Here’s a look at the 2020 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo, postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The games took place July 23-August 8, 2021. The Paralympics took place August 24-September 5, 2021.
This is the second time the Olympics will be held in Tokyo, which previously hosted the Games in 1964. Tokyo led an unsuccessful bid to host the 2016 Olympics.
The 1972 and 1998 Winter Games were also hosted by Japan, in Sapporo and Nagano, respectively.
Invitations to the games were sent to countries, states and territories represented by 206 National Olympic Committees and to the Refugee Olympic Team.
Design and Construction
The Japanese government originally selected British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid to design Tokyo’s new National Stadium, though the project was later given to architect Kengo Kuma following high-profile criticisms and spiraling costs.
Kuma sourced more than 70,000 cubic feet of timber from each of the country’s 47 prefectures for the stadium. “We wanted to create something that captures the people’s thoughts on the environment or the Earth at the time,” Kuma told CNN in an interview in June 2019.
Athletes competing in the games will sleep on bed frames made of cardboard and mattresses made of plastic to reduce the event’s carbon footprint, according to organizers.
May 23, 2012 - Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo are announced as the three finalists to host the 2020 Olympics.
September 7, 2013 - The winning city, Tokyo, is announced in Buenos Aires.
May 7, 2014 - NBC agrees to pay $7.7 billion to broadcast the Olympics through the 2032 Summer Games. The 2032 Olympics will be the 23rd to be broadcast by the network.
August 3, 2016 - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) adds five new sports to the games: skateboarding, karate, surfing, sports climbing and baseball/softball.
April 2017-March 2019 - The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee launches its “Everyone’s Medal” campaign, calling on citizens to donate devices that could be stripped of their metals for both the Olympics and Paralympics. More than 6 million used cellphones, or around 79,000 tons of used cellphones and other small electronic devices, are collected.
February 28, 2018 - The mascots for the Olympic and Paralympic games are announced. According to organizers, the mascots are futuristic superhero creatures with “opposite personalities” but who “respect each other and are very good friends.”
July 21, 2018 - The names of the Olympic and Paralympic mascots are revealed. Miraitowa, pronounced “miray-towa,” is the blue and white checked Olympic mascot. The name combines the Japanese words mirai, meaning future, and towa, meaning eternity. Someity, pronounced “soh-may-tee,” is the pink and white Paralympics mascot. Someity is named after the cherry blossom variety Someiyoshino, and the English phrase “so mighty.”
August 7, 2018 - The Tokyo 2020 Olympic committee says it will use facial recognition to improve safety and make security lines more efficient for participants – a priority because high temperatures are expected. All accredited individuals, including athletes, officials, staff and press, will have their facial images stored in a database and matched upon entry. NEC Corporation is providing the software.
July 24, 2019 - The newly designed medals are presented. They have a pebble-like appearance and measure 8.5 centimeters in diameter. All medals will be produced from gold, silver and bronze (in this case, copper and zinc) stripped from donated cellphones and other electronics.
December 4, 2019 - According to a Greenpeace report, high-level radiation hot spots can be detected at a sports complex in Japan’s northeastern Fukushima prefecture, where the Olympics torch relay will begin on March 26, 2020. In response to the report, Japan’s environment ministry says it conducted further decontamination. Radiation monitoring at the stadium will also be enhanced.
December 15, 2019 - The stadium that will host the opening and closing ceremonies at the Olympics and Paralympics is inaugurated. The 68,000-seat stadium, designed by architect Kengo Kuma, cost 157 billion yen ($1.4 billion).
January 10, 2020 - Three-page guidelines handed out by the IOC warn athletes not to protest on the field, on the medal stand, in the Olympic Village or during the Opening or Closing Ceremonies. The new guide also covers political signs and armbands.
March 12, 2020 - The lighting ceremony takes place in Olympia, Greece. Due to fear of coronavirus exposure, the audience is kept small. The relay through the country is suspended the next day because large crowds cause the same concern. The Torch Relay is scheduled to travel to all 47 prefectures in Japan over 121 days beginning March 26, 2020.
March 30, 2020 - The IOC announces that the Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 23 to August 8 in 2021.
December 22, 2020 - The organizing committee says the postponed games are set to cost $15.4 billion, $2.8 billion more than initially projected. The updated budget includes $900 million for pandemic countermeasures.
May 26, 2021 - Leading Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun publishes an editorial calling for the event to be canceled as the country remains in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic. The newspaper is an official partner of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
July 8, 2021 - The Japanese Olympic Committee announces Tokyo venues for the 2020 Olympics will not have spectators due to the city’s coronavirus state of emergency through the Games.