2020 Summer Olympics

Facts

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

Overview

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 process

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
Tokyo Japan 42 60
İstanbul Turkey 26 49 36
Madrid Spain 26 45

Ceremonies

Medal Disciplines

3x3 Basketball Diving Shooting
Archery Equestrian Dressage Skateboarding
Artistic Gymnastics Equestrian Eventing Softball
Artistic Swimming Equestrian Jumping Sport Climbing
Athletics Fencing Surfing
Badminton Football Swimming
Baseball Golf Table Tennis
Basketball Handball Taekwondo
Beach Volleyball Hockey Tennis
Boxing Judo Trampolining
Canoe Slalom Karate Triathlon
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
Cycling Track Sailing

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
United States USA 39 41 33 113
People's Republic of China CHN 38 32 18 88
Japan JPN 27 14 17 58
Great Britain GBR 22 21 22 65
Russian Olympic Committee ROC 20 28 23 71
Australia AUS 17 7 22 46
Netherlands NED 10 12 14 36
France FRA 10 12 11 33
Germany GER 10 11 16 37
Italy ITA 10 10 20 40
Canada CAN 7 6 11 24
Brazil BRA 7 6 8 21
New Zealand NZL 7 6 7 20
Cuba CUB 7 3 5 15
Hungary HUN 6 7 7 20
Republic of Korea KOR 6 4 10 20
Poland POL 4 5 5 14
Czech Republic CZE 4 4 3 11
Kenya KEN 4 4 2 10
Norway NOR 4 2 2 8
Jamaica JAM 4 1 4 9
Spain ESP 3 8 6 17
Sweden SWE 3 6 0 9
Switzerland SUI 3 4 6 13
Denmark DEN 3 4 4 11
Croatia CRO 3 3 2 8
Islamic Republic of Iran IRI 3 2 2 7
Serbia SRB 3 1 5 9
Belgium BEL 3 1 3 7
Bulgaria BUL 3 1 2 6
Slovenia SLO 3 1 1 5
Uzbekistan UZB 3 0 2 5
Georgia GEO 2 5 1 8
Chinese Taipei TPE 2 4 6 12
Turkey TUR 2 2 9 13
Greece GRE 2 1 1 4
Uganda UGA 2 1 1 4
Ecuador ECU 2 1 0 3
Ireland IRL 2 0 2 4
Israel ISR 2 0 2 4
Qatar QAT 2 0 1 3
Kosovo KOS 2 0 0 2
The Bahamas BAH 2 0 0 2
Ukraine UKR 1 6 12 19
Belarus BLR 1 3 3 7
Romania ROU 1 3 0 4
Venezuela VEN 1 3 0 4
India IND 1 2 4 7
Hong Kong, China HKG 1 2 3 6
Philippines PHI 1 2 1 4
Slovakia SVK 1 2 1 4
South Africa RSA 1 2 0 3
Austria AUT 1 1 5 7
Egypt EGY 1 1 4 6
Indonesia INA 1 1 3 5
Ethiopia ETH 1 1 2 4
Portugal POR 1 1 2 4
Tunisia TUN 1 1 0 2
Estonia EST 1 0 1 2
Fiji FIJ 1 0 1 2
Latvia LAT 1 0 1 2
Thailand THA 1 0 1 2
Bermuda BER 1 0 0 1
Morocco MAR 1 0 0 1
Puerto Rico PUR 1 0 0 1
Colombia COL 0 4 1 5
Azerbaijan AZE 0 3 4 7
Dominican Republic DOM 0 3 2 5
Armenia ARM 0 2 2 4
Kyrgyzstan KGZ 0 2 1 3
Mongolia MGL 0 1 3 4
Argentina ARG 0 1 2 3
San Marino SMR 0 1 2 3
Jordan JOR 0 1 1 2
Malaysia MAS 0 1 1 2
Nigeria NGR 0 1 1 2
Bahrain BRN 0 1 0 1
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia KSA 0 1 0 1
Lithuania LTU 0 1 0 1
Namibia NAM 0 1 0 1
North Macedonia MKD 0 1 0 1
Turkmenistan TKM 0 1 0 1
Kazakhstan KAZ 0 0 8 8
Mexico MEX 0 0 4 4
Finland FIN 0 0 2 2
Botswana BOT 0 0 1 1
Burkina Faso BUR 0 0 1 1
Côte d'Ivoire CIV 0 0 1 1
Ghana GHA 0 0 1 1
Grenada GRN 0 0 1 1
Kuwait KUW 0 0 1 1
Republic of Moldova MDA 0 0 1 1
Syrian Arab Republic SYR 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Caeleb Dressel USA 5 0 0 5
Emma McKeon AUS 4 0 3 7
Kaylee McKeown AUS 3 0 1 4
Lisa Carrington NZL 3 0 0 3
Elaine Thompson-Herah JAM 3 0 0 3
An San KOR 3 0 0 3
Katie Ledecky USA 2 2 0 4
Zhang Yufei CHN 2 2 0 4
Ariarne Titmus AUS 2 1 1 4
Vitalina Batsarashkina RUS
ROC
2 1 0 3
Adam Peaty GBR 2 1 0 3
James Guy GBR 2 1 0 3
Yevgeny Rylov RUS
ROC
2 1 0 3
Daiki Hashimoto JPN 2 1 0 3

All medalists at these Games