXII Olympiad, scheduled to be held in Tokyo in 2021

Games of the XXXII Olympiad
Host cityTokyo, Japan
MottoUnited by Emotion[a]
Nations205 (+ EOR team)
Events339 in 33 sports (50 disciplines)
Opening23 July 2021
Closing8 August 2021
Opened by
Emperor Naruhito (expected)
StadiumOlympic Stadium

The 2020 Summer Olympics (Japanese: 2020年夏季オリンピック, Hepburn: Nisen Nijū-nen Kaki Orinpikku), officially the Games of the XXXII Olympiad (第三十二回オリンピック競技大会, Dai Sanjūni-kai Orinpikku Kyōgi Taikai) and branded as Tokyo 2020 (東京2020), is an international multi-sport event scheduled to be held from 23 July to 8 August 2021 in Tokyo, Japan, with some preliminary events beginning on 21 July.

Tokyo was selected as the host city during the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 7 September 2013.[2] Originally scheduled to take place from 24 July to 9 August 2020, the event was postponed in March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and will be held largely behind closed doors with no public spectators permitted under the state of emergency.[b] Despite being rescheduled for 2021, the event retains the Tokyo 2020 name for marketing and branding purposes.[3] This is the first time that the Olympic Games have been postponed and rescheduled, rather than cancelled.[4] The Summer Paralympics will be held between 24 August and 5 September 2021, 16 days after the completion of the Olympics.[5]

The 2020 Games will be the fourth Olympic Games to be held in Japan, following the Tokyo 1964 (Summer), Sapporo 1972 (Winter), and Nagano 1998 (Winter) games. Tokyo was to host the 1940 Summer Olympics but pulled out in 1938 due to war. Tokyo is the first city in Asia to hold the Summer Games twice. The 2020 Games will be the second of three consecutive Olympics to be held in East Asia, following the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea and preceding the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.

The 2020 Games will see the introduction of new competitions including 3x3 basketball and freestyle BMX, and the return of madison cycling, baseball and softball. Under new IOC policies, which allow the host organizing committee to add new sports to the Olympic program to augment the permanent core events, these Games will see karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding make their Olympic debuts.[6]

Bidding process

The three candidate cities were Tokyo, Istanbul, and Madrid. The applicant cities of Baku and Doha were not promoted to candidate status. A bid from Rome was withdrawn.

Host city selection

The IOC voted to select the host city of the 2020 Summer Olympics on 7 September 2013, at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, using an exhaustive ballot system. None of the candidate cities won more than 50% of the votes in the first round; Madrid and Istanbul were tied for second place, so a runoff vote was held to determine which of the two cities would be eliminated. The final vote was a head-to-head contest between Tokyo and Istanbul. Tokyo was selected by 60 votes to 36, gaining at least the 49 votes required for a majority.

2020 Summer Olympics host city election[7]
City NOC name Round 1 Runoff Round 2
Tokyo  Japan 42 60
Istanbul  Turkey 26 49 36
Madrid  Spain 26 45

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

In January 2020, concerns were raised about the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on athletes and visitors to the Olympic Games.[8] Tokyo organizers insisted they were monitoring the spread of the disease to minimize its effects on preparations for the Olympics.[9] The IOC stated that in 2020, their Japanese partners and the prime minister Abe Shinzo "made it very clear that Japan could not manage a postponement beyond next summer [2021] at the latest".[10] Unlike the case for Zika virus during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted directly between humans, posing tougher challenges for the organizers to counteract the infectious disease and host a safe and secure event.[8] Also unlike the case for H1N1 "swine flu" during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, COVID-19 has a higher fatality rate, and there was no effective vaccine until December 2020.[11] In a February 2020 interview, Conservative London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey argued that London would be able to host the Olympic Games at the former 2012 Olympic venues should the Games need to be moved because of the COVID-19 pandemic.[12] Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike criticized Bailey's comment as inappropriate.[13] In early 2021, officials in the U.S. state of Florida offered to host the delayed games in their state, while John Coates the vice president of the International Olympic Committee in charge of the Tokyo Olympics, said the Games would open even if the city and other parts of Japan were under a state of emergency because of COVID-19.[14][15]

