Being one year before the Games, 2019 is a happy and eventful year with “One Year to Go” events and many test events. Prime time to check out Tokyo 2020 venues.
Updated: July 23, 2022
Compiled and written by Philbert Ono (former TOCOG employee). Preserving Tokyo 2020 history and memories.
IOC: International Olympic Committee
IPC: International Paralympic Committee
TOCOG: Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games
TMG: Tokyo Metropolitan Government
NOC: National Olympic Committee
NPC: National Paralympic Committee
Five organizers: TOCOG, IOC, IPC, TMG, and government of Japan
WHO: World Health Organization
All venues also have a three-letter abbreviation.
🔴 Important events and milestones for Tokyo 2020.
🍀 Important developments and milestones for Games volunteers (“Field Cast”).
*Japanese personal names are written with the family name before the given name.
*Click/tap on the image thumbnail to enlarge the image.
*To correct any errors in this chronology, contact us.
January 6, 2019: NHK TV starts to air its year-long, weekly “NHK Taiga Drama” titled Idaten (Swift Runner) dramatizing Japan’s involvement in the Olympics from 1912 to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. It focuses on Japanese marathon runner Shiso Kanakuri (played by Nakamura Kankuro VI) and swimming coach Tabata Masaji (played by Abe Sadao). The last episode airs on December 15, 2019. The series receive a low average rating of only 8.2 percent.
🍀January 25, 2019: TOCOG announces that a total of 204,680 people in Japan and overseas applied to be Tokyo 2020 Games volunteers, dispelling any doubts over getting enough volunteers. About 73,684 of the applicants are foreign nationals, and about 130,996 are Japanese.
🍀 Late January 2019–July 2019: The TOCOG Games Volunteer Office sends email notifications to selected volunteer applicants to make reservations to attend one of the Orientation and Interview sessions starting in February 2019. Invited applicants can either attend in person in Tokyo (Tokyo Sports Square near Yurakucho Station) or overseas applicants can hold an online video call. The email invitations are sent out in batches until July 2019.
Being invited to the Orientation and Interview is the first step to become a Games volunteer and those invited are highly likely to become Games volunteers. At least 80,421 Games volunteer applicants receive an invitation. Those who do not receive an invitation are greatly disappointed after they receive an official rejection email in September 2019.
Of the 80,421 selected, only about 9,651 (12%) are foreign nationals from 120 countries and only about 2,300 (2.9%) are foreign nationals overseas. Most selected foreign nationals are Japan residents.
🍀January 28, 2019: TOCOG announces that Games volunteers will be nicknamed “Field Cast” as chosen by volunteer applicants by popular vote from the four shortlisted nicknames: “Field Cast,” “Games Anchor,” “Games Force,” and “Shining Blue.”
“Field Cast” received 16,187 out of 37,739 votes, and “Shining Blue” came in second place with 10,328 votes.
Also, city volunteers are nicknamed “City Cast.” They will provide travel and sightseeing information to spectators and tourists at airports, train stations, etc. They are recruited by TMG and other local governments where there are competition venues. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/01/29/national/field-cast-chosen-nickname-2020-tokyo-olympics-volunteers/
January 12–13, 2019: Saitama Prefecture’s “Homestays in Saitama 2020” program starts. The program offers free overnight homestays to Tokyo 2020 press members and staff by local residents of Saitama. The homestay includes a tour of Olympic venues and sights in Saitama. About 670 families in Saitama Prefecture are registered as host families.
A total of eight homestay tours for small groups of foreigners are conducted until Jan. 2020. The program aims to offer homestays even to athletes’ family members and Games volunteers during the Games for maximum three nights. However, the program is canceled in April 2021 due to coronavirus and switches to online meetings. https://www.pref.saitama.lg.jp/oly-para/eng/hospitality/homestay/homestaytopics/homestaytour201901.html
Saitama homestay report: https://photoguide.jp/log/2020/01/homestay-in-saitama-prefecture-2020/
🍀 Field Cast Orientation and Interview
🍀February 9, 2019: Orientation and interviews for invited (selected) “Field Cast” Games volunteer applicants start in Tokyo at Tokyo Sports Square in Yurakucho. The in-person Orientation/interviews are held in Tokyo until July 2019 and on a few days in 11 other prefectures. Games volunteer applicants are required to attend one of the Orientation/interview sessions held during this period.
In Tokyo, the Orientation/Interview session first has 170 volunteer applicants in a large room seated at tables in random groups of six. There is a short slide show talk, group activity to promote teamwork (building a freestanding tower with newspapers), and a short interview in a different room.
In the interview room, volunteer applicants have their photo ID checked and are interviewed in pairs by two interviewers for about 10 minutes. Very simple questions. Then there is a fitting area to try on mock volunteer uniforms for size. The Orientation/Interview session lasts 90–120 minutes. Photos: https://www.volasapo.tokyo/column/2020/445/
February 12, 2019: Japanese star swimmer, media darling, and megapopular 19-year-old Ikee Rikako (pronounced “Ee-kay”) announces on Twitter that she has been diagnosed with leukemia. Being an Olympic medal contender, the news shocks the Japanese sports world. She is hospitalized for chemotherapy and gives up competing in Tokyo 2020. (She eventually recovers well enough to qualify and compete at Tokyo 2020.)
February 28, 2019: TOCOG decides that smoking will be prohibited at all Tokyo 2020 competition venues.
February 2019: Construction of the Ranking/Training Field at Yumenoshima Park Archery Field is completed. Final Field (temporary facility) to be built later.
March 15, 2019: Train and subway operators in Tokyo agree to extend the hours of train/subway operation by 1.5 hour at night during the Games. (This is not implemented due to no spectators.)
