Answers to all your questions about the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, rescheduled for summer 2021

May 10, 2021, 11:00 PM UTC

Is it happening?

Yes. Against all odds, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are set to go on after a yearlong delay.  

Where are the 2020 Olympics?

The Olympics are being hosted by Japan in the city of Tokyo. Despite the country currently going through its fourth wave of coronavirus infections, Japan feels it has a lot riding on these games.

But luckily, even if Japanese officials do change their mind, the IMF has said canceling or postponing the Tokyo Olympic Games probably will not greatly hurt the nation’s economy, though its small companies may require government support.

When are the Olympics?

If all goes ahead, the Olympics will run from July 23 until Aug. 8, and the Paralympics will run from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.

Is every country participating?

So far, North Korea is the only country that has said it will not be participating in the Olympics to shield their athletes from COVID-19.

What do Japanese citizens think?

A majority of Japanese citizens are against the Games. In a survey conducted by Kyodo News in April, 72% of Japanese citizens are in favor of canceling the Olympics.

Can foreigners travel to the Games?

No overseas fans will be permitted to attend the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The opening ceremony will be held behind closed doors. The Games can be streamed online via NBC, NBC Sports, and the Olympic Channel.

How much has Japan spent on the Olympics already?

In an online news conference in December, organizers said the Olympics will cost $15.4 billion to stage, with the yearlong delay contributing $2.8 billion to the growing costs. This year’s Olympics is already the most expensive of any Summer Games in history, according to a November study from the University of Oxford, with costs consistently ballooning.

In 2013, Japan initially earmarked $7.5 billion to pay for hosting. This was then increased to $12.6 billion to pay for unaccounted safety measures. And Japan’s National Audit Board expects the costs to grow even more, noting in a report prepared for the national legislature that the budget would exceed the $12.6 billion budget by $9.7 billion.

Who is sponsoring the Games?

According to the Tokyo committee’s latest budget, local sponsorship will be the city’s biggest earner, generating $3.3 billion in revenue—double any advertising earned by previous Games.

But Reuters reported in January a number of Olympic sponsors are waiting to launch their Olympic advertising campaigns until the general sentiment toward the Olympics is fully understood. With the Japanese people heavily against the Games, supporting the event doesn’t hold as much appeal for brands.

The hefty price tag to advertise when it is unclear how many viewers will tune in to the Games might also prove a turnoff.

How much COVID-19 testing will be done?

A lot. All participants are required to take two COVID-19 tests before their flight to Japan. Once they arrive, athletes and others in proximity to athletes will be tested daily to minimize the risk of virus transmission.

Will there be social distancing?

Strictly. All Games participants have to minimize contact with all Japanese residents and other Games participants who have already been in Japan for more than 14 days by up to one meter. Knowing Japan’s penchant for following rules, these regulations will likely be rigorously enforced.

What will athlete accommodations look like?

A bit depressing. While the Olympic Village is normally known for its festive atmosphere, this year’s village, already built on the Harumi Waterfront, is unlikely to live up to that reputation.

The International Olympic Committee is barring athletes from entering the village more than five days prior to their first event, and they are required to leave within two days of their final competition. Ordinarily, athletes can spend the entire duration of the Games at the village—beyond their final event and up to the closing ceremony.

Athletes can also rule out seeing the sights of Japan or eating out. All Games participants will have to follow a strict itinerary all day and will be chauffeured by Games vehicles to minimize the risk of transmission. Participants will not be allowed to use public transport.

For food, athletes will be allowed to eat in locations where COVID-19 countermeasures have been put in place, which only includes catering facilities at Games venues, their accommodation’s restaurant, and their rooms using room service or food delivery.

On the bright side, Ryan Lochte won’t be filing any false robbery reports.

Can non-vaccinated athletes participate?

The International Olympic Committee has said that while it supports the vaccination of athletes, one does not need to be vaccinated to participate in the Games. A significant number of Olympic teams have already been vaccinated, and others had received commitments from their governments, according to president of the IOC Thomas Bach.

That being said, the IOC has also received an offer from the Chinese Olympic Committee—host of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022—to make Chinese-produced vaccines available to athletes.

Details are still being worked out, but Bach confirmed that the IOC is ready to pay for additional doses of vaccines for the Olympic and Paralympic teams.

What happens if an athlete tests positive?

Sadly, if any athlete participating in the Games tests positive, he or she will have to immediately self-isolate and will be barred from participating in any event.

Is Japan using an app for tracking?

A COVID-19 track and trace app is being developed for ¥7.3 billion ($69 million) and will be connected to the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s electronic visa system and Health Ministry’s HER-SYS system. The app will centralize information on foreign visitors’ movements, health conditions, and COVID-19 test results.

However, there are mounting concerns over whether the multimillion-dollar app will be ready in time for the Olympics.

Has the torch passing begun?

The torch passing ceremony has already begun, but certain regions of Japan have canceled their portion of the run—increasing tensions across the country. The Okinawa island region of Japan announced it would not run its leg of the race owing to the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

What cool new sports are there?

Baseball and softball are making a return after a 13-year absence. New sports include karate, surfing, skateboarding, and sport climbing.

Several sports are adding relays or other competitions for mixed gender teams, including track, swimming, triathlon, archery, and table tennis.

Our mission to make business better is fueled by readers like you. To enjoy unlimited access to our journalism, subscribe today.