Estimates by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Kyoto University predicted that states of emergency may be required during the Games.[16] The reports published at the Ministry of Health experts' panel also showed new patients increasing to 10,000 if the games were to allow spectators.[17]

Qualifying event cancellation and postponement

Concerns about the pandemic began to affect qualifying events in early 2020. Some that were due to take place in February were moved to alternative locations to address concerns about travelling to the affected areas, particularly China. For example, the women's basketball qualification was played in Belgrade, Serbia, instead of Foshan, China.[18] The boxing qualification tournament was originally planned to be held in Wuhan, China, the location of the original outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, from 3 to 14 February, but instead took place in Amman, Jordan, at the beginning of March.[19] The third round of the women's football qualification tournament was also affected, as the group matches formerly scheduled to be held in China were moved to Australia.[20] The European boxing qualification was held in London, United Kingdom, before it was suspended and resumed in June 2021 and has moved to Paris, France, affecting travel to the United Kingdom for its completion.[21][22] Remaining qualifying events that were due to take place in March to June 2020 began to be postponed until later in the year and middle of 2021 as part of a wider suspension of international sporting competitions in response to the pandemic. A multitude of Olympic sports were affected, including archery, baseball, cycling, handball, judo, rowing, sailing, volleyball, and water polo.

Effect on doping tests

Mandatory doping tests were being severely restricted by the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. European anti-doping organizations raised concerns that blood and urine tests could not be performed and that mobilizing the staff necessary to do so before the end of the pandemic would be a health risk. Despite the need for extensive testing to take place in advance of the Games, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) stated that public health and safety was their topmost priority.[23] The Chinese anti-doping agency temporarily ceased testing on 3 February 2020, with a planned resumption of phased testing towards the end of the month,[24] and the anti-doping organizations in the United States, France, Great Britain, and Germany had reduced their testing activities by the end of March.[23]

Postponement to 2021

The Tokyo Organizing Committee (TOCOG) released a statement on 2 March 2020, confirming that preparations for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics were "continuing as planned".[25] On 23 March, both Canada and Australia indicated that they would withdraw from the Games if they were not postponed by a year.[26] On the same day, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe stated he would support a proposed postponement, citing that ensuring athlete safety was "paramount," and veteran IOC member and former vice president Dick Pound said that he expected the Games to be postponed.[27][28]

The IOC and TOCOG released a joint statement on 24 March 2020, announcing that the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics would be rescheduled to a date "beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021". They stated that the Games could "stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times", and that the Olympic flame could become "the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present".[29] Prime Minister Abe stated that IOC president Thomas Bach responded "with 100% agreement" to his proposal to delay the Games. For continuity and marketing purposes, it was agreed that the Games would still be branded as Tokyo 2020 despite the change in scheduling.

On 30 March 2020, the IOC and TOCOG announced that they had reached an agreement on the new dates for the 2020 Summer Olympics, which would begin with the opening ceremony on 23 July 2021 and end with the closing ceremony on 8 August 2021.[30][31] The subsequent Winter Olympics in Beijing are scheduled to begin on 4 February 2022, less than six months later. Shortly before the postponement was confirmed, the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organizers formed a task force named "Here We Go" with the remit to address any issues arising from postponing the Games, such as sponsorship and accommodation. The organizers confirmed that all athletes who had already qualified for Tokyo 2020 would keep their qualification slots.[32]

Calls for cancellation

Health experts expressed concern in April 2020 that the Games might have to be cancelled if the pandemic should persist.[33] In an interview, former Organizing Committee president and Japanese prime minister Yoshirō Mori asserted that the Games would be "scrapped" if they could not go ahead in 2021.[34] On 29 April, Prime Minister Abe stated that the Games "must be held in a way that shows the world has won its battle against the coronavirus pandemic".[35] Thomas Bach acknowledged in an interview on 20 May 2020, that the job of reorganizing the Tokyo Games was "a mammoth task" and also admitted that the event would have to be cancelled altogether if it could not take place in the summer of 2021.[36] However, both Bach and Mori expressed optimism about the Games going ahead.