🔴 March 12, 2019: Sports pictograms for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are unveiled.
March 20, 2019: Torch relay torches are unveiled to show a cherry blossom design. Lightweight aluminum weighing 1.2 kg. About 30 percent of the aluminum was recycled from scrapped temporary housing in the Tohoku Region. Top view of the torch reveals a cherry blossom design. The Olympic torch is in “Sakura gold“, and the Paralympic torch in “Sakura pink.” Torches were designed by Yoshioka Tokujin (吉岡徳仁), a prominent designer.
🔴 March 31, 2019: TMG’s two-year project named “Tokyo 2020 Medal Project” to collect and recycle precious metals from old cell phones and other small electronic devices from the public ends successfully.
About 78,985 tons of electronic devices and 6.21 million old cell phones collected by NTT docomo shops nationwide are enough to extract 32 kg of gold, 3,500 kg of silver, and 2,200 kg of bronze. All 5,000 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic medals would be made with 100 percent recycled metals collected by this project.
March 2019: As part of a project to promote Japanese culture, the sale of licensed Tokyo 2020 products taking the form of traditional Japanese crafts starts.
Starting with craft products made in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures, 305 craft products from all 47 prefectures eventually become available by April 2021 in official shops and the online store. The Yokosuka Sukajan jacket and Takasaki daruma dolls prove to be popular. https://tokyo2020shop.jp/products/list?category_id=168
March 2019: Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center (Tatsumi Water Polo Centre) reopens after completing major renovations since November 2018.
April 2019–Nov. 2020: Due to renovation work and use by Tokyo 2020, Tokyo Big Sight‘s East Hall (International Broadcast Centre or IBC) becomes unavailable for trade shows. Also, the West Hall (Main Press Centre or MPC) becomes unavailable for trade shows during May to Sept. 2020. This unavailability is extended by a year after the Games’ postponement. Tokyo Big Sight requires major renovations and expansion to install numerous cables, TV studios, offices, partitions, Internet connections, air conditioning, etc., to serve as Tokyo 2020’s media epicenter.
The Japan Exhibition Association complains that this will mean a huge financial loss (over ¥4 trillion) for trade show organizers, and 50,000 companies will not be able to show. Trade shows are prime opportunities for smaller companies to meet potential B2B customers and increase sales of their products or services. However, with the coronavirus, trade shows from spring 2020 had to be canceled anyway.
April 16, 2019: The Tokyo 2020 competition schedule is finalized.
April 18, 2019: Tokyo 2020 ticket website pre-opens for people to sign up and obtain a Tokyo 2020 ID required to apply for and purchase Tokyo 2020 tickets. About 8.12 million people in Japan eventually obtain a Tokyo 2020 ID.
Tatsumi International Swimming Center (Tatsumi Water Polo Centre)
A: Tatsumi International Swimming Center (aka Tatsumi Water Polo Centre).
B: JAPAN SWIM 2019 in April at Tatsumi. Japan national championships for competitive swimming.
C: JAPAN SWIM 2019 with Ohashi Yui (bottom lane) winning the women’s 400-meter individual medley on April 8.
D: Ohashi Yui is interviewed. (She later wins two gold medals at Tokyo 2020.)
E: FINA Artistic Swimming World Series, Tokyo in April 27–29, 2019. Japan’s national team is nicknamed “Mermaid Japan.” They win the Team Technical on April 27.
F: JAPAN SWIM 2019, water polo in Oct. 2019.
May 1, 2019: Japan’s new era named “Reiwa” (令和) begins with the ascension of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako taking over for his retired father, former Emperor Akihito. The year 2019 is now both Heisei 31 (until April 30, 2019) and Reiwa 1 (from May 1, 2019). Emperor Naruhito is to officially open the Tokyo 2020 Games.
May 9–28, 2019: Applications for the first ticket lottery for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (33 sports) are accepted online from Japan residents. About 5.12 million people submit 65.05 million applications for about 4 million tickets. People can apply for a maximum of 60 tickets, but can purchase only a maximum of 30 tickets. Half of all tickets are priced below ¥8,000 and the cheapest ticket at ¥2,500.
The most expensive tickets are for the Opening Ceremony at ¥300,000, Closing Ceremony at ¥220,000, men’s 100m final at ¥130,000, and men’s basketball final at ¥108,000. Tokyo 2020 ID is required to apply for and purchase tickets. Lottery results are announced on June 20, 2019.
The most popular tickets are finals sessions in popular events, sports previously won by a Japanese athlete, the most expensive and least expensive seats, and Friday night and Saturday sessions.
The most popular sports/events were Opening/Closing Ceremonies, swimming medal sessions, badminton, baseball medal sessions, basketball medal sessions, BMX freestyle cycling, gymnastics medal sessions, judo and karate medal sessions, shooting, skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing medal sessions, table tennis medal sessions, and tennis.
Least popular were diving non-medal sessions, water polo non-medal sessions, softball non-medal sessions, football non-medal sessions, handball non-medal sessions, hockey non-medal sessions, rugby non-medal sessions, and beach volleyball non-medal sessions.
International Stadium Yokohama (ISY)
May 22, 2019: IOC decides to create a special team to organize the boxing events for Tokyo 2020 since the international boxing federation still had not resolved its organizational problems.
May 24, 2019: During a press conference, Tokyo Governor Koike shows off a unique umbrella hat to be worn on the head under the sun to keep cool. Instead of wearing the umbrella hat herself, she has an employee wear it for the press. However, the umbrella hat never takes off among the public and becomes largely forgotten.
May 2019: Construction of Sea Forest Waterway (rowing and canoe sprint) in Koto Ward is completed.
Construction of Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre in Edogawa Ward is completed.
