Athletes from more than 200 nations worldwide will converge on Tokyo for one of the most peculiar Olympic Games in recent memory.
The 2021 Olympics, delayed a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will finally take place from July 23 through Aug. 8 in Tokyo, even as the pandemic continues to take its toll not just on the sports world, but the world at large. Indeed, the 2021 Olympics — including the opening and closing ceremonies — will be held without spectators amid growing coronavirus numbers in Japan.
Still, look for athletes to take advantage of the worldwide stage as they aim to represent not only themselves, but also their countries.
With that, here’s everything you need to know about the 2021 Games, held in Tokyo:
MORE: Day-by-day schedule of events for the 2021 Olympics
Where are the Olympics in 2021?
The 2021 Olympics are being held in Tokyo, a decision that was made in 2013 during the 125th International Olympic Commission Session. It is the second time in Tokyo’s history that it will host the Olympic Games. It is Japan’s fourth time hosting the event, and first since the 1998 Winter Games.
Below is a rundown of the previous times Japan has hosted the Olympics:
Tokyo Olympics venues
There are 42 Olympic venues spread across Japan. Here is a complete list, along with the sports that will take place there.
|Olympic Stadium||Opening/Closing Ceremonies, Track & Field, Soccer|
|Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium||Table Tennis|
|Yoyogi National Stadium||Handball|
|Nippon Budokan||Judo, Karate|
|Tokyo International Forum||Weightlifting|
|Musashino Forest Sport Plaza||Badminton, Pentathlon|
|Tokyo Stadium||Soccer, Pentathlon, Rugby|
|Ariake Arena||Indoor Volleyball|
|Ariake Gymnastics Centre||Gymnastics|
|Ariake Urban Sports Park||Cycling, BMX Racing/Freestyle, Skateboarding|
|Ariake Tennis Park||Tennis|
|Odaiba Marine Park||Marathon Swimming, Triathlon|
|Shiokaze Park||Beach Volleyball|
|Aomi Urban Sports Park||3-on-3 Basketball, Sport Climbing|
|Oi Hockey Stadium||Field Hockey|
|Sea Forest Cross-Country Course||Equestrian — Eventing, Cross Country|
|Sea Forest Waterway||Canoe Sprint, Rowing|
|Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre||Canoe Slalom|
|Yumenoshima Park Archery Field||Archery|
|Tokyo Aquatics Centre||Swimming, Artistic Swimming, Diving|
|Tatsumi Water Polo Centre||Water Polo|
|Asaka Shooting Range||Shooting|
|Musashinonomori Park||Cycling Road|
|Sapporo Odori Park||Marathon, Race Walking|
|Makuhari Messe Hall||Fencing, Taekwondo, Wrestling|
|Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach||Surfing|
|Saitama Super Arena||Basketball|
|Kasumigaseki Country Club||Golf|
|Enoshima Yacht Harbour||Sailing|
|Izu Velodrome and MTB Course||Cycling Track, Mountain Bike|
|Fuji International Speedway||Cycling Road|
|Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium||Baseball, Softball|
|Yokohama Baseball Stadium||Baseball, Softball|
|Ibaraki Kashima Stadium||Soccer|
|International Stadium Yokohama||Soccer|
Are fans allowed at the Olympics?
Fans will not be allowed to attend the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo after the IOC on July 8 declared the 2021 Games would be conducted without fan attendance. The decision was made after Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency in the Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama prefectures in the country’s Kanto region. The state of emergency will run through Aug. 22, two weeks after the conclusion of the Olympics.
Non-Japanese spectators had already been banned from attending the Games amid growing concerns that their attendance would present significant challenges in limiting the spread of the coronavirus. Yoshihide’s declared state of emergency, issued amid growing COVID-19 numbers in Japan, removed local residents from consideration as well. It is still possible that events held outside Tokyo — such as race walking and marathons, which were moved to Sapporo — can still include fan attendance, at the discretion of local authorities.
“It is regrettable that we are delivering the Games in a very limited format, facing the spread of coronavirus infections,” Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto said in a statement announcing the IOC’s decision. “I am sorry for those who purchased tickets.”
“(Athletes) wanted a lot of people to watch their performances, but many of the Japanese public were worried about the COVID-19 situation, even with the solid countermeasures, because of the flow of people and because of various concerns.
“The anxiety is being expressed and a lot of people are opposed. Every person is entitled to have every different thought but overriding these differences, athletes will do their best.”
Despite growing fears of increased COVID-19 cases, athletes do not need to be vaccinated to participate in the Games. They will, however, undergo daily testing to ensure their health and safety, as well as those of coaches and other essential personnel.
What is the time difference in Tokyo?
Tokyo — which operates out of Japan Standard Time — is 13 hours ahead of the United States’ Eastern Standard Time Zone, and 16 hours ahead of the Pacific Time Zone. That means there will be significant delays between the running of events as they happen and NBC’s broadcast of said events.
How much did the Olympics cost?
A study by the University of Oxford (England) estimates the 2021 Tokyo Olympics are the most expensive in history, costing in excess of $15 billion. That includes $1.4 billion alone for the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, which will serve as the site of the Olympic ceremonies, plus all track and field and soccer events.
Japan estimated in 2013 — when it was actively bidding for host privileges for the 2020 Olympics — that it would cost $7.6 billion to host the Games. That estimate ballooned to $12.6 billion in 2020, before their postponement. The additional year tacked on another $2.8 billion in costs, for an estimated grand total of $15.4 billion.
MORE: Olympic athlete puts ‘anti-sex’ beds to the test
Olympic Village conditions
The Tokyo Olympic village — comprising 108 acres, 21 residential buildings and 3,800 condos — has been established in Tokyo’s Harumi waterfront district, roughly three-and-a-half miles from the Olympic Stadium. It includes fitness and recreation centers, a doping control station and a polyclinic.
Roughly 18,000 athletes and officials are expected to stay there during the Games, with the former being instructed to arrive no earlier than five days before their competition starts and to stay no more than two days after it concludes.
The Olympic Village has a historic reputation for intimacy between athletes, not only of the same country, but also neighboring nations. That appeared not to be the case for the 2021 Games after IOC officials put in beds with cardboard frames designed to hold only 440 pounds at a time.
Beds to be installed in Tokyo Olympic Village will be made of cardboard, this is aimed at avoiding intimacy among athletes
Beds will be able to withstand the weight of a single person to avoid situations beyond sports.
I see no problem for distance runners,even 4 of us can do😂 pic.twitter.com/J45wlxgtSo
— Paul Chelimo🇺🇸🥈🥉 (@Paulchelimo) July 17, 2021
That myth seems to have been debunked, however, after Irish pommel horse Olympian Rhys McClenaghan posted a video of himself jumping up and down on the bed — suggesting they are able to withstand significant, ahem, activity.
That said, Japan Today reports that IOC officials have distributed 160,000 condoms ahead of the 2021 Games, directing athletes to use them upon their return to their respective countries of origin.