A member of the Japanese COVID-19 Advisory Committee on the basic action policy co-authored a British Medical Journal editorial, which stated, "holding Tokyo 2020 for domestic political and economic purposes— ignoring scientific and moral imperatives—is contradictory to Japan’s commitment to global health and human security."[37]

On 21 January 2021, multiple sources reported that the Japanese government had "privately concluded" that the Games would have to be cancelled.[38] The government dismissed the claims, stating that the reports were "categorically untrue".[39] The new Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga confirmed on 19 February that the G7 had given unanimous support for the postponed Games to go ahead as scheduled.[40] "President Biden supports Prime Minister Suga's efforts," the White House stated.[41] It was reported in April 2021, just three months before the start of the Games, that there was still the option to cancel the Tokyo Olympics with the country having vaccinated less than 1% of its population, with tens of thousands of volunteers expected to take part and athletes not being required to quarantine after arriving in Japan.[42][43] Prime Minister Suga dismissed these reports in an April 2021 press conference with President Biden, who continues to support Suga's determination to hold the Games.[44] "We respected the decision to delay the games last summer" and "the President proudly supports U.S. athletes," the White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.[45]

Public support for the Games in Japan has decreased significantly amid a 2021 surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.[46] Multiple organisations of medical professionals have voiced oppositions to the Games,[47][48][49] while an opinion poll in April 2021 saw 40% of participants support the cancellation of the Games, and 33% support a second postponement.[50] In May 2021, 83% of those polled supported the cancellation or postponement of the Games.[51] The Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association is calling for the cancellation, stating that hospitals in Tokyo "have their hands full and have almost no spare capacity" in an open letter to the prime minister.[52] At least nine out of 47 elected governors supported the cancellation of the Games.[53] Nearly 37% of Japanese companies surveyed supported the cancellation of the Games, and 32% supported postponement.[54]

Kenji Utsunomiya, who had previously run for Governor of Tokyo, collected more than 351,000 signatures on a petition calling for the organisers to "prioritise life" over the Olympics.[55] Japanese writers Jiro Akagawa[56][57] and Fuminori Nakamura also called for the Games to be postponed or cancelled.[58]

On 26 May, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, which is a local sponsor of the Games, published an editorial calling for Prime Minister Suga to "calmly and objectively assess the situation and decide on the cancellation of the event this summer."[59] On 4 June it was reported that Japanese sponsors have proposed to the organisers for "the Games to be postponed for several months," citing a comment by a corporate sponsor senior executive: "It just makes much, much more sense from our perspective to hold the Games when there are more vaccinated people, the weather is cooler and maybe public opposition is lower."[60]

In July, it was announced that all events in Tokyo are to be held behind closed doors with no spectators due to a new state of emergency. A poll by the Asahi Shimbun found that 55% of those surveyed supported the cancellation of the Olympics, and 68% felt that organisers would not be able to suitably control COVID-19 at the Games.[61] The decision was also detrimental to local sponsors, which had planned in-person presences to promote their products during the Games; an executive of official sponsor Toyota stated that the company had pulled a television advertising campaign it had planned for the Games in Japan, citing that the Olympics were "becoming an event that has not gained the public’s understanding."[61][62]

Costs and insurance

According to an estimate conducted by professor emeritus Katsuhiro Miyamoto of Kansai University and reported by the NHK, the cost of delaying the 2020 Olympics by one year will be 640.8 billion yen (US$5.8 billion), taking maintenance expenditures for the unused facilities into account.[63] A complete cancellation would cost Japan ¥4.52 trillion (US$41.5 billion), based on operating expenses and loss of tourism activity.[63]

The Tokyo Games are protected through the commercial insurance marketplace Lloyd's of London, by global reinsurers Munich Re and Swiss Re. The IOC takes out around $800 million of insurance for each Summer Olympics, with the total amount of loss insured for the 2020 Games likely to be more than $2 billion. The disruption caused by postponing the Games is covered by the insurance policy; those likely to make claims for their financial losses include local organizers, sponsors, hospitality firms, and travel providers. The total loss amount will not become clear until the Games have actually taken place.[64][65]

Holders of tickets purchased from overseas prior to postponement will be entitled to refunds for both Olympic and Paralympic ticket purchases except for costs for cancelled hotel bookings. Although about 600,000 Olympic tickets and 300,000 Paralympic tickets will need to be refunded, organisers said that they would not release the costs for refunds.[66]