June 1, 2019: The uniform to be worn by torch relay runners is unveiled. Bearing a red sash design, the uniform’s material is partially made with recycled PET bottles.
June 16, 2019: Construction of Sea Forest Waterway (rowing and canoe) is completed.
A: Volleyball inside Musashino Forest Sports Plaza (Olympic Badminton and Pentathlon Fencing).
B: Japan’s Ishii Yuki tips the volleyball against Brazil on June 11, 2019.
C: Team Brasil’s Amanda Francisco serves.
D: Brazil’s Mara Leão and Japan’s Iwasaka Nana.
E: Japan’s Kurogo Ai (right) warms up. Star player on the national women’s volleyball team nicknamed “Hinotori Nippon” (火の鳥NIPPON). “Hinotori” means “Phoenix.” Normally plays for Toray Arrows.
June 15, 2019: Tokyo 2020 ticket sales by overseas Authorised Ticket Resellers (ATRs) begin.
June 20, 2019: The results of the first ticket lottery for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for Japan residents are announced. Vast majority of applicants win zero tickets while a minority win tickets and even multiple tickets. The lopsided ticket results are a major disaster, causing much frustration and despair among the 4.16 million empty-handed ticket applicants out of 5.12 million total applicants.
“The company who developed the algorithm for the lottery ticket selection should be fired,” say some people. It seemed Japan could not do anything right for the Olympics. To ease the complaints, a supplemental ticket lottery is to be held in August 2019 for the 4.16 million non-winners. However, it has little positive effect due to the low number (only hundreds of thousands) of additional tickets.
Successful lottery applicants have until July 2, 2019 to pay for their tickets either with a VISA credit card (official sponsor) or in cash at a convenience store in Japan.
A second ticket lottery for all events is to be held in autumn 2019.
🔴 June 2019: Tokyo 2020 test events start in earnest from June 2019 with the UIPM 2019 Pentathlon World Cup. They test the FOP (Field of Play), results system, time length, staff operations, etc. Some test events are organized by the International Sports Federations (IF) as part of their regular international competitions, while most test events are held by TOCOG under the moniker, “READY STEADY TOKYO.” Some test events are open to the public, while most are closed to the public. Those open to the public are either free or charge a low admission fee.
A: Musashino Forest Sports Plaza’s AGF Field used for equestrian, shooting, and running at 2019 Pentathlon World Cup.
B: Japan’s Tomonaga Natsumi on Meu Amore jumping.
C: The horse refuses and Italy’s Alessandra Frezza falls off the horse while clinging to the reins. (No injuries.)
D: Swimming portion of the Pentathlon held at Musashino Forest Sports Plaza’s indoor pool.
E: Bonus-round épée fencing match with Japan’s Yamanaka Shino (山中詩乃) on the right against Germany’s Annika Schleu who went on to win the UIPM 2019 Pentathlon World Cup Final bronze medal.
F: Men’s fencing match between Japan and Germany on June 27, 2019.
G: Men’s fencing competition inside Musashino Sports Plaza’s main arena on June 27, 2019.
E: UIPM 2019 Pentathlon World Cup Final laser run. Photos taken on June 28.
June 2019: Construction of the Oi Hockey Stadium is completed.
June 27, 2019: As he announced on March 21, 2019, Takeda Tsunekazu resigns as Japanese Olympic Committee President (since 2001) and resigns as an IOC member amid allegations of bribery to obtain votes from African IOC members for Tokyo to win the bid to host the 2020 Summer Games. He denies any wrongdoing.
On the same day, Takeda is replaced by 1984 judoka gold medalist Yamashita Yasuhiro as the new Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) President for a two-year term. On June 25, 2021, Yamashita is reelected for another term as JOC President.
July 1, 2019: To help ease crowding on public transportation during the Games, the Japanese government starts to urge companies to have employees telework at home.
July 2, 2019: Payment deadline for the first Olympic ticket lottery. TOCOG soon announces that about 3.22 million Olympic tickets were sold to Japan residents in this first ticket lottery. Another supplemental ticket lottery would be held in August 2019 to sell hundreds of thousands of tickets other than high-demand tickets like the Opening/Closing Ceremonies. A total of over 9 million tickets are expected to be available for the Olympics.
🍀July 3, 2019: The Tokyo 2020 volunteer steering committee (11 members) meets for the fourth time. One topic of discussion is what to write in the rejection emails to be sent to unsuccessful volunteer applicants. They want to pick their words very carefully (to ease the pain) and to also politely ask unsuccessful applicants for their continued support of Tokyo 2020 despite the rejection.
They also discuss what to cover in the general training session starting in October 2019. https://www.volasapo.tokyo/column/2020/840/
July 6–7, 2019: READY STEADY TOKYO weightlifting test event held at Tokyo International Forum. Closed to the public.
Olympic and Paralympic Torch Exhibition – TMG
July 10–August 25, 2019: One year before the torch relay is to start in Tokyo, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic torches are on public display at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building No. 1 on the 2nd floor. People can hold it and take photos with it. Lightweight aluminum weighing 1.2 kg. The Olympic torch is in “Sakura gold”, and the Paralympic torch in “Sakura pink.” Olympic and Paralympic flags used in the handover ceremonies are also displayed.
A: Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (TMG). South Tower on left and North Tower right. Governor’s office is above the round window. Tokyo 2020 emblems and mascots also decorate the building.
B: Olympic/Paralympic torches could be freely held by the public and pose with it. (Perhaps the first and last time we could do so.) Lightweight. Paralympic torch is pink gold.
C: Application form to be a torch bearer.
D: Torch’s cherry blossom design as seen from the top.
