As the postponed Tokyo Olympics finally kick off today, the eyes of the world will be riveted on Japan as several athletes attempt to write their names into Olympics sporting history. Here are 15 facts and figures to help you further understand the Games…
1- The International Olympic Committee is still referring to these games as Tokyo 2020, despite a yearlong postponement because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
2- Japan is hosting the Olympics for the fourth time. The Summer Games were held in Tokyo in 1964. The Winter Games were held in Sapporo in 1972 and in Nagano in 1998.
3- Dates of the Tokyo Olympics: July 23-Aug. 8, 2021 (some soccer and softball games on July 21-22, archery and rowing preliminaries on July 23 ahead of the opening ceremony.)
4- Sports: There are 33 sports and 46 disciplines under the official program. The IOC defines sports by the international federations that govern them: Swimming, diving, artistic swimming (formerly synchronized), open water swimming and water polo are considered disciplines that all fall under the sport of swimming because they are governed by FINA.
5- Sports venues: There are 42 venues spread across the country. Race walking and marathons were moved out of Tokyo to Sapporo (more than 500 miles to the north) due to concerns about the heat.
6- Medal events: 339 medal events.
7- Four new sports: surfing, skateboarding, karate and sport climbing. Baseball and softball are returning for the first time since 2008. There are several new events in traditional sports, including 3×3 basketball and Madison cycling, a two-person team event.
8- Athletes: around 11,000, plus coaches and team officials.
9- Countries: Athletes from 205 national Olympic committees are expected, as well as a team of refugee athletes competing under the Olympic flag. (North Korea, which is not one of the 205, announced in April it would not participate, citing the pandemic.)
10- Russia: All Russian athletes at the Tokyo Games will compete for the Russian Olympic Committee, or ROC. A ruling last year by the Court of Arbitration for Sport banned Russia’s flag, anthem and team name as punishment for an extensive doping program and cover-ups. Russian gold medalists will hear Piano Concerto No. 1 by Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky as the replacement for their national anthem. The team will use the flag of Russia’s Olympic committee rather than the national tricolor, though official team uniforms are in the white, blue and red colors associated with the national flag.
11- Cost: The University of Oxford has said these are the most expensive Olympics on record. The official cost is $15.4 billion, but government audits suggest it might be twice that much. All but $6.7 billion is public money. The IOC, which chips in only about $1.5 billion to the overall cost, earns 91% of its income from broadcast rights and sponsorship. Estimates suggest a cancellation could cost it $3 billion to $4 billion in broadcast rights income.
12- Medals: About 5,000 medals have been produced for Olympians and Paralympians from discarded electronic devices that were contributed by people all over Japan and recycled. There is not necessarily a single gold, silver and bronze medal winner in each of the 339 events. Some competitions – in boxing, judo, taekwondo and wrestling – award two bronze medals. And then there are the occasional event ties, where two or more of one medal may be awarded.
13- Mascots: Miraitowa is the mascot of the Olympics. The name is based on the Japanese words mirai (future) and towa (eternity) combined. Someity is the Paralympics mascot. The name comes from someiyoshino, a popular cherry blossom variety.
14- Medals tables: Final national standings will be compiled based on the number of gold medals per team. Where two teams are tied on the number of gold medals, silver and, if need be, number of bronze medals, will be used to separate them.
15- Olympic sports on the program: archery, athletics (track and field) badminton, baseball/softball, basketball (regular team and 3-on-3), boxing, canoe/kayak (slalom and sprint), cycling (track, road, mountain bike, BMX racing, BMX freestyle), equestrian (dressage, eventing and jumping), fencing, football (soccer), golf, gymnastics (artistic, rhythmic and trampoline), handball, field hockey, judo, karate, modern pentathlon, rowing, rugby sevens, sailing, shooting, skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing, swimming (swimming, diving – springboard and platform, water polo, artistic swimming, marathon swimming), table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon, volleyball (indoor and beach), weightlifting, wrestling (freestyle and Greco-Roman).