Development and preparation

The Tokyo Organizing Committee was originally headed by former Japanese prime minister Yoshirō Mori,[67] but he resigned in February 2021 due to backlash from sexist comments about women in meetings.[68][69][70] Seiko Hashimoto was chosen to succeed him. Tamayo Marukawa, Minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, oversees the preparations on behalf of the Japanese government.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has set aside a fund of ¥400 billion (more than US$3.67 billion) to cover the cost of hosting the Games. The Japanese government is considering easing airspace restrictions to allow an increased slot capacity at both Haneda and Narita airports. A new railway line is planned to link both airports through an expansion of Tokyo Station, cutting travel time from Tokyo Station to Haneda from 30 minutes to 18 minutes, and from Tokyo Station to Narita from 55 minutes to 36 minutes; funded primarily by private investors, the line would cost ¥400 billion. The East Japan Railway Company (JR East) is also planning a new route near Tamachi to Haneda Airport.[71]

There are plans to fund the accelerated completion of the Central Circular Route, Tokyo Gaikan Expressway, and Ken-Ō Expressway, and the refurbishment of other major expressways in the area.[72] The Yurikamome automated transit line is also to be extended from its existing terminal at Toyosu Station to a new terminal at Kachidoki Station, passing the site of the Olympic Village, although the line is not expected to have adequate capacity to serve major events in the Odaiba area on its own.[73]

In June 2020, TOCOG CEO Toshirō Mutō stated that the committee was exploring options for streamlining the Games to achieve cost savings.[74] On 25 September, the IOC and Tokyo Organizing Committee agreed to a suite of measures to simplify the Games' logistics, including a cut to non-athlete staff, use of online meetings, and streamlined transport, among others. The committee also outlined areas it would be exploring in order to maintain the health and safety of all participants.[75]

Venues and infrastructure

The newly built Japan National Stadium in Tokyo, will host the Ceremonies and Athletics.

In February 2012, it was announced that former Tokyo's National Stadium, the central venue for the 1964 Summer Olympics, would undergo a ¥100 billion renovation for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Summer Olympics.[76] In November 2012, the Japan Sport Council announced it was taking bids for proposed stadium designs. Of the 46 finalists, Zaha Hadid Architects was awarded the project, which would replace the old stadium with a new 80,000-seat stadium. There was criticism of the Zaha Hadid design—which was compared to a bicycle helmet and regarded as clashing with the surrounding Meiji Shrine—and widespread disapproval of the costs, even with attempts to revise and "optimize" the design.[77]

In June 2015, the government announced it was planning to reduce the new stadium's permanent capacity to 65,000 in its athletics configuration (although with the option to add up to 15,000 temporary seats for football) as a further cost-saving measure.[78][79] The original plans to build a retractable roof were also scrapped.[80] As a result of public opposition to the increasing costs of the stadium, which reached ¥252 billion, the government ultimately chose to reject Zaha Hadid's design entirely and selected a new design by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. Inspired by traditional temples and with a lower profile, Kuma's design has a budget of ¥149 billion. Changes in plans prevented the new stadium from being completed in time for the 2019 Rugby World Cup as originally intended.[81] National Stadium was inaugurated on 21 December 2019 and will be named Olympic Stadium during 2020 Olympic Games.[82]

In October 2018, the Board of Audit issued a report stating that the total cost of the venues could exceed US$25 billion.[83]

Of the 33 competition venues in Tokyo, 28 are within 8 kilometers (5 miles) of the Olympic Village, with eleven new venues to be constructed.[84] On 16 October 2019, the IOC announced that there were plans to re-locate the marathon and racewalking events to Sapporo for heat concerns.[85] The plans were made official on 1 November 2019 after Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike accepted the IOC's decision, despite her belief that the events should have remained in Tokyo.[86]


Police patrolling and watching from a rooftop near the tennis venue

In December 2018, the Japanese government chose to ban drones from flying over venues being used for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. A similar ban was also imposed for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which Japan also hosted.[87]


Applications for volunteering at the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games were accepted beginning on 26 September 2018. By 18 January 2019, a total of 204,680 applications had been received by the Tokyo Organizing Committee.[88] Interviews to select the requisite number of volunteers began in February 2019, with training scheduled to take place in October 2019.[89] The volunteers at the venues are to be known as "Field Cast", and the volunteers in the city are to be known as "City Cast". These names were chosen from a shortlist of four from an original 150 pairs of names; the other three shortlisted names were "Shining Blue" and "Shining Blue Tokyo", "Games Anchor" and "City Anchor", and "Games Force" and "City Force". The names were chosen by the people who had applied to be volunteers at the Games.[90]