E: Nearby is a bench to pose with the mascots next to a countdown in days.
F: Also displayed are the Olympic and Paralympic flags used in the handover ceremonies.
July 12–18, 2019: READY STEADY TOKYO archery test event held at Yumenoshima Park Archery Field. Closed to the public.
July 18–21, 2019: READY STEADY TOKYO surfing test event held at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach in Chiba. Closed to the public.
Tokyo 2020 Volunteer Uniforms
🍀July 19, 2019: The Tokyo 2020 volunteer uniform design is unveiled, creating a lot of buzz especially among volunteers. The design is well received with blue polo shirts, gray long/short pants, and sneakers all made by ASICS. One perk of being a volunteer is that they get to keep the uniform as a memento of the Games. (The same uniform is also worn by paid staff and managers.)
July 21, 2019: READY STEADY TOKYO cycling road race test event held from Musashinomori Park to Fuji International Speedway.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics “1 Year to Go!”
In July 2019, many events are held to mark “1 Year to Go!”
Nihombashi City Dressing for “1 Year to Go!”
July 23 – August 25, 2019: To mark “1 Year to Go!”, Tokyo’s Nihonbashi business district has a few major buildings adorned with Olympics/Paralympics decorations for “Nihombashi City Dressing for TOKYO 2020“. Nihonbashi Bridge also had Olympic rings. Great time and place for a stroll in yukata.
Also, a special interactive exhibition called “Super Unusual 2020 Exhibition” (Futsujanai 2020 Exhibition) is held in Nihonbashi’s Coredo Muromachi Terrace. People enjoyed Olympic sports-related hands-on activities that anyone could try. This exhibition in Nihonbashi ended on August 4, 2019, but it moved to Tokyo Midtown Hibiya during August 8–25, 2019.
🔴 July 24, 2019: To mark “1 Year to Go!“, TOCOG unveils the design of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic medals. From over 400 design entries, the winning design by Kawanishi Jun’ichi was selected by a selection panel. The medals would be made with recycled metals.
July 24, 2019: Also to mark “1 Year to Go!“, a Tokyo 2020 Olympics/Paralympics two-sided Omega countdown clock at Tokyo Station’s Marunouchi side is unveiled by Tokyo Governor Koike and other officials. Omega is the official Olympics timekeeper (since 1932).
Omega Tokyo 2020 countdown clock much photographed at Tokyo Station. Double-sided clock with Olympic countdown on one side and Paralympic countdown on the back. Remaining days, hours, minutes, and seconds. The clock sculpture depicts the rising sun.
Other Countdown Clocks
D: Olympic and Paralympic countdown clock in Harumi Triton Square, home of TOCOG headquarters.
E: Olympic and Paralympic countdown clock outside Koto City Hall. Koto is home to 10 venues.
F: Olympic and Paralympic countdown clock inside Koto City Hall.
July 23–28, 2019: DAIHATSU YONEX Japan Open 2019 badminton test event held at Musashino Forest Sports Plaza (MFS) in Chofu, Tokyo. Olympic venue for badminton and modern pentathlon fencing.
Musashino Forest Sports Plaza was newly built for the Olympics as a permanent venue and sports center for western Tokyo (Tama district).
A: Japanese pair return a volley. They later commented that the sand (imported from Vietnam) was hot.
B: Small air-conditioned tent for spectators and volunteers to rest and cool down.
July 25, 2019: Taking advantage of host country rights to field its athletes, Japan Swimming Federation decides to field both men’s and women’s teams for water polo at Tokyo 2020. It will be the first time for Japan’s women’s water polo team to appear in the Olympics.
July 2019: The first phase to sell 4,145 condominiums in the Olympic Village (Harumi Flag) starts, and 940 units are sold. Prices for three-bedroom units are around ¥57 million, and high-end units are priced over ¥75 million. The second phase of condominium sales was to be in June 2020, but all further sales are later suspended due to the Games’ postponement.
August 8, 2019: Supplemental Olympic ticket lottery is held for the 4.16 million people who did not win any tickets in the first ticket lottery in May 2019. However, only about 1.4 million people apply for tickets, and the remaining 2.76 million did not bother or just gave up. Only 120,000 applicants win 350,000 Olympic tickets in this supplemental lottery. This was only about half of the 680,000 available tickets for 20 sports. Due to the lack of demand, about 330,000 low-demand tickets were left unsold in this “second chance” ticket lottery.
In the photo above, the finish line is in the forefront. The venue has a dam on both ends to block waves and reduce tidal water level changes. When there is no competition, the dams are open to allow water circulation with outside water. Water pumps can also refresh the water even when the dams are closed.
A: From the top of the grandstand, looking toward the finish line. Tokyo Gate Bridge in the background.
B: This test event was Sea Forest Waterway’s first international event. UK women’s team practicing with a coach. The rowing course is 2 km long. A few rowers got heat illness.
August 11, 2019: READY STEADY TOKYO marathon swimming test event held at Odaiba Marine Park.
August 11–21, 2019: 2019 IFSC Climbing World Championships, Olympic qualifier for sport climbing held at Esforta Arena, Hachioji.
A: Three different climbing walls on the stage with the speed climbing wall (15m high) on the left, bouldering wall in the middle (covered), and lead climbing wall on the right.
B: In the lobby, the English volunteer booth. Members of the Hachioji International Association.
August 12–14, 2019: READY STEADY TOKYO equestrian test events held at Equestrian Park and Sea Forest Cross-Country Course.
August 14–16, 2019: JOC Junior Olympic Cup golf test event held at Kasumigaseki Country Club.
August 15–18, 2019: ITU World Triathlon Olympic Qualification Event and ITU Paratriathlon World Cup test event held at Odaiba Marine Park.
