Venues secured for COVID-delayed Olympics


Tokyo 2021 Olympic Stadium Image: Tokyo 2020 Org. Committee

All 43 venues for next year’s biggest sporting extravaganza – Tokyo Olympics – have been locked down. The schedule has also been confirmed for the postponed Summer Olympics. This was confirmed by the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020).

The event was originally scheduled to take place between July 24 and August 9, 2020, but it was postponed in March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which devastated the whole world. The Games of the XXXII Olympiad will keep the name Tokyo 2020 for marketing and branding purposes even if they are held in 2021.

Securing the venues once again was one of the main challenges facing organizers after March’s announcement that the 2020 Olympics would be rescheduled to begin July 23, 2021, and run through August 8 of next year.

Tokyo 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) agreed in April that given the very grave coronavirus situation and the critical impact of the competition schedule on every aspect of preparation, each session of the 2021 competition would in principle be scheduled as originally planned for 2020. This has been reflected in the confirmed competition schedule, with the start and end times of certain events adjusted for operational reasons.

Events in 2021 will take place at the same facilities that were planned to be used in 2020. This means the status of all 43 competition venues, the Olympic Village, and the International Broadcast Centre and Main Press Centre will remain the same for the Olympic Games in 2021.

Tokyo 2020 will kick off with softball on July 21, two days before the opening ceremony, at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium. Preliminary football matches will start on the same day, with rowing preliminary events and archery ranking rounds also to be staged on the opening day ceremony.

The first medal event, the women’s shooting 10m air rifle, will be held on July 24, along with medal events in six more sports – archery, cycling (road race), fencing, judo, taekwondo and weightlifting. Urban sports, a new feature of the Tokyo Games, will commence with men’s and women’s 3×3 basketball on July 24. Urban sports will be held in the Aomi and Ariake areas throughout almost the entire period of the Games.

Super Saturday’ and ‘Golden Sunday’ has been scheduled for July 31st and August 1st by Tokyo 2020. The second half of the Games, from July 30 onward, will feature semi-finals and finals in wrestling, karate and other team events, as well as athletics events at the new Olympic Stadium, the main venue of the sporting showpiece.

August 7, the day before the closing ceremony, will fall on another Super Saturday, wherein 34 event finals will be held, the highest single day number during the Games. The final day of the Olympic Games, August 8, will commence with the relocated men’s marathon in Sapporo (city in Hokkaido, Japan). The last medal event will be the men’s water polo final. The victory ceremony for the women’s marathon will be held during the closing ceremony for the first time in Olympic history.

IOC President Thomas Bach observed, “The Olympic Village is the beating heart of the Olympic Games, while the venues are its soul. I am delighted that the Village and the venues have been confirmed for next year. This means that the athletes will have this once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

“With only one year to go, a mammoth task still lies ahead of us. With our Japanese partners and friends, we agree that we have to adapt the planning of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 to the requirements of the global crisis, while maintaining the unique spirit and message that defines our mission,” Bach added.

“We are working to optimize the operations and services without touching on sports and athletes. In this way we can, together with the Organising Committee, turn these postponed Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 into an unprecedented celebration of unity and solidarity of humankind, making them a symbol of resilience and hope. Showing that we are stronger together.”

The IOC Session was also apprised about the developments being made to simplify and optimize the Games, with the support of all delivery partners from the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the Coordination Commission.

In addition, the All Partner Task Force, which includes experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and local Japanese Government authorities, continues to advise the Games organizers amid COVID-19, and the several countermeasures to be adopted.

Speaking at a press meet, Tokyo 2020 boss Toshiro Muto said the additional costs of the year-long delay will be announced as early as this autumn. Bach added that cutting down on spectator numbers could be a means to enhance the safety quotient at the Games.

Bach added, “This is one of the scenarios we have to look at. This has to do with travel restrictions and quarantines, but it’s too early to tell. It’s not what we want. We would like to see venues full of enthusiastic fans.”

This news comes after a recent telephone survey covering 721 randomly selected households with eligible voters and 1,374 mobile phone numbers showed that less than 25 per cent of those questioned supported the Olympics going ahead in 2021. Further delay or cancellation of the sporting spectacle was supported by 75.3 per cent of those questioned, saying there seemed to be a remote possibility of the fatal respiratory disease getting contained anytime soon.

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