As of early June 2021, approximately 10,000 out of the 80,000 registered volunteers resigned from the Games. Media attributed the rise in pandemic cases as the reason for massive quitting.[91] More volunteer assignments are expected to be cancelled due to the spectator ban.[92]


In February 2017, the Tokyo Organizing Committee announced an electronics recycling program in partnership with Japan Environmental Sanitation Center and NTT Docomo, soliciting donations of electronics such as mobile phones to be reclaimed as materials for the medals. Aiming to collect eight tonnes of metals to produce the medals for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, collection boxes were deployed at public locations and NTT Docomo retail shops in April 2017.[93][94] A design competition for the medals was launched in December of that year.[95]

In May 2018, the organizing committee reported that they had obtained half the required 2,700 kilograms of bronze but were struggling to obtain the required amount of silver; although bronze and silver medals purely utilize their respective materials, IOC requirements mandate that gold medals utilize silver as a base.[96] The collection of bronze was completed in November 2018, with the remainder estimated to have been completed by March 2019.[97]

On 24 July 2019 (one year ahead of the originally scheduled opening ceremony), the designs of the medals were unveiled.[98][99] The medals for the Olympic and Paralympic Games were designed by Junichi Kawanishi following a nationwide competition.[100] A new feature shared with the Paralympic medals is that the ribbons contain one, two, or three silicone convex lines to distinguish gold, silver, and bronze medals, respectively.[99]

Due to COVID-19 protocols, athletes will be presented with their medals on trays and asked to put them on themselves, rather than have them placed around their necks by a dignitary.[101]

Torch relay

The slogan of the 2020 Summer Olympics torch relay is "Hope Lights Our Way".[102][103]

As determined by a 2009 IOC ruling that banned international torch relays for any future Olympic Games,[104] the 2020 Summer Olympics torch is scheduled to only visit the two countries of Greece and the host nation Japan. The first phase of the relay began on 12 March 2020, with the traditional flame lighting ceremony at the Temple of Hera in Olympia, Greece. The torch then travelled to Athens, where the Greek leg of the relay culminated in a handover ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium on 19 March, during which the torch was transferred to the Japanese contingent.[102] The flame was placed inside a special lantern and transported from Athens International Airport on a chartered flight to Higashimatsushima in Japan. The torch was then expected to begin the second phase of its journey on 20 March, as it traveled for one week around the three most affected areas of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunamiMiyagi, Iwate and Fukushima—where it would go on display under the heading "Flame of Recovery". After leaving Naraha on 26 March, the torch would commence its main relay around Japan, incorporating all 47 prefectural capitals.[103] The relay is scheduled to end at Tokyo's new National Stadium, where the torch is to be used to light the Olympic cauldron at the finale of the 2020 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.[105]

After the decision to postpone the Games was made, the torch was placed again in a special lantern on display in the city of Fukushima for a month. After that, the lantern was transferred to the Tokyo prefecture, where it was kept safe until the restart of the relay in 2021.[106] On 23 July 2020 (one year ahead of the rescheduled opening ceremony), a promotional video was released featuring Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee carrying the lantern inside Japan National Stadium, drawing comparisons between emergence from the pandemic and her own return to sport after being diagnosed with leukemia.[107]

On 20 August 2020, it was announced that the torch relay would begin again in Naraha, Fukushima on 25 March 2021, nearly a year later than originally planned.[106][108]

Biosecurity protocols

Temperature check and COVID-19 countermeasures at the tennis venue

In February 2021, the IOC began releasing "playbooks" containing details on planned COVID-19 biosecurity protocols for athletes, officials, the press, and other staff, including standard protocols such as practicing social distancing, hygiene, the wearing of face masks (outside of training and competition for athletes), and being restricted from visiting bars, restaurants, shops, and other tourist areas, or using public transport unless otherwise permitted. Participants will be asked to use Japan's COCOA Exposure Notification app and will be tested at least every four days. Athletes who test positive will be unable to compete and may be quarantined at a government facility (although leeway will be given in the event of false positives). Close contacts must also test negative in order to be cleared for competition. As the actions could spread infected droplets, athletes will be discouraged from "excessive" celebrations.[109][110][111] The playbooks were criticised in a paper published by The New England Journal of Medicine in May 2021, for lacking "scientifically rigorous risk assessment" and failing to "distinguish the various levels of risk faced by athletes".[112]