August 15, 2019: The running portion of the 2019 Tokyo ITU World Olympic Qualification Paratriathlon test event in Odaiba is shortened from 10 km to 5 km due to the summer heat. One French woman athlete, Cassandre Beaugrand, suffered from heat exhaustion and is taken to the hospital.
August 17, 2019: The swimming portion of the 2019 Tokyo ITU World Olympic Qualification Paratriathlon test event in Odaiba is canceled due to foul-smelling water and high levels of E-coli bacteria. The competition thereby becomes a duathlon instead.
Odaiba is near a sewage treatment plant (Shibaura Water Reclamation Center near Shinagawa Station) whose effluent is discharged into the ocean that flows past Odaiba. This sewage treatment plant receives sewage and rainwater runoff from a large area of central Tokyo. When there is heavy rain, the plant does not have the capacity to adequately treat all the sewage and rainwater. So it is forced to discharge the excess rainwater without much treatment.
This results in a muddy-brown ribbon of water and some of it flows to Odaiba. So Odaiba’s water quality gets bad after heavy rains. When there is no rain, the sewage treatment plant is able to treat and cleanse all of the wastewater before discharging it into the ocean. Therefore, the water odor and E. coli bacteria level in Odaiba can vary widely depending on the weather. This problem has been known for many years, but no effective measures have been implemented.
To try and mitigate the effects of the effluent, three containment booms (floating fences) were placed in parallel near the sewage treatment plant’s effluent discharge outlet and clean sand from Kozushima island (south of Tokyo) was brought in to cover Odaiba’s ocean sludge. The E. coli bacteria level went down, but as of July 2020, Odaiba’s water quality still does not improved much.
August 17, 2019: The new Oi Hockey Stadium (OHS) (大井ホッケー競技場) opens in Oi (Shinagawa-ku) with Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko and other dignitaries attending the dedication ceremony. The stadium has two hockey fields with artificial turf and Olympic seating for 15,000. After the Olympics, it will also be used for soccer, futsal, and lacrosse, but the stadium is forecast to operate in the red (¥90 million per year).
August 17–21, 2019: READY STEADY TOKYO field hockey test event held at the newly-opened Oi Hockey Stadium. Closed to the public.
August 17–22, 2019: READY STEADY TOKYO sailing test event held at Enoshima Yacht Harbour. Closed to the public.
August 22–September 9, 2019: Applications for the first ticket lottery for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics are accepted online from Japan residents. Half of all tickets are priced below ¥8,000. Lottery results are announced on October 2, 2019.
August 24, 2019: “Tokyo 2020 Paralympics 1 Year to Go!” events are held in Tokyo such as in Sumida Ward Gymnasium in Kinshicho, Sumida Ward, Tokyo. Hands-on demonstrations of some Paralympics sports.
August 25, 2019: TOCOG unveils the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic medals sporting a Japanese folding fan design created by professional designer Matsumoto Sakiko. The medals would be made with recycled metals. https://www.paralympic.org/tokyo-2020/medals
August 25–September 1, 2019: World Judo Championships 2019 test event held at Nippon Budokan. Budokan means “Martial Arts Hall.” Built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics as the judo venue. It will repeats this role for Tokyo 2020.
August 29–September 1, 2019: Mitsubishi Electric World Challenge Cup wheelchair basketball test event held at Musashino Forest Sports Plaza (MFS). Tokyo 2020 venue for wheelchair basketball.
August 31, 2019: Deadline to apply to be an Olympic torch bearer. Very few slots are available to the public since most torch runners have been pre-selected. The chances of being selected are extremely slim unless you’re an outstanding, community-oriented person.
A: Karateka Watanabe Daisuke (right) kicks Iran’s Ali Asghar Asiabari at the Karate Premier League, Sept. 6, 2019.
B: Women karateka competing on Sept. 6, 2019.
September 11, 2019: Hashimoto Seiko (54) takes office as the new Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics Minister in Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s reshuffled Cabinet. Hashimoto is a former Olympian who represented Japan at seven Olympics from 1984 to 1996, the most ever for a Japanese. Four Winter Olympics (speed skater) and three Summer Olympics (cyclist). Won a bronze medal in 1992 for 1500m speed skating. She remains as the Olympic minister until February 18, 2021 when she is appointed TOCOG president after Mori Yoshiro resigned.
September 12–15, 2019: READY STEADY TOKYO canoe sprint test event held at Sea Forest Waterway. Closed to the public.
🍀September 12, 2019: Tokyo 2020 Games volunteer rejection emails start to be sent out to unsuccessful applicants.
As of August 2019, 80,421 applicants were selected, and about 120,000 did not make the cut. (204,680 people applied.) Of the 80,421 selected, the age ranged from teens to 80s.
About 61% were women. Among the 80,421, about 16% are in their 20s, 18% in their 40s, 22% in their 50s (the largest age group), and 14% in their 60s. They aimed for a good mix of different age groups, but over half are middle age and older.
Of the 200,000+ applicants, 36% were in their 20s, the largest age group. This group shrank to 16% in the final 80,421.
About 73,684 or 36% of the 204,680 applicants were non-Japanese. Out of the 73,684 foreign applicants, only 9,651 were selected. Only one in 7.6 non-Japanese were selected. Only 12% of the selected 80,421 are non-Japanese, translating to 9,651 from 120 countries, mainly Chinese, Korean, and other Asians. Also, only about 2,300 of the 9,651 non-Japanese are overseas residents. The rest are foreign residents of Japan. Only 2.8% of the selected 80,421 volunteers are overseas.
