|Competition type||Olympic Games|
|Number and Year||XXXII / 2020|
|Host city||Tokyo, Japan (Venues)|
|Opening ceremony||23 July 2021|
|Closing ceremony||8 August 2021|
|Competition dates||21 July – 8 August 2021|
|OCOG||Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games|
|Participants||11316 from 206 countries|
|Medal events||339 in 49 disciplines|
After the difficult times at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and the spiraling costs of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Tokyo, Japan seemed a safe bet to host the 2020 Olympics when it was announced as host at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 7 September 2013. Tokyo had hosted the 1964 Olympic Games, a sublime celebration, and few doubted that it could again produce the same magic, but events do not always follow their expected plans.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were scheduled to start on 24 July 2020, but in January-February of the Olympic year, reports began to trickle out of Wuhan, China of a deadly virus, eventually called SARS-CoV-2. By early-March 2020, that virus had sparked a world-wide pandemic. Governments went into lockdowns, shutting down businesses, forcing workers to work from home, preventing children from attending school in person, and the world became more virtual than ever before.
The IOC briefly and adamantly insisted that the 2020 Olympics could go on in July-August 2020, but finally on 24 March it realized there was no option and the Olympic Games were postponed for the first time in history. They were to take part on basically the same schedule, but one year later, starting on 23 July 2021.
Even that date seemed optimistic to many as the pandemic, eventually labelled COVID-19, refused to abate, and there were few good treatment options. The scientific and medical communities went into overdrive and developed several vaccines that governments began authorizing by November and December 2020. Many European and North American nations had seen a large portion of their populations vaccinated by mid-2021, but as late as June 2021, Japan had less than 10% of their people vaccinated.
Still, somehow the Games went on, with the athletes, coaches, officials, and media ensconced in an Olympian-sized sterile bubble, tested daily, restricted to minimal non-Games activities, with virtually no spectators onlooking, and with the athletes asked to leave Tokyo as soon as their participation ended. It seemed a most surreal Olympic experience.
In the end the athletes came through, as they always do at the Olympics. Though it seemed to attract little notice outside of Australia, the most impressive performance in Tokyo belonged to Aussie swimmer Emma McKeon, who won 7 medals, with 4 golds, the seven medals matching the all-time Olympic best for a female at a single Olympics, previously set by Soviet gymnast Mariya Gorokhovskaya at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. On the men’s side, American swimmer Caeleb Dressel took home 5 gold medals, but with little of the fanfare that had accompanied Michael Phelps or Mark Spitz.
There were other landmark accomplishments, as German dressage rider Isabell Werth won a gold medal at a sixth consecutive Olympics, equaling the mark of Hungarian fencer Aládar Gerevich. For Werth, she also won her 11th and 12th Olympic medals, in her 11th and 12th Olympic events.
On the track, Norway’s Karsten Warholm possibly had the single most stunning performance of the Games, narrowly winning gold in the 400 metre hurdles over his arch-rival Rai Benjamin (USA) in a Beamon-like world record of 45.94. In the distaff version of the same event, American Sydney McLaughlin also pushed the world record to unthought of regions, recording 51.46 to defeat the defending gold medalist, her teammate Dalilah Muhammad.
A number of innovations and firsts also occurred at Tokyo. Three new sports were added – skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing, and baseball and softball were returned to the Olympic Program after they were dropped after the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Nino Salukvadze, the Georgian sport shooter who previously competed for the Soviet Union and the Unified Team, became the first female to compete in nine Olympic Games, first having competed at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
And while one nation skipped Tokyo – DPR Korea or North Korea – there were 206 nations present, as the world came together with 93 nations winning medals, the most ever after 2008 Beijing when 87 nations had won medals. Of these, 65 nations won gold medals, also a record, with Bermuda, the Philippines, and Qatar winning their first ever gold medals, and Burkina Faso, San Marino, and Turkmenistan winning their first Olympics medals.
Yet it all seemed to occur so quietly, as the athletes almost took a backseat to a small virus that still locked the world in its grasp. As the Games proceeded, reports of increased numbers of cases from the Delta-variant of the virus made the Olympics seem unimportant in comparison, especially as cases in Tokyo and Japan kept reaching record high numbers during the Olympic fortnite.
As they always do, the Olympic Games had brought the world together, but at a time when everyone was trying to live apart. Was it worth it? How would Tokyo 2020 be remembered? At the Closing Ceremony, the chair of the Tokyo Organizing Committee, Seiko Hashimoto, told the small gathering of athletes, officials, and journalists that they had “accepted what seemed unimaginable, understood what had to be done and, through hard work and perseverance, overcome unbelievable challenges.” IOC President Thomas Bach noted that “these were an unprecedented Olympic Games.”
A generation hence, would we remember McKeon, Dressel, Warholm, Werth, Salukvadze, or McLaughlin, or would they simply be names lost to us among the many lives lost to us from a deadly virus?
Bid voting at the 123rd IOC Congress in Buenos Aires on 7 September 2013. Because of the number of candidate cities, an Evaluation Commission of the IOC was nominated whose task was to pare the number of candidates down to a more workable three prior to the final vote.
There were three eliminated cities: Ad-Dawhah (Doha) (Qatar), Roma (Italy) and Bakı (Azerbaijan).
|Round 1||Tiebreak||Round 2|
|Artistic Gymnastics||Equestrian Eventing||Softball|
|Artistic Swimming||Equestrian Jumping||Sport Climbing|
|Canoe Sprint||Marathon Swimming||Volleyball|
|Cycling BMX Freestyle||Modern Pentathlon||Water Polo|
|Cycling BMX Racing||Rhythmic Gymnastics||Weightlifting|
|Cycling Mountain Bike||Rowing||Wrestling|
|Cycling Road||Rugby Sevens|
|People's Republic of China||CHN||38||32||18||88|
|Russian Olympic Committee||ROC||20||28||23||71|
|Republic of Korea||KOR||6||4||10||20|
|Islamic Republic of Iran||IRI||3||2||2||7|
|Hong Kong, China||HKG||1||2||3||6|
|Kingdom of Saudi Arabia||KSA||0||1||0||1|
|Republic of Moldova||MDA||0||0||1||1|
|Syrian Arab Republic||SYR||0||0||1||1|
|Vitalina Batsarashkina|| RUS
|Yevgeny Rylov|| RUS