The IOC is recommending the vaccination of athletes if they are available, but vaccines will not be required, and the IOC is recommending against athletes "jumping the queue" in order to obtain priority over essential populations.[113] On 12 March 2021, Thomas Bach announced that in nations where they are approved for use, the Chinese Olympic Committee had offered to cover the costs of the Chinese CoronaVac and Sinopharm vaccines for athletes competing in the 2020 Summer Olympics and 2022 Winter Olympics, and purchase two doses for their nation's general public for each vaccinated athlete.[114] On 6 May 2021, Pfizer announced that it would donate doses of its vaccine to NOCs competing in Tokyo.[115]

Approximately 93,000 athletes and officials are exempt from the quarantine rules upon arriving to Japan, provided that they remain in areas separated from the local population. With around 300,000 local staff and volunteers entering and exiting these bubbles, and 20,000 vaccines doses allocated for this group, it has led to concerns of COVID-19 spreading both during the games and when teams return to their countries.[116][117]

Due to international travel restrictions, the organising committee announced that no international guests (including spectators) would be allowed to attend the Games. As per existing guidance for spectator sports in Japan, spectators would be asked to refrain from cheering or shouting.[111] On 19 June 2021, Governor of Tokyo Yuriko Koike announced that plans for public viewing events for the Games had been scrapped, in order to use the planned venues (such as Yoyogi Park) as mass vaccination sites instead.[118] On 21 June, it was announced that all venues would be capped at a maximum of 10,000 ticketed spectators or 50% capacity, whichever is lower.[119]

On 2 July 2021, President of the Tokyo Organising Committee Seiko Hashimoto warned that there was still a possibility that the Games could be held behind closed doors due to rising cases in the country.[120][121] Of particular concern has been Japan's slow vaccination rate.[122][123] A University of Toktyo simulation projected that a new wave of infections could peak in mid-October if the Games went on after the existing state of emergency in Tokyo expired.[124][125]

On 8 July 2021, after Tokyo recorded 920 new COVID-19 cases (its highest increase since May), Prime Minister Suga declared a new state of emergency in the Tokyo area from 12 July through 22 August (ending only two days before the Paralympics' opening ceremony), and announced that all events at venues in the area will therefore be held behind closed doors with no spectators permitted. Hashimoto stated that "it is extremely regrettable that the Games will be staged in a very limited manner in the face of the spread of novel coronavirus infections." President of the IOC Thomas Bach stated that "we will support any measure which is necessary to have a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games for the Japanese people and all the participants."[122][123][126]

The announcement stated that spectators will still be allowed at events being held outside of Tokyo, subject to the approval by local health authorities and the aforementioned 30%/10,000-spectator limit. The prefectures of Fukushima and Hokkaido stated that they will prohibit spectators at events held in the areas.[127] The opening ceremony is expected to be limited to fewer than 1,000 VIP guests, including IOC representatives and dignitaries.[128] On 16 July, it was reported that Bach had asked Prime Minister Suga about the possibility that restrictions on spectators could be eased later on if COVID-19 conditions improve in Tokyo.[128]


The opening ceremony tickets were expected to range from ¥12,000 to ¥300,000, with a maximum price of ¥130,000 for the finals of the athletics track and field events.[129] The average ticket price is ¥7,700, with half the tickets being sold for up to ¥8,000. A symbolic ticket price of ¥2,020 is expected for families, groups resident in Japan, and in conjunction with a school program.[129] Tickets will be sold through 40,000 shops in Japan and by mail order to Japanese addresses through the Internet.[130] International guests, had they been allowed, would have needed to visit Japan during the sales period, or arrange to buy tickets through a third party such as a travel agent.[131]

Tickets went on general sale in Japan in the autumn of 2019 and were expected to be sold globally from June 2020; however, this plan was suspended when the Games were postponed on 24 March 2020. The Tokyo Organizing Committee confirmed that tickets already purchased would remain valid for the same sessions according to the new schedule and that refunds were also being offered.[132]