Japan Olympic Museum (日本オリンピックミュージアム)
🔴 September 14, 2019: The new Japan Olympic Museum (日本オリンピックミュージアム) opens across from the new Olympic Stadium. The building also houses the Japan Olympic Committee and many Japanese sports federation offices. Open 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, closed on Mondays. Near Sendagaya Station and Gaienmae Station (Ginza subway line) or Kokuritsu-kyogijo Station (Toei Oedo subway line). https://japan-olympicmuseum.jp/en/
September 15, 2019: “Marathon Grand Championship” (MGC) held in Tokyo as a marathon test event and Olympic qualifier for men and women. About 34 Japanese men and 15 Japanese women runners entered. They qualified for MGC only after finishing at the top at previous marathons.
Only the 1st and 2nd place men and women finishers in the MGC would qualify for the Olympics. Won by Nakamura Shogo for the men and Maeda Honami for the women.
About 1,800 volunteers (mostly Tokyo Marathon volunteers) are recruited for this event. Turns out to be a wildly popular and epic, historic race among the men. Large turnout by spectators, and live TV coverage by two TV stations. http://www.mgc42195.jp/
A: In Nihonbashi, the asphalt is gray because it has been coated with a heat-reduction layer for Tokyo 2020. Feels cooler to the touch.
B: Women’s race won by Maeda Honami (in pink) who took the lead early on. Behind her in red is Suzuki Ayuko who came in 2nd. Photo taken at Kuramae.
🍀September 17, 2019: Successful Games volunteer applicants happily started receiving email notifications to attend the general training session. In effect, a confirmation of their acceptance as Tokyo 2020 Games volunteers.
It basically said, “Thank you for attending the Orientation/Interview. More details about the next step’s general training will be sent from late September. People overseas can attend the general training in Tokyo within the month before the Games. You attend only one general training session lasting 3 hours.”
Volunteer online training (e-learning) and general training in Tokyo are scheduled for October 2019 to February 2020 for Japan residents and June–July 2020 for non-residents.
*At this point, it is still too early for volunteers to make any solid travel plans (flights and accommodations) since roles and venue assignments are still unknown.
September 20–Nov 2, 2019: 2019 Rugby World Cup is held at 12 venues in Japan. The many volunteers serve as a good example for Tokyo 2020. Photos: https://photoguide.jp/pix/thumbnails.php?album=1056
Thankfully, COVID-19 did not happen before or during the highly successful 2019 Rugby World Cup. It gave Japan a good idea of what the Olympics would be like.
September 26–27, 2019: READY STEADY TOKYO power lifting test event held at Tokyo International Forum. Closed to the public.
September 27, 2019: TOCOG announces 530,000 people applied to be one of the 10,000 Olympic torch relay runners. That is more than twice the number of volunteer applicants. Many of the torch bearers were already pre-selected for celebrities, former Olympians, etc. Politicians were not allowed.
September 27–28, 2019: READY STEADY TOKYO taekwondo test event held at Makuhari Messe Hall A. Closed to the public.
Goalball is a silent sport since the visually impaired players must hear the bells inside the moving ball to detect it. Only three players on each team. Many volunteers around the arena held up a “Quiet Please” sign whenever play was to begin. Photos show women’s USA (red) vs. Japan (white) on Sept. 28, 2019.
🍀Late September 2019: Games volunteers start to make reservations to attend the general training session in Japan. General training sessions (3 hours long) in Tokyo are to be held from October 2019 to February 2020. Volunteers are required to attend one of the sessions. Only a few general training sessions are to be held in English in Tokyo: Two English sessions on November 16 and two English sessions on January 17 and 19. Online training (e-learning) are also required for everyone.
October 2, 2019: The results of the first ticket lottery for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics for Japan residents are announced. Applicants have until October 15 to pay for the tickets.
🍀 “Field Cast” Games Volunteer General Training
🍀October 4, 2019 – February 2020: General training sessions are held for Tokyo 2020 Games volunteers and City volunteers in separate lecture halls (maximum capacity 300) at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center in Tokyo. In Japan, general training is held at 13 venues in 11 prefectures until February 2020. Three hours long with a 15-min. break halfway.
Several staff people (including a wheelchair person) talk about various topics, basic rules, show videos and slides, give trivia quizzes, and hold group activity. Some topics come from a few pages in the Field Cast Handbook. Volunteer manual (182 pages), notebook, and tote bag are also distributed to everyone.
Games volunteers are told that from March 2020, they would receive email notifications for role assignments. Volunteers can then accept or reject it. General training news video: https://youtu.be/myZNWNOQQsg
A: Central Building at National Olympics Memorial Youth Center near Sangubashi Station.
B: Lecture hall in Central Building for Field Cast training. Blue handbooks and tote bags on tables.
October 3–5, 2019: READY STEADY TOKYO wrestling test event held at Makuhari Messe Hall A. Closed to the public.
October 5–6, 2019: The 52nd Japan Women’s Softball League game held at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium. (「第52回日本女子ソフトボールリーグ」1部第8節福島大会)
October 6, 2019: READY STEADY TOKYO mountain bike cycling test event held at Izu MTB Course. Closed to the public.
2019 Rugby World Cup – Kumagaya
The 2019 Rugby World Cup was hosted in Japan from September 20 to November 2, 2019 in 12 venues all across the country. These photos show the Argentina vs. USA sold-out match on Oct. 9, 2019 at Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture.
A: Kumagaya Rugby Stadium in Saitama was packed for the Argentina vs. USA rugby game on Oct. 9, 2019. This side of the stadium was filled with Japanese school children cheering loudly throughout the game.
B: The school kids were great cheer leaders. They even learned the national anthems of both teams.
C: Argentina fans high-fiving local kids in the good old days before Covid hit.
D: USA fans at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium.
