The capital of Japan, Tokyo, is all set and ready to welcome thousands of athletes for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, after a year of delay.
The whole sports world and fans are anxiously looking forward to the world’s most prestigious sports event, the Olympic Games, which is scheduled to kick off in Tokyo from 23 July to 8 August 2021.
Altogether, 11,000 athletes from 206 countries are set to battle it out for gold, silver, and bronze medals.
The hosts have produced 5,000 Olympic medals from 78,985 tons of recycled electronic devices, which included digital cameras, laptops, handheld games, and a whopping 6.21 million mobile phones.
Under their official motto “United by Emotion,” echoing a universal call for diversity and inclusion, the Japanese who are hosting the Olympics for the second time, are determined to stage safe and secure Olympic Games for all participants despite the huge challenges. They have organized their first Games in 1964, becoming the first Asian country to host the Olympics. The 1964 successful Games of 1964 had also left a great legacy to the nation.
Two weeks after the Olympic Games, Tokyo will also host the Paralympic Games, becoming the first city to host the Paralympics for the second time, where they will also launch the first-ever Paralympic Museum at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
The Games was scheduled to be held in Tokyo in 2020, but it was postponed because of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Both the International Olympic Committee IOC and the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of Tokyo Games have agreed to the postponement of the Games to be held the following year, 2021, though it would retain its identity as ‘Tokyo 2020’.
And just as the Tokyo Games got closer and closer to its launch, the virus continued escalating with new variants emerging causing more cases and deaths, raising more concerns about the safety of the athletes and visitors.
Accordingly, it was decided that the Games will be held under strict precautionary measures as applying ‘The Bubble Concept’. No foreign fans are allowed to attend the Games, just only local fans and residents.
Though the Opening Ceremony is due to take place on 23 July, a few events are kicking off a few days before the official opening, like baseball, softball, and football. All three sports to kick off on 21 July.
The Games will witness a huge episode of 339 events across 33 sports. Despite Tokyo being the main host of the Olympic Games, yet several sports and events are set to be held at venues outside the capital. The Games will also witness the introduction of five new sports at the Tokyo 2020 Games. Baseball-softball is among the 'new' sports this summer, but the two disciplines were previously separate sports competed at the Olympic Games up until the Beijing Games in 2008.
For four of the newbies, however, this will be their Olympic debut according to the IOC, this includes Karate, surfing, sport climbing and skateboarding, who have all been selected to showcase their sport at Tokyo 2020 for the first time in Games history.
Sports fans all over the world should expect to see new disciplines in existing sports, including BMX basketball, BMX freestyle, in addition to mixed-gender events in various sports such as archery, judo, triathlon, swimming and athletics; which means 15 new gold medals to be awarded at the upcoming Olympics, boosting equality.
Competition is due to take place across 41 different venues, including the Japan National Stadium, Tokyo Stadium, and the Yokohama Stadium.
As scheduled, softball and football will kick off on 21 and 22 July. Archery begins on the morning of 23 July, before the opening ceremony that takes place later that evening with the ranking rounds. The rest of the actions across all sports will unfold after the ceremony, with the first medal event coming in the women's 10m air rifle in shooting.
Being held in tough and challenging conditions, the IOC and the International Federations (IF) have reached a specific solution for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 to provide further flexibility for team selections in several sports.
Previously, “alternate” replacements were available in the sports of football, handball, hockey, rugby, and water polo; however, these were available only as permanent replacements for the Olympic squads. Now, each National Olympic Committee (NOC) will be able to use these athletes in each match.
This will not increase the number of athletes on-site in Japan but will give more flexibility to select within the wider squads, recognizing the unique situation of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and giving NOCs maximum flexibility in choosing match squads.
While the state-of-the-art competition venues that will stage the Tokyo 2020 events are set, the Olympic Village is getting ready to house more than 11,000 athletes. Located on the picturesque Harumi waterfront district of Tokyo and surrounded by the sea, the Olympic Village has been adapted to ensure the health and safety of its residents.
On the other hand, and as part of the implementation of the IOC Athletes’ Commission’s recommendations, the IOC Executive Board (EB) has approved the Rule 50.2 Guidelines for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Rule 50.2 of the Olympic Charter protects the neutrality of sport at the Olympic Games and the neutrality of the Games event itself. It states that no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
According to the IOC statement, these guidelines, which were presented to the EB by Kirsty Coventry, Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, provide athletes and other Games’ participants with guidance on the implementation of Rule 50.2 of the Olympic Charter.
The new version of the IOC guidelines provides further clarity and guidance to athletes competing in Tokyo this summer on the wide range of opportunities available to them to express their overall views, including their views on the Field of Play prior to the start of the competition.
According to the guidelines, “during the Olympic Games, athletes also have the opportunity to express their views in the following areas: the mixed zones, including when speaking to the media; in the International Broadcasting Centre (IBC) or the Main Media Centre (MMC), including when speaking to the media; during press conferences in the venue or in the MMC; during interviews; at team meetings; in traditional media or digital media; through social media channels; on the field of play prior to the start of the competition (after leaving the “call room” and similar areas, or during the introduction of the individual athlete or team) provided that the expression (for example, gesture) is: consistent with the Fundamental Principles of Olympism; not targeted, directly or indirectly against people, countries, organizations and/or their dignity; not disruptive (by way of example only, the following expressions are considered disruptive expressions during another athlete’s or team’s national anthem and/or introduction, as this may interfere with such other athlete’s or team’s concentration on and/or preparation for the competition; physical interference with the introduction of another athlete or team or the protocol itself (for example by unfurling a flag, a banner etc.); causing (or assuming the risk of causing) physical harm to persons or property, etc.); and not prohibited or otherwise limited by the rules of the relevant National Olympic Committee (NOC) and/or the competition regulations of the relevant International Federation (IF).”
The guidelines further state that “when expressing their views, athletes are expected to respect the applicable laws, the Olympic values, and their fellow athletes. It should be recognized that any behavior and/or expression that constitutes or signals discrimination, hatred, hostility, or the potential for violence on any basis whatsoever is contrary to the Fundamental Principles of Olympism.”
Additionally, the guidelines describe the disciplinary procedure that would apply in the event if the conditions stated above were not respected. The evaluation of cases and the determination of potential disciplinary consequences will be handled by the IOC with full transparency.
“The new guidelines are a result of our extensive consultation with the global athletes’ community,” said IOC AC Chair, Kirsty Coventry. “While the guidelines offer new opportunities for athletes to express themselves prior to the competition, they preserve the competitions on the Field of Play, the ceremonies, the victory ceremonies and the Olympic Village. This was the wish of a big majority of athletes in our global consultation.”