On 20 March 2021, it was announced that due to COVID-19-related concerns, no international guests would be allowed to attend the 2020 Olympics or Paralympics. This includes both spectators, as well as the friends and family of athletes. All overseas ticketholders will be refunded.[111] Hashimoto cited uncertainties surrounding international travel restrictions, and goals to preserve the safety of all participants and spectators, and not place a burden on the health care system.[111] It was ultimately announced in July that no spectators will be allowed at any events held in Tokyo, Fukushima and Hokkaido.[122][123][126]

Cultural festival

A cultural programme known as Nippon Festival was scheduled to coincide with the Olympics and Paralympics, running from April to September 2021 as a series of streaming events held by the Tokyo Organizing Committee and other partners. The events are reflecting the themes of "Participation and Interaction", "Towards the Realisation of an Inclusive Society" and "Reconstruction of the Tohoku Region". The programme was downsized and reformatted due to COVID-19 and the postponement of the Games.[133] One of these events was a concert held on 18 July, which featured J-rock band Wanima, choreography by dancers Aio Yamada and Tuki Takamura, and the presentation of animated "creatures" based on illustrations "embodying the thoughts and emotions of people from across the world".[134]

The original plans for Nippon Festival included events such as Kabuki x Opera—a concert that would have featured stage actor Ichikawa Ebizō XI, opera singers Anna Pirozzi, Erwin Schrott and the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, an arts and culture festival focusing on disabilities,[135][136][137][138] and a special two-day exhibition sumo tournament at the Ryōgoku Kokugikan shortly after the Olympics—which would have differed significantly from the traditional bi-monthly Honbasho tournaments, and featured special commentary in English and Japanese to help explain to spectators the customs and traditions of professional sumo, which are deeply rooted in the Shinto religion.[139][140]

The Games


The official program for the 2020 Summer Olympics was approved by the IOC executive board on 9 June 2017. IOC president Thomas Bach stated that the goal for the Tokyo Summer Olympics was to give them a more "youthful" and "urban" appeal, and to increase the number of female participants.[141][142]

The Games will feature 339 events in 33 different sports, encompassing a total of 50 disciplines. Alongside the five new sports that are expected to be introduced in Tokyo, fifteen new events within existing sports are also planned, including 3x3 basketball, freestyle BMX, and the return of madison cycling, as well as new mixed events in several sports.

In the list below, the number of events in each discipline is noted in parentheses.

2020 Summer Olympic Sports Programme
New sports

On 12 February 2013, with a remit to control the cost of the Games and ensure they are "relevant to sports fans of all generations", the IOC Executive Board recommended the removal of one of the 26 sports contested at the 2012 Summer Olympics, leaving a vacancy which the IOC would seek to fill at the 125th IOC Session. Five sports were shortlisted for removal, including canoe, field hockey, modern pentathlon, taekwondo, and wrestling. In the final round of voting by the Executive Board, eight members voted to remove wrestling from the Olympic programme. Hockey and taekwondo were both tied in second with three votes each.[143][144][145]

The decision to drop wrestling surprised many media outlets, given that the sport's role in the Olympics dates back to the ancient Olympic Games, and was included in the original programme for the modern Games. The New York Times felt that the decision was based on the shortage of well-known talent and the absence of women's events in the sport.[146][147][148] Out of the shortlist from the IOC vote, Wrestling was duly added to the shortlist of applicants for inclusion in the 2020 Games, alongside the seven new sports that were put forward for consideration.[146]

On 29 May 2013, it was announced that three of the eight sports under consideration had made the final shortlist: baseball/softball, squash and wrestling.[149] The other five sports were rejected at this point: karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding, and wushu.[150] At the 125th IOC Session on 8 September 2013, wrestling was chosen to be included in the Olympic programme for 2020 and 2024. Wrestling secured 49 votes, while baseball/softball and squash received 24 votes and 22 votes respectively.[151]