E: Argentina vs. USA.
F: Beer girls (selling beer) at sports stadiums were a major fixture before Covid hit.
G: After the game, RWC volunteers wave goodbye to spectators. Something also done at Tokyo 2020.
H: Live site in Kumagaya. Japan’s massive enthusiasm and crowds for RWC left no doubt about how popular Tokyo 2020 would be a year later.
I: Some shuttle buses between the stadium and train station promoted Tokyo 2020 since Saitama had a few venues.
Rugby World Cup 2019 Fan Zone in Tokyo (Tokyo Sports Square in Yurakucho) is very crowded as a live site. The site included beer and merchandise.
October 10, 2019: Osaka Naomi expresses her wish to compete in the Tokyo Olympics as a Japanese athlete and reveals that she has taken steps to choose Japanese citizenship. Apparently, she had dual citizenship (USA and Japan).
October 12–13, 2019: READY STEADY TOKYO BMX racing cycling test event held at Ariake Urban Sports Park. Closed to the public.
October 16, 2019: Apparently without advance consultation with TMG (only TOCOG was informed in advance), the IOC announces they want to relocate the marathon and race walking events to Sapporo due to heat concerns. The decision is apparently influenced by the sweltering conditions in Doha, Qatar where the IAAF World Outdoor Track and Field Championships were held a few weeks earlier. Many women marathoners dropped out due to the heat.
A few days later, Tokyo Governor Koike states that TMG will not bear the expenses for holding the events in Sapporo. Later on November 8, TOCOG announces that TOCOG and IOC would bear the expenses of holding the marathon and race walk in Sapporo.
Many volunteers in Tokyo think that they can happily be assigned to Sapporo. However, Sapporo already has a large pool of willing people and the city later recruits additional volunteers from its own population.
October 16-20, 2019: World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge (WWRC Tokyo 2019) held at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium (TGY). (Not a test event, but Japan’s national team played.)
A: Wheelchair rugby at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
B: Japan with the ball against Australia. (Photos taken on Oct. 19.)
🍀October 24, 2019: Games volunteers in Japan start to receive email for online e-learning lessons. The e-learning website starts with three short introductory videos. The English videos are in Japanese with English subtitles.
The PDF Handbook in both English and Japanese has “Do not Copy” stamped all over it, making it illegible without the proper software to read it.
October 24–November 4, 2019: The 46th Tokyo Motor Show is held at Tokyo Big Sight (Aomi site). Toyota shows the “e-Palette” electric vehicle to be used at Tokyo 2020 to shuttle athletes within the Olympic Village. https://www.tokyo-motorshow.com/en/gallery/manufactures/toyota.html#2019
October 25, 2019: After two years of construction, the new Ariake Gymnastics Centre is completed.
October 25–27, 2019: READY STEADY TOKYO canoe slalom test event held at Canoe Slalom Centre. Closed to the public.
🍀October 28 – January 31, 2020: Japanese temp agency Pasona (Olympic sponsor) posts job ads to recruit 2,000 Japan residents for full-time paid positions at the Games lasting from one to eight months between February and September 2020. The minimum payment of ¥1,600/hour is significantly higher than Tokyo’s minimum hourly wage. Positions offered are almost the same as Games volunteer roles. They are to receive the same uniform as Games volunteers.
It gives another chance to rejected volunteer applicants to work at Tokyo 2020. Eventually, more temp agencies and event companies (unofficial) start to offer various paid jobs for Tokyo 2020. https://job.pasona2020.jp/apply/
October 29–31, 2019: READY STEADY TOKYO boxing test event held at Kokugikan Arena. Closed to the public.
October 30, 2019: The IOC Coordination Commission states that the relocation of the marathon and race walk to Sapporo has already been decided. Tokyo Governor Koike expresses her displeasure, stating that the IOC is insensitive to the feelings of the local people who have been busy preparing for the marathon and race walk in Tokyo.
November 1, 2019: Following a meeting between the four organizers, the relocation of the marathon and race walk to Sapporo is made official. TMG and the Japanese public learn the hard way that the IOC has the sole authority to decide where to hold competitions.
November 6–10, 2019: ZEN-NOH 2019 ITTF Team World Cup, Tokyo test event at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium (TGY)
A: Built in 1990, Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium is the Olympic and Paralympic venue for table tennis.
B: “ZEN-NOH 2019 ITTF Team World Cup, Tokyo” table tennis test event. Austria vs. Japan.
November 9–10, 2019: Koto Sports Caravan to Tokyo 2020 (KOTOスポーツキャラバン to 東京2020) local event held at Lalaport Toyosu shopping mall. Sponsored by Koto City in Tokyo, Koto Sports Caravan offered free, hands-on Olympic sports activities for kids such as BMX cycling and skateboarding. The caravan traveled to multiple locations in Koto City, usually shopping malls, to help spread local awareness of Olympic sports to be held in Koto with ten Tokyo 2020 venues.
A: BMX cycling for kids.
B: BMX lesson for kids.
C: BMX demonstration by pros.
November 13–17, 2019: HULIC DAIHATSU Japan Para-Badminton International 2019 test event held at Yoyogi National Stadium (YNS).
A: Yoyogi National Stadium for handball and Para badminton. Iconic venue designed by Tange Kenzo for swimming and diving at the Tokyo 1964 Olympics.
B: Para-badminton test event match.
November 13–26, 2019: Applications for the second and final ticket lottery for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are accepted online from Japan residents. Lottery results to be announced on December 18, 2019.
November 21–24, 2019: Japan Cup 2019 Shibuya (Women) and 71st Japan Men’s Handball Championship test events held at Yoyogi National Stadium. For the women, France, Brazil, Slovenia, and Japan participated. Results here.
November 28–December 1, 2019: 34th FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships test event becomes the first event to be held at the new Ariake Gymnastics Centre.
November 30, 2019: After three years, the construction of the new Japan National Stadium (Olympic Stadium) is completed slightly under budget at ¥152.9 billion. The eight-month delay due to the redesign made it too late for the Japan-hosted 2019 World Cup Rugby.
December 2019: Construction of the Olympic Village (OLV) in Harumi is completed after three years. It extends 650 meters long and 350 meters wide, occupying the best one-third of the Harumi area (island). For the Olympics, 21 buildings (14 to 18 floors each) will provide 3,850 apartment units with 18,000 beds for Olympic athletes and staff and 8,000 beds for Paralympic athletes and staff. The apartments will come in 300 configurations including one-bedroom units and four-bedroom units.
December 6, 2019: TOGOC announces that it will be hiring about 10,000 staff and performers for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Recruiting from mid-December 2019 to end of January 2020. They want the following people to work for free:
・740 professional performers.
・380 college students to be performers.
・960 supporting staff (college students from 810 schools) for the performers.
・1,900 to 4,000 staff to guide athletes during the Olympic/Paralympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
・1,500 to 3,000 ceremony operation support staff, mainly college students.
December 12, 2019: The decision is made to keep the Paralympic marathon in Tokyo. IPC states that the summer heat should not be a problem.
Dec. 13–15, 2019: JAL Presents H.I.H. Prince Takamado Trophy Fencing World Cup 2019 test event held at Makuhari Messe Hall B (MMB).
A: Way to Makuhari Messe
B: Makuhari Messe Hall B, Olympic venue for fencing, Paralympic taekwondo, and wheelchair fencing.
C: Fencing World Cup 2019 test event inside Hall B on Dec. 15, 2019.
D: Background banner says “Ganbare Nippon!!” (Do it, Japan!!)
December 18, 2019: The results of the second and final Olympic ticket lottery held for Japan residents in November are announced. TOCOG announces that 2.23 million people applied for 1 million available tickets in 32 sports. Winners have until January 10, 2020 to pay for their tickets.
Meanwhile, high-priced Olympic tour packages offered by Japanese travel agencies which include hard-to-get tickets are sold out. Kinki-Nippon Tourist sold out its 19-day package costing ¥2.02 million. The package includes tickets for the Opening Ceremony plus 40 venues and accommodations.
JTB’s package which includes tickets to the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and costing a whopping ¥4.5 million is also sold out. Massive demand for tickets in Japan and around the world is very evident in 2019. Tokyo 2020 was going to be massively popular.
For unsold tickets, additional ticket sales are planned to be conducted at ticket box offices in Tokyo (including a postcard lottery to alleviate long lines) and an official ticket resale website from spring 2020. Official sponsors would also give away tickets for promotional purposes. (All additional ticket sales in Japan are eventually canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, while ATRs overseas continue selling tickets even during the pandemic.)
December 2019: As of December 2019, money from domestic Tokyo 2020 sponsors total ¥348 billion (USD3.3 billion) which is 55% of TOCOG’s projected income of ¥630 billion. This is the most ever and almost four times more than what Rio’s OCOG received. Also much more than a sold-out ticket revenue of almost ¥90 billion.
Domestic sponsors are in three categories based on the amount of their sponsorship. It is estimated that top tier Gold Partners (ASICS, Canon, meiji, etc.) are paying ¥15 billion each, Official Partners (JTB, ANA, JAL, Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan Post, etc.) a few billion yen each, and Official Supporters (Google, Pasona, Yahoo Japan, etc.) around ¥1 billion each.
December 2019: As of December 2019, the original Tokyo 2020 budget revised for the fourth time had TMG bearing ¥600 billion (600,000,000,000), TOCOG also bearing ¥600 billion, and the Japanese government bearing ¥150 billion for a total of ¥1.35 trillion.
Most of the money spent by TMG and Japanese government were for building Olympic venues. (The postponement and coronavirus measures in 2020 later adds to the cost.)
Over 10 percent of TMG’s 10,000 employees are working for Tokyo 2020 (460 at the TMG in Shinjuku and 850 at TOCOG). TOCOG staff has around 4,000 (expands to 7,000 during the Games).
December 2019: Colorful manhole covers with Tokyo 2020 emblems in five traditional colors are installed in places like Ueno Park, Hibiya Park, and Yume-no-Ohashi Bridge (location of cauldron). They are to be in place until the end of the Games.
New Olympic Stadium Opening Event, “Hello, Our Stadium”
🔴 December 21, 2019: The new Olympic Stadium‘s opening event named, “Hello, Our Stadium” is held at 6:30 pm. The event features Usain Bolt, top Japanese sprinters, Kodo taiko drummers, Tohoku Region festivals, and pop groups Arashi and Yuzu for the entertainment program.
Three ticket categories are sold: ￥8,640 (Category 1), ￥6,480 (Category 2), and ￥5,400 (Category 3). All reserved seating. The seats come with souvenir gifts. The more expensive the seat, the better the gift. Tickets sold only to Japan residents.
A: The event includes Tohoku Festivals parading around, especially Nebuta Matsuri from Aomori.
B:Akita Kanto Matsuri with men balancing tall paper lantern poles looking like rice plants.
C: Light effects during the entertainment program.
D: During the relay race, Cambridge Aska passes the round baton to Takakuwa Saki. ケンブリッジ 飛鳥〜髙桑早生
E:Usain Bolt runs to his position on the track. It was a cold evening so the runners wore overcoats before the race.
F: The entertainment climaxed with singing by Yuzu. More photos of “Hello, Our Stadium” here.