With the adoption of the Olympic Agenda 2020 in December 2014, the IOC shifted from a "sport-based" approach to the Olympic programme to an "event-based" programme—providing additional flexibility for the host organising committee to propose the addition of sports to the programme to improve local interest.[152][153] As a result of these changes, a shortlist of eight new proposed sports was unveiled on 22 June 2015, consisting of baseball/softball, bowling, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, surfing, and wushu.[154] On 28 September 2015, the Tokyo Organising Committee submitted their shortlist of five proposed sports to the IOC: baseball/softball, karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding.[155] These five new sports were approved on 3 August 2016 by the IOC during the 129th IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and are to be included in the sports program for 2020 only, bringing the total number of sports at the 2020 Olympics to 33.[156][157]

Test events

A total of 56 test events are scheduled to take place in the run-up to the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. Two of the events were held in late 2018, but the main test event schedule commenced in June 2019 and was originally due to be completed in May 2020 prior to the start of the Olympics. Several of the events were incorporated into pre-existing championships, but some have been newly created specifically to serve as Olympic test events for the 2020 Summer Games.[158][159]

In February 2019, it was announced that the test events would be branded under the banner "Ready, Steady, Tokyo". The Tokyo Organizing Committee is responsible for 22 of the test events, with the remaining events being arranged by national and international sports federations. The first test event was World Sailing's World Cup Series, held at Enoshima in September 2018. The last scheduled event is the Tokyo Challenge Track Meet, which was originally due to take place at the Olympic Stadium on 6 May 2020.[160]

All test events originally scheduled to take place from 12 March 2020 onwards were postponed due to COVID-19, with the test event calendar to be reviewed during the preparations for the rescheduled Games.[c][161]

Participating national Olympic committee teams

The Republic of Macedonia has competed under the provisional name "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" in every Summer and Winter Games since its debut in 1996 because of the disputed status of its official name. The naming disputes with Greece ended in 2018 with the signing of the Prespa agreement, and the country was officially renamed North Macedonia in February 2019. The new name was immediately recognized by the IOC, although the Olympic Committee of North Macedonia (NMOC) was not officially adopted until February 2020. The NMOC sent a delegation to the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics in January 2020, but the Tokyo Games will be North Macedonia's first appearance at the Summer Olympics under its new name.[162]

On 9 December 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned Russia from all international sport for a period of four years, after the Russian government was found to have tampered with lab data that it provided to WADA in January 2019 as a condition of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency being reinstated. As a result of the ban, WADA plans to allow individually cleared Russian athletes to take part in the 2020 Summer Olympics under a neutral banner, as instigated at the 2018 Winter Olympics, but they will not be permitted to compete in team sports. The title of the neutral banner has yet to be determined; WADA Compliance Review Committee head Jonathan Taylor stated that the IOC would not be able to use "Olympic Athletes from Russia" (OAR) as it did in 2018, emphasizing that neutral athletes cannot be portrayed as representing a specific country.[163][164][165] Russia later filed an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the WADA decision.[166] After reviewing the case on appeal, CAS ruled on 17 December 2020 to reduce the penalty that WADA had placed on Russia. Instead of banning Russia from sporting events, the ruling allowed Russia to participate at the Olympics and other international events, but for a period of two years, the team cannot use the Russian name, flag, or anthem and must present themselves as "Neutral Athlete" or "Neutral Team". The ruling does allow for team uniforms to display "Russia" on the uniform as well as the use of the Russian flag colors within the uniform's design, although the name should be up to equal predominance as the "Neutral Athlete/Team" designation.[167]

On 19 February 2021, it was announced that Russia would compete under the acronym "ROC" after the name of the Russian Olympic Committee although the name of the committee itself in full could not be used to refer to the delegation. ROC team would be represented by the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee.[168]

On 6 April 2021, North Korea announced it would not participate in the 2020 Summer Olympics due to COVID-19 concerns.[169] This will mark North Korea's first absence in the Summer Olympics since 1988.[170] On 21 July 2021, Guinea announced it would not participate in the 2020 Summer Olympics due, "officially" to COVID-19 concerns.[171] But Guinea changed its position and should finally participate.[172]

Country by team size

The following 205 national Olympic committee teams and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team have qualified (including the 104 universality places guaranted in athletics,[173] under which all 206 NOCs may send competitors regardless of qualification).

Participating national Olympic committee teams

Number of athletes by National Olympic Committee

11,324 Athletes in 206 NOC: