Tokyo 2020 Chronology (Page 4/5): 2021

In 2021, the pandemic continues to cause uncertainty, anxiety, and divisiveness. Amid calls for a cancelation and all the negativity in the media, Tokyo 2020 bows to pressure and regretfully decides to ban overseas spectators and even local spectators. Meanwhile, spectators are allowed at pro baseball and soccer games and sumo. In the end, the Games are held safely and successfully with majority public support buoyed by Japan’s record haul of medals.

Updated: July 23, 2022
Compiled and written by Philbert Ono (former TOCOG employee). Preserving Tokyo 2020 history and memories.

Go to:
Jan. 2021 | Feb. 2021 | Mar. 2021 | Apr. 2021 | May 2021 | June 2021

July 2021 | Aug. 2021 | Sept. 2021 | Oct. 2021 | Nov. 2021 | Dec. 2021 | Venue Photos

Other years:
2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021 | 2022

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.
*Special thanks to Games volunteer and staff friends who contributed photos.
*To correct any errors in this chronology, contact us.


Olympic rings lit up in white in Odaiba with Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower
Flanked by yakata-bune dinner tour boats, Olympic rings lit up in white in Odaiba with Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower in the background.

Early January 2021: Soon after New Year’s, the number of Covid cases reach record levels in Tokyo (2,000+ cases/day). News media and social media in and outside Japan continue to bash Tokyo 2020 and spread negativity.

January 7, 2021: Second State of Emergency consequently starts in Tokyo and neighboring prefectures. Ends on March 22, 2021.

January 13, 2021: Due to the spread of the coronavirus variant overseas, Japan bans even business travelers hitherto permitted to travel from 11 countries (China, Korea, etc.) and regions. This in effect bans all foreigners from entering Japan.

January 19, 2021: Three people in Shizuoka Prefecture become the first in Japan who had never traveled overseas to be found infected with the coronavirus variant from the UK. The other 40+ cases of the coronavirus variant in Japan were all people who had been overseas.

January 21, 2021: Citing an unnamed senior member of Japan’s ruling coalition, The Times in the UK reports that the Japanese government has “privately concluded that the Tokyo Olympics will have to be cancelled because of the coronavirus.” This is flatly denied by the IOC, Japanese government, TOCOG, and TMG.

🍀Late January 2021: Volunteers start to receive the “Shift schedule survey” to indicate which days they are unavailable for volunteer duty.


🔴 February 3–March 16, 2021: IOC and TOCOG issue the first “playbooks” for international sports federations, athletes, and the media. The downloadable playbooks (PDFs) provide basic, common-sense guidelines and rules for Covid. They are updated in the coming months.

🔴 February 3, 2021: Tokyo 2020 announces that athletes and officials will not be required to be vaccinated for Covid-19 to take part in Tokyo 2020.

February 3, 2021: TOCOG President Mori Yoshiro makes sexist remarks about women in Olympic committees “talking too much, making meetings longer.” They become a media firestorm.

February 4, 2021: TOCOG President Mori Yoshiro goes before the press and reads a standard statement of apology for his sexist remarks the day before. No intention of resigning. Defiant attitude toward questions from the press. The IOC says Mori’s apology makes it “Case closed” even though the Japanese media and public want Mori to resign. Later on its website on Feb. 9, the IOC backtracks and strongly condemns Mori’s sexist remarks as going against the Olympic pledge.

🍀February 7, 2021: Volunteers receive an apology email from TOCOG for Mori Yoshiro’s sexist remarks. TMG receives over 500 phone calls complaining about Mori.

🍀February 8, 2021: It is reported that 390 Games volunteers dropped out due to Mori Yoshiro’s sexist remarks. The number increases to 1,000 by Feb. 23, 2021.

🍀February 12, 2021: TOCOG president Mori Yoshiro apologizes again and resigns for his sexist remarks about women. His preference for sports administrator Kawabuchi Saburo (84) to replace him is also quickly shot down by people not wanting to see another elderly man at the helm.

Mori later mentions that his wife, daughter, and granddaughter also scolded him.

February 14, 2021: Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine becomes the first in Japan to be approved for use.

February 17, 2021: COVID-19 vaccinations in Japan finally start with 40,000 healthcare workers inoculated with Pfizer’s vaccine.

February 17, 2021: Shimane Prefectural Governor Maruyama Tatsuya states that the Games should not be held while the pandemic is uncontrollable and he does not want to hold the torch relay in Shimane scheduled for May 2021. He would make a final decision in about a month. (Torch relay in Shimane is held as scheduled.)

🔴 February 18, 2021: To replace Mori Yoshiro, Hashimoto Seiko resigns her post as Minister of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games to be appointed as the new TOCOG President.

🔴 February 18, 2021: To replace Hashimoto Seiko, Marukawa Tamayo is appointed Minister of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games for her second time.

February 2021: Covid vaccinations finally start in Japan with healthcare workers. Followed by seniors (65+) and people with underlying conditions. Vaccinations to be free in Japan.

MARCH 2021

March 3, 2021: As a result of Mori’s sexist remarks, TOCOG announces 12 women joining its executive board to increase the percentage of women on the board from 20 percent to 42 percent. They including Sydney 2000 Olympic marathon gold medalist Takahashi Naoko.

March 10, 2021: Thomas Bach is reelected as IOC president for a final four-year term.

March 11, 2021: Thomas Bach states that the COVID-19 vaccine from China would be made available to Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 athletes.

TOCOG President Hashimoto Seiko states the next day that vaccination would not be required for athletes at Tokyo 2020. Olympic Minister Marukawa states any Chinese vaccine would first have to be approved in Japan, so it currently cannot target Japanese athletes.

March 18, 2021: Sasaki Hiroshi, Olympics creative director for the Tokyo Olympics Opening and Closing Ceremonies, resigns after Japanese weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun reported the day before that he had a brainstorming idea in 2020 to have comedian Watanabe Naomi appear at the Opening Ceremony dressed as a pig, called “Olympig.” His brainstorming proposal, made in a online, private chat group with his work colleagues, was quickly rejected, but apparently later leaked to the magazine.

🔴 March 20, 2021: Following a meeting between TOCOG, IOC, IPC, TMG, and the Japanese government (five organizers), Japan sadly decides to disallow overseas spectators from Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics to minimize the Covid risk especially with the unpredictable coronavirus variants. This still leaves the door open to domestic spectators.

The IOC had stated that it would agree with whatever Japan decides, while Sebastian Coe (President of World Athletics) had urged organizers not to rush their decision on overseas fans.

🍀 The news cause much concern among Games volunteers overseas regarding whether they would be allowed to enter Japan.

🔴 Ticket refunds from authorized ticket resellers (ATRs) overseas soon become a major headache and uproar especially when CoSport sends an email on March 27, 2021 stating that the 20 percent handling fees would not be refunded to US customers since it was already spent by the company. About 600,000 Olympic tickets and 30,000 Paralympic tickets had been sold to overseas customers.

NHK TV reports that TOCOG decided during a board meeting not to allow most of the 2,300 overseas volunteers into Japan
NHK TV reports that TOCOG decided not to allow most of the 2,300 overseas volunteers into Japan.

🍀March 22, 2021: Following a board meeting, TOCOG regretfully announces that they have decided to disallow non-Japanese, overseas Games volunteers from entering Japan, forcing them to withdraw as volunteers. However, only 500 overseas volunteers with special skills, experience, or qualifications would be allowed entry. They would be notified directly. (They included some equestrian and fencing volunteers.) Overseas volunteers who are Japanese nationals would still be allowed in.

Affected overseas volunteers receive no official advance notice about this decision. They first hear about it on the news like everyone else. Great disappointment and sadness among volunteers overseas and in Japan.

🍀It was reported for the first time that out of the 9,000+ volunteers who are foreign nationals, only 2,300 are overseas and the rest are Japan residents. Only 2.8 percent of the 80,000 volunteers are overseas residents.

Spring 2021: Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay

🔴 March 25–July 23, 2021: Delayed by a year, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay begins at the J-Village soccer training center in Fukushima Prefecture. The torch relay slogan is “Hope Lights Our Way.” With a total of 10,515 torch bearers, the torch relay is to proceed to all 47 prefectures. However, in some cities, the torch relay is taken off public roads and substituted with a lighting ceremony to prevent crowds.

With the national mood still muted, a few celebrity torch bearers drop out. To prevent crowding, people are discouraged to see the torch relay. If it gets too crowded, the relay may skip that leg. However, this is never been implemented.
There is staff (or volunteers) telling people to disperse if the roadside gets too crowded.

The torch relay was originally designed to attract crowds. So the torch route is mostly on the busiest roads of the city.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay. Celebration on stage at the end of the day.

A: At the start of the relay leg, the first runner’s torch is lit from the mobile lantern flame with a small wand.
B: The torch bearer is escorted by running police in navy blue. The torch passes by for only 2 seconds.
C: While standing by, a runner poses for onlookers as the Coca-Cola truck approaches.
D: Passing the flame to the next torchbearer (right).
E: Running through a castle. Each torch runner runs only 200 meters or so. The staff always plead to the crowd, “Don’t chase the torch runner.” Only the family of the runners were allowed to chase the runner in parallel. They wore a white bib.
F: Torch relay has many eye-catching vehicles. Sponsor trucks are entertaining.
G: Lots of freebies for onlookers. Coca-Cola gave out their sports drink (inset) having a torch design.
H: NTT gave out free folding fans (inset).

*Most common comment by torch runners: “Due to the pandemic, I had some anxiety and wondered if I should do it or not. But after running with the torch, I felt really happy I did it!! Extremely rare experience and unforgettable memories!!”

Tokyo 2020 torch relay pins
Tokyo 2020 torch relay pins sold by major Japanese post offices.

Late March 2021 – April 2021: With numerous online want ads, Japanese event companies recruit part-timers and temp workers for Tokyo 2020. Job ads do not mention “Olympics/Paralympics” by name, but they strongly hint that it is for the Olympics: “Huge international sporting event in Tokyo this summer,” “rare and memorable opportunity,” and “once in a lifetime chance!” The work dates coincide with the Games. No experience necessary and simple training to be provided.

Available jobs include:
・Venue/event/concert staff (crowd control, guide spectators to their seats, check staff accreditation to enter the venue, information desk, take people’s temperature, guide disabled people to transportation, venue setup and cleanup).
・VIP pavilion staff for foreign guests (receptionist, information desk, cloak room, guide to tables, serve drinks, translator/interpreter, English required; minimum TOEIC score 700).
・Ticket office staff at Olympic venues (which means there may be plans to sell tickets during the Games). Venues include the Olympic Stadium, Olympic Village, and Baji Koen (Equestrian Park).
・Warehouse/inventory staff (inspect, sort, and ship out goods). Goods include apparel, stationery, masks, hand sanitizer, and packaged snacks.

The jobs pay ¥1,200 to ¥1,800/hour, higher than minimum wage (¥1,000/hour in Tokyo). Commuting expenses and lunch/dinner usually included. Some of the jobs (like those at Olympic venues) will even provide a “nice uniform” that you can keep afterward.

Olympic rings and cherry blossoms at Odaiba

APRIL 2021

Ikee Rikako prayer tablet
At Katori Shrine (God of Victory) in Koto-ku, Ikee Rikako prayer tablet praying for her to get well. Her prayers some true in time for Tokyo 2020.

April 4, 2021: By winning the 100-meter butterfly at Japan’s national swimming championship, Japanese swimmer Ikee Rikako qualifies for the Tokyo Olympics medley relay. The Japanese public is taken by her astounding comeback following her battle with leukemia starting in February 2019. Much welcomed positive news.

Later on May 7, 2021, Ikee tweets that she received messages and comments on Twitter urging her to drop out or urge the organizer to cancel the Olympics. While acknowledging the opposition to the Games, she states that that athletes will accept whatever decision is made and do their best if the Games are held.

April 4, 2021: Wheelchair rugby test event that was postponed is held at Yoyogi National Stadium. Closed to the public.

Early April 2021: FINA test events and Olympic qualifiers for diving scheduled for April 18-23 and artistic swimming on May 1-4 are canceled. Water polo test event on April 10–11 is also canceled because overseas officials are unable to enter Japan due to COVID-19 countermeasures. The Olympic marathon swimming qualifier in Fukuoka in late May is also canceled.

Test events in 2021 are later rescheduled. Aquatics test events are rescheduled for May and June, volleyball on May 1st–2nd at Ariake Arena, artistic swimming on May 1st–4th, marathon in Sapporo on May 5, and athletics at the Olympic Stadium on May 9, 2021. All test events are closed to the public.

April 6, 2021: North Korea announces that it will not participate in the Tokyo Olympics to protect its athletes from the pandemic. As punishment, the IOC later in September 2021 bans North Korea from participating in Beijing 2022.

April 6, 2021: Shimane Prefecture Governor Maruyama who initially wanted to cancel the torch relay, decides to hold it.

April 13–14, 2021: Seeing a record number of cases (1,000+/day), Osaka Prefecture decides to take the torch relay off public roads and hold it at Expo ’70 Commemorative Park closed to the public. Only the torch runners’ family members (up to 4 people each) are allowed in. All the runners are still happy to run with the torch.

🍀April 13, 2021: Three months before the Games, some Field Cast volunteers remain skeptical, anxious, or worried over the Games with regard to Covid amid negative media coverage.

100 Days to Go!" display at a Tokyo 2020 official shop.
“100 Days to Go!” display at a Tokyo 2020 official shop.

April 14, 2021: To mark “100 Days to Go!” on this day, a set of large Olympic rings are unveiled on Mt. Takao in western Tokyo, new pair of official mascot sculptures at TMG in Shinjuku is unveiled by Tokyo Governor Koike, and new outdoor banners at a few venues like Kashima (soccer) are put up.

Organizers continue to insist that they would hold a “safe and secure” Games.

Meanwhile, Tokyo Medical Association chairman Ozaki Haruo warns against holding the Olympics amid the COVID-19 spike: “If infections spread further, it would be difficult to hold the Olympics in its regular form with athletes from various countries, even if there are no spectators,” as he tells Japanese sports paper Sports Hochi.

🔴 April 15, 2021: Nikai Toshihiro, the powerful secretary-general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and kingmaker behind Suga Yoshihide becoming prime minister, says canceling the Tokyo Olympics could be an option if the pandemic spreads further. He later tries to backtrack, but his remarks makes major headlines in Japan and around the world, causing undue alarm.

At a press conference soon afterward, TOCOG President Hashimoto flatly denies any thoughts of cancellation.

At this point, the only question remaining was whether to allow spectators or not.

🍀April 22, 2021: Volunteer leader training starts online. First day with two sessions has 310 volunteer leaders total online. More sessions to follow. There are 6,000 volunteer leaders.

April 22, 2021: Third state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hokkaido, and several other prefectures takes effect until early May, but extended to June 20, 2021.

April 22, 2021: Rugby operational test event held at Tokyo Stadium. Closed to the public.

April 24–25, 2021: READY STEADY TOKYO swimming test event held at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Closed to the public. Tokyo 2020 test events are restarted with no spectators.

April 25, 2021: READY STEADY TOKYO track cycling test event held at Izu Velodrome. Closed to the public.

April 26, 2021: READY STEADY TOKYO Paralympic swimming test event held at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Closed to the public.

April 28, 2021: The five organizers agree to decide on the number of allowable spectators in June depending on the spread of the coronavirus variant.

April 28–May 10, 2021: Second version of playbooks (PDF files) specifying Covid countermeasures and rules are issued.

April 2021: Torch relay continues not exactly as planned, but it attracts crowds most everywhere, especially at the starting and ending ceremonies. More municipalities decide to take it off public roads.

Many Tokyo 2020 official stores open or reopen in and outside Tokyo.

🔴 Although many people are not convinced, at this point, a super spreader seemed unlikely because:
・Everyone from overseas would have to be tested for Covid before and after arrival in Tokyo. Periodic or daily testing would also be required.
・No overseas spectators would be allowed into Japan. Most overseas volunteers would also be kept out.
・Any infections would likely be detected and isolated early.
・Most everyone in Japan would wear a mask.
・All the basic safety measures would be in place.
・Vaccinations would keep progressing.
・The Japanese government and TOCOG would do all they can to minimize the risk. They know the virus is out there, they know how it spreads, and they know how to reduce the risk of infection.

Tokyo 2020 kurenai (red) banner at Kinshicho Station, Sumida City, Tokyo.
Tokyo 2020 kurenai (red) banner at Kinshicho Station, Sumida City, Tokyo.

🔴 Ample evidence of widespread Japanese public support for Tokyo 2020:
・In July 2020, pro-Olympics Tokyo Governor Koike won reelection by a landslide against rivals opposing the Games. She captures 3,661,371 votes or 60 percent of the vote. Her closest rival, Utsunomiya Kenji (who later started an online petition to cancel the Games), won only 844,151 votes (13.8 percent of the vote).
・Only a small percentage of ticket holders in Japan have requested refunds.
・Torch relay still sees crowds most everywhere. Very few of the 10,000+ torch bearers have withdrawn (mostly celebrities who probably do not want to attract crowds).
・Among the 80,000 Games volunteers, only a minority have withdrawn. (Reported to be 1,000 so far, and later revealed to be 10,000, still a small minority.)
・Everyone in Japan is happy to see swimmer Ikee Rikako qualify for Tokyo.
・Even the most negative public opinion polls have shown only a minority (30–35 percent) who think the Games should be canceled. Another 30 percent or so thinks the Games should be postponed again. Public opinion polls keep providing the impossible “Postpone again” choice to respondents to inflate negative responses.

🔴 Another postponement is simply not possible for the following reasons given by TOCOG:

  1. There is no suitable year to postpone it to (2022 is Beijing, and 2023 is only one year before Paris).
  2. After qualifying for the year 2020, athletes cannot maintain their peak performance for that long.
  3. The Olympic Village in Harumi cannot be put on hold any longer. Additional construction and renovations need to proceed and condo owners want to move in.

MAY 2021

🍀Early May 2021: Games volunteers receive their volunteer shift schedule and start making reservations to pick up their uniform and accreditation card by late June. People who live in Japan far from pickup locations are disappointed that the uniform will not be shipped to them. Problem is later resolved when the pickup deadline is extended to August to enable volunteers to pickup their uniforms after arriving in Tokyo for the Games.

May 1, 2021: In Kagoshima Prefecture, six staff members who helped with the torch relay in April are found to be infected with the coronavirus.

May 1–2, 2021: Volleyball Japan International Friendship Games – Tokyo Challenge 2021 test event held at Ariake Arena. Closed to the public.

May 2, 2021: Negativity continues to spread in the mass media and social media due to the lingering uncertainty and lack of information. TOCOG never does a good job at communicating pertinent and convincing information to the public and media. That the Games can be held safely. Many people only imagine the worst case scenario based on speculation and dark imagination.

By late May, false rumors about the imminent cancelation of Tokyo 2020 spreads on social media with the assumption that late May would be the last chance to cancel the Games.

FINA Diving World Cup 2021 at Tokyo Aquatics Centre in early May 2021
FINA Diving World Cup 2021 at Tokyo Aquatics Centre (TAC) in early May 2021. (Image from the online backyard tour.)

🔴 May 1st–6th, 2021: FINA Diving World Cup 2021 test event and Olympic qualifier is held successfully at Tokyo Aquatics Centre (TAC) without spectators. The first time a test event is held with foreign athletes (46 countries) since the pandemic started. Total 225 divers competed with China and Australia absent.

Since test events require athletes and staff from overseas to enter Japan, it takes much time and effort to ensure their entry to Japan and safety against infections.

・Very strict protocols implemented for athletes and staff. They are PCR-tested within 72 hours before departure to Japan. Then tested again upon arrival at the airport in Tokyo and tested a third time 3 days after arrival. They are also tested regularly during the competition. This allows them to skip the two-week quarantine.
・Athletes and staff stay at a hotel near the Aquatics Centre. The hotel is a bubble for them as they are isolated from other hotel guests. They use a back entrance and occupy entire hotel floors (two). They have their own elevator stopping only on their floors. Everyone has their own room, no roommates. Take-out meals are brought to the floor’s elevator hall where each athlete would come and pick up their meal. They eat alone in their room. They are not allowed to go out of their hotel other than to the Aquatics Centre by dedicated bus.
・The number of hotel staff working on the athletes’ floors are minimized to only 13 and they are also PCR tested twice during the athletes’ stay at the hotel.
・The press is not allowed to enter the poolside. They are kept away from the athletes.
・One Japanese male diver developed a sore throat and withdrew. He had tested negative, and it turned out to be tonsillitis.
・To makeup for the diving test event being held without spectators, a backyard tour online is provided.

May 4, 2021: Gymnastics operational test event held at Ariake Gymnastics Centre. Closed to the public.

May 5, 2021: Sapporo Marathon Festival 2021 test event held successfully at Sapporo Odori Park. It sees 94 athletes from five countries, including six from overseas. Operational staff numbered 2,700.

May 5, 2021: Japanese lawyer and two-time unsuccessful Tokyo gubernatorial candidate Utsunomiya Kenji starts an online petition at named “Cancel the Tokyo Olympics to protect our lives.” The petition quickly garners numerous signatures and much media attention. It eventually receives about 460,000 signatures from Japan and overseas, but nowhere near a majority of signatures from Tokyo residents (14 million). No petition nor protest against other sporting events (baseball, soccer, sumo) being held in Japan with spectators.

🔴 May 6, 2021: IOC announces that Pfizer will donate its COVID-19 vaccine for 20,000 Japanese athletes and Tokyo 2020 staff.

May 8, 2021: READY STEADY TOKYO rhythmic gymnastics test event held at Ariake Gymnastics Centre. Closed to the public.

May 9, 2021: READY STEADY TOKYO athletics test event held at Olympic Stadium. It sees 350 athletes from seven countries and regions. Closed to the public.

May 10, 2021: IOC President Thomas Bach‘s planned visit to Japan in mid-May is postponed due to Tokyo’s coronavirus state of emergency extended until the end of May 2021 amid a fourth wave of infections. He had planned to participate in a torch relay event in Hiroshima on May 17. He eventually visits Hiroshima on July 16, 2021.

May 11, 2021: READY STEADY TOKYO Paralympic athletics test event held at Olympic Stadium. Closed to the public.

May 2021: Tokyo Marathon volunteers are asked to be volunteers for the Olympic cycling road race from Tokyo to Shizuoka.

Shizuoka Prefecture reports a shortage of torch relay volunteers for June 23–25. They need 1,600 volunteers, but got only 1,300.

In most torch relay municipalities, out-of-town torch relay volunteers are being declined to take part in volunteer activities. Torch relay volunteers are being limited to local residents.

Field Cast Games Volunteer Uniform

🍀May 12, 2021: After making reservations, volunteers start to pickup their official uniforms and accreditation card(s). Uniform pickup locations are only in prefectures where there are Olympic or Paralympic venues: Tokyo, Shizuoka, Tohoku, and Sapporo. Nothing in western Japan, not even in Osaka.

In Tokyo, the uniform pickup site is UAC (Uniform Accreditation Center in the old Hotel Okura) near Kamiyacho Station. It has a fitting room to try on the actual uniform (shirts, pants, sneakers, etc) for size. Volunteers could change their uniform size if necessary.

Volunteers are required to pickup the uniform in person so their photo ID and face can be checked on site. (No shipping of uniforms.) Those who live far away from pickup locations complain about the travel distance and expense. Also, the state of emergency in some prefectures discourages traveling outside the prefecture. TOCOG later extends the uniform pickup period to August 5. This allows volunteers from afar to pickup the uniform when they arrive in Tokyo for the Games.

Volunteer uniform
Volunteer/staff uniform (sneakers pictured below) made by ASICS.
Volunteer/staff uniform sneakers "GEL-BREEZE" by ASICS
Volunteer/staff uniform sneakers “GEL-BREEZE” by ASICS. (Custom designed with Tokyo 2020 logo.)

🍀The volunteer/staff uniform is made by ASICS and all items are branded with “Tokyo 2020.” Volunteers received the following:

Polo shirts: 3
Jacket: 1
Long pants/shorts (gray): 2
Sneakers (custom designed for Tokyo 2020): 1 pair
Ankle socks (navy blue): 2 pairs
Wide-brimmed hat (navy blue): 1
Masks imprinted with “Tokyo 2020” (navy blue): 2
Waist bag (gray): 1
VISA prepaid card (¥1000): 1
Plastic water bottle 500ml (from Coca-Cola): 1
Field Cast Pocket Guide: 1
Field Cast Support Guide (Japanese): 1
Field Cast Support Guide (English): 1
Field Cast Handbook (optional, Japanese or English version): 1
Field Cast notebook: 1
Small tote bag (blue) containing the booklets above: 1
Large, black tote bag to carry everything above (60cm wide x 40cm high, black): 1

May 13–14, 2021: READY STEADY TOKYO skateboarding test event held at Ariake Urban Sports Park. Closed to the public.

May 14–16, 2021: READY STEADY TOKYO 3×3 basketball test event held at Aomi Urban Sports Park. Closed to the public.

May 14, 2021: Olympics minister Marukawa Tamayo announces that 45 municipalities in Japan have canceled plans to host athletes for pre-Olympic training camps and cultural exchanges due to pandemic concerns.

She adds that 32 of the 45 municipalities said they were notified by their prospective athlete guests that they would cancel their training camp plans.

As of late April 2021, 528 municipalities in Japan were registered to welcome athletes from 184 countries and regions for pre-Olympic and Paralympic training camps.

May 14, 2021: In an interview with CNN, Rakuten Group CEO and chairman Mikitani Hiroshi says that holding the Tokyo Olympics during the pandemic would be a “suicide mission.” (Rakuten is not a Tokyo 2020 sponsor, and there were no COVID-19 deaths at Tokyo 2020. Rate of Covid-19 infection within Tokyo 2020 turned out to be extremely low.)

Later in June 2021, Tanaka Masahiro, pitcher for the Rakuten Eagles, is selected for the national baseball team which went on to win the gold medal at the big event his employer called a “suicide mission.”

May 17, 2021: READY STEADY TOKYO BMX freestyle cycling test event held at Ariake Urban Sports Park. Closed to the public.

May 17–21, 2021: READY STEADY TOKYO shooting test event held at Asaka Shooting Range. Closed to the public.

May 18, 2021: An oppositionist column in the Los Angeles Times titled “Olympics must be canceled after Japanese flip from fans to protesters amid COVID strain” ends with the sentence: “As catastrophic as it will be to call off the Olympics, the alternative figures to be worse.” (The sports writer of this column, Dylan Hernández, later attends the “worse than catastrophic” Tokyo 2020 Olympics and has fun in Japan while safely reporting the Olympics.)

🍀May 18, 2021: At a routine press conference, Olympics Minister Marukawa finally makes an official comment about Covid testing for volunteers.

Media members and volunteers who will be near athletes within 1 meter for 15 min. or longer will be required to be Covid-tested (saliva) every day. The test can be done on the night before instead of the early morning. Daily testing will be required for volunteer interpreters and vehicle drivers for athletes.
Other volunteers who interact with athletes are to be tested every 4 or 7 days.

🍀Mid-May 2021: Venue-specific online training is held for Olympic Village (NCS) volunteers. MS Teams and Powerpoint presentation for about 1 hr. 45 min. (including a 10-min. break). During the last 10 min., Q&A is held via the chat feature.

May 20, 2021: During a videoconference with TMG, IOC President Thomas Bach states that he expects more than 80 percent of Olympic Village residents to be vaccinated. He also reiterates that Tokyo 2020 would not be canceled, citing other sporting events that proved that the sports events could be held safely with COVID countermeasures.

May 21, 2021: During an online press conference, IOC Vice President John Coates is asked if the Games would still proceed even if Tokyo was still under a Covid state of emergency. He cites the athletics and diving events held successfully in May 2021 and replies, “The answer is absolutely yes” which draws criticism on social media in Japan.

May 22, 2021: Expressing his opposition to the Tokyo Olympics, SoftBank founder and CEO Son Masayoshi tweets in Japanese opposing the Olympics including, “Currently more than 80% of people want the Olympics to be postponed or canceled. Who and on what authority is it being forced through?” (SoftBank is not a Tokyo 2020 sponsor, and the claim that 80% of people want the Olympics to be postponed or canceled is dubious.)

Later in June 2021, Yanagita Yuki, outfielder for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, is selected for the national baseball team which went on to win the gold medal at the event his employer described as being “forced through.”

May 22, 2021: Addressing a meeting of the International Hockey Federation, IOC President Thomas Bach states: “The athletes definitely can make their Olympic dreams come true. We have to make some sacrifices to make this possible.”

This was mistranslated into Japanese, implying that Japan would have to make Covid sacrifices even in human lives. The mistranslation/misunderstanding creates anger on social media in Japan.

May 24, 2021: Mass vaccinations (Moderna) finally starts in Japan for elderly people.

May 24, 2021: Although foreign tourists still cannot enter Japan, the US State Department issues the most serious “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory against US citizens traveling to Japan due to the sharp increase in Covid-19 cases. Two weeks later on June 8, it was lowered to “Level 3: Reconsider Travel.” It does not apply to US athletes traveling to Japan for Tokyo 2020.

May 26, 2021: TOCOG reveals the breakdown of Tokyo 2020 participants arriving from overseas. Before the postponement, the number was 177,700. This was reduced by more than half to 78,000 (59,000 Olympic participants and 19,000 Paralympic participants).

The people who were cut included 30,000 friends and family members of athletes and 61,700 family members of IOC members and guests of sponsors.

However, the number of IOC, IPC, NOC, and NPC staff and members remain unchanged with 3,000 Olympic Family (IOC) members, 2,000 Paralympic Family (IPC) members, 14,800 NOC members, and 5,900 NPC members. (Later in June 2021, TOCOG announces substantial reductions of IOC, IPC, NOC, and NPC staff and members.)

May 26, 2021: Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, an official sponsor of Tokyo 2020, publishes an editorial urging the Olympics to be canceled due to public health risks and strains on the medical system. (Such concerns turn out to be unwarranted.)

May 26, 2021: After bashing Tokyo 2020 all these months with scathing articles and editorials/opinions, the Washington Post flip-flops with articles supportive of the Tokyo Olympics:

May 27, 2021: Ueyama Naoto, chairman of the Japan Doctors Union, says the Tokyo Olympics could produce an “Olympic” coronavirus strain. (Never did.)

JUNE 2021

Aussie Spirit
Australia’s Olympic women’s softball team arrive in Japan on June 1.

🔴 June 1, 2021: The first Olympic athletes arrive in Tokyo. Australia’s Olympic women’s softball team (“Aussie Spirit”) start their quarantine before their 1.5-month pre-Games training camp in Ota, Gunma Prefecture.

They are to play 23 practice games with various teams, including Japan. The fact that the Olympics will actually happen finally hits home with their arrival.

The Australians and the city of Ota already know each other quite well since the Australian team has been based in Ota during previous tournaments in Japan in previous years. They like the facilities in Ota. It’s like “home away from home” for the Australians. Ota is where Subaru has its main automotive factories as well as the Subaru car museum and factory tour (SUBARU Visitor Center).

The Mayor of Ota, Shimizu Masayoshi, also stated, “Ota may be able to prove that host town activities can be done safely.” He also wants Aussie Spirit to medal, but no higher than Silver because he wants Japan to get the Gold (which they did).

As of late May 2021, Japan has 528 host towns for national teams from overseas to train and meet local residents. However, due to pandemic difficulties or fears, 105 host towns (or national teams) have given up their host town training camp plans due to COVID-19 fears or expenses.

June 1, 2021: With Covid vaccine donated by Pfizer, the inoculation of 20,000 Japanese Olympic athletes, coaches, and staff begins.

🍀June 2, 2021: TOCOG announces that about 10,000 of 80,000 Games volunteers have dropped out. This includes the 1,800 overseas volunteers forced to withdraw and the 1,000 who quit soon after TOCOG President Mori’s sexist remarks in February 2021. Volunteers who withdraw still have the option to rejoin.

TOCOG does not keep statistics on the reasons for the volunteers withdrawing, but the postponed dates and Covid fears are likely to be the main reasons.

TOCOG says it will not affect operations, and there are no plans to recruit more volunteers.

🍀Meanwhile, the withdrawal rate among City Cast volunteers is much higher, at least 20 percent to 35 percent. City Cast volunteers mostly started quitting after overseas spectators were not allowed to enter Japan. City Cast were recruited by prefectures having a Tokyo 2020 venue.

Chiba Prefecture, with Narita Airport, recently reported that 30 percent of their 2,826 City Cast volunteers have withdrawn. Before Covid, Chiba aimed to select 3,000 out of 6,500 who applied.

In Miyagi Prefecture, almost half of their 1,700 City Cast volunteers have quit. They now have 910.

In Yamanashi Prefecture where the cycling road race will be held, 85 of their 163 City Cast volunteers have withdrawn. However, their original target for volunteers was only 100, but 163 applied.

June 2, 2021: TMG cancels the Yoyogi Park live site for public viewing of the Games.

June 3, 2021: TOCOG unveils the victory ceremony podium, the fan-shaped trays to carry the medals to medalists, and the costumes to be worn by medal tray bearers at the Olympics and Paralympics victory ceremonies. The podium is made of recycled plastics and fabricated with a 3D printer.

victory podium
Tokyo 2020 victory ceremony podium features the ichimatsu moyo checkered pattern in 3D on the sides. Total of 98 podiums were made. Designed by Asao Tokolo who also designed the Tokyo 2020 emblems.
Hydrangea and mini Tokyo 2020 mascots during rainy season
Hydrangea and mini mascots during rainy season in June 2021.

🔴 June 4th–6th, 2021: National public opinion poll taken by Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper indicates 50% in favor of holding the Games and 48% who want it canceled.

Of the 50% in favor, 24% want to limit the number of spectators and 26% want no spectators. In May, Yomiuri found 59% wanted the Games to be canceled. Now it’s 11% less.

June 8, 2021: TOCOG President Hashimoto states that media members from overseas will be required to undergo a two-week quarantine after arrival and movements to be recorded with GPS in case there is any infections or problems.

June 8, 2021: Thomas Bach announces the IOC Refugee Olympic Team’s 29 athletes from 11 countries representing 12 sports who will be competing at Tokyo 2020.

June 11, 2021: International Weightlifting Federation announces that New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard (43) qualified to compete at Tokyo 2020 (women’s +87 kg division) as the first transgender woman athlete (formerly competing in male events) at the Olympics.

June 13, 2021: The Group of Seven nations at the G7 summit in Cornwall declare their support for the Tokyo Olympics.

JAL Boeing 777-200 in Tokyo 2020 livery approaches Haneda Airport as it passes over Sea Forest Waterway.
JAL Boeing 777-200 in Tokyo 2020 livery (mascots) approaches Haneda Airport as it passes over Sea Forest Waterway.
Japan Airlines Boeing 777-200 jet in Tokyo 2020 livery at Haneda Airport
Japan Airlines Boeing 777-200 jet in Tokyo 2020 livery at Haneda Airport. Tail says “Fly for it!” JAL also had planes with the tail’s JAL Crane logo in gold instead of red.
Sweet gesture from the crew of ANA flying a Games staffer from Sydney to Tokyo
June 14, 2021: Sweet gesture from the crew of ANA flying a Games staffer from Sydney to Tokyo. (Photo by Maartje Theunissen)
Arrival lobby at Narita Airport, autumn 2019
Arrival lobby at Narita Airport, autumn 2019.

June 15–22, 2021: Third and final version of playbooks (PDF files) are issued.

🍀June 15, 2021: More Games volunteers go on record to express their anxiety and serious doubts about the Games, drowning out optimistic volunteers who are actually in the majority and proved to be right about Tokyo 2020 not becoming a COVID-19 super spreader:

June 17, 2021: The Japanese government ends Tokyo’s state of emergency.

Tokyo 2020 Coronavirus Vaccination Program

🍀June 8, 2021: Following a TOCOG board meeting, TOCOG CEO Muto Toshiro announces that they want all 70,000 Games volunteers and Japanese media members to be vaccinated.

He says it was definitely feasible, and they are negotiating to procure more Pfizer vaccines. Also working on the logistics to get enough medical personnel and vaccination centers without affecting ongoing vaccinations for the general population. They may use existing or corporate facilities to vaccinate volunteers and media members.

June 9, 2021: TOCOG President Hashimoto states that domestic media members will also be required to be vaccinated. Like the Japanese athletes, they will be provided with the Pfizer vaccine for free.

June 15, 2021: Pfizer provides COVID-19 mRNA vaccine for another 20,000 Tokyo 2020 participants. Totaling 40,000 so far.

June 17, 2021: With Covid vaccine donated by Pfizer, the inoculation of 600 Japanese Paralympic athletes, coaches, and staff begins.

Left: At Tochomae Station, signs point the way to TMG’s mass vaccination center.
Right: Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s 45th-floor North observation deck becomes a mass vaccination center for priority Tokyo 2020 staff and volunteers. This is the 15-min. waiting/observation area after getting vaccinated.

🍀June 18–August 21, 2021: Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s 45th-floor North observation deck in Shinjuku opens as a vaccination center for Tokyo 2020 employees, volunteers, and contractors to receive their first and second Pfizer doses. From June 18, 2021, a total of 40,000 people connected to Tokyo 2020 are vaccinated at TMG with Pfizer vaccines donated by the IOC. The second shot started to be given from July 9, 2021 at TMG.

So far, about 9,000 volunteers to be working near athletes are selected for priority vaccination such as:
・Athlete village staff
・NOC/NPC assistants
・Competition staff
・Airport staff
・Doping staff

Eventually, the 40,000 vaccinated people consisted of the following:
Japanese athletes and staff: 2,200
Sports directors: 1,300
Games staff (paid staff, volunteers, contractors, etc.): 30,000 (including 14,300 volunteers)
Media: 5,000

By area or specific location/occupation, the 40,000 vaccinated people were as follows:
Competition venues: 16,800
Olympic Village: 3,000
NOC/NPC assistants and interpreters: 2,100
Transportation and airport: 3,000
Medical and anti-doping: 2,000
Food and beverage: 2,000
Japanese media: 6,400
Security: 2,000

TOCOG CEO Muto Toshiro initially stated that they were having difficulty procuring vaccines for all 70,000 volunteers. Therefore, no vaccines yet for 50,000 remaining volunteers.

Fortunately, for the 50,000 remaining unvaccinated volunteers, TMG belatedly secures Moderna vaccines for the first shot given during June 30 to July 3 at Tsukiji and the second shot during July 31 to August 11, 2021. It was too late for many people, but better late than never. It would be effective for Paralympic volunteers.

NHK News reports that additional vaccines (Moderna) have been secured for the remaining 50,000 volunteers
June 26, 2021: NHK News reports that additional vaccines (Moderna) have been secured for the remaining 50,000 volunteers.

June 18, 2021: TOCOG announces substantial reductions of IOC, IPC, NOC, and NPC staff/members coming to Japan. The 3,000 Olympic Family (IOC) members have been reduced to 1,200, the 2,000 Paralympic Family (IPC) members to 400, and media members from overseas have also been reduced. The total number of Olympic people will then be 41,000, and Paralympic people 12,000. The total of 53,000 is much less than the reduced number of 78,000 announced in May 2021 and less than one-third the original number of 177,000.

Japan’s COCOA contact tracing app notification.

June 19, 2021: Uganda becomes the second national team to arrive for the Tokyo Olympics. However, at Narita Airport, one of the coaches tests positive for Covid-19 and is put in isolation. After the remaining eight Ugandans went on to Izumisano, Osaka for their training camp, another member tests positive.

June 20, 2021: Tokyo’s third state of emergency, in effect since May 7, is lifted in time for the Games.

June 21, 2021: The five organizers announce that up to 10,000 spectators will be allowed at each venue or only 50 percent of venue capacity, whichever is less. Also, only 20,000 at the Opening Ceremony. Subject to change depending on any state of emergency. (All spectators are eventually banned.)

June 21, 2021: India’s National Olympic Committee complains to TOCOG about the three-day quarantine period to be imposed on their athletes (and those from ten other countries) after arrival in Japan.

June 22–30, 2021: Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko is hospitalized for severe fatigue. She apologizes for not being at work during such a critical time soon before the Olympics.

June 23, 2021: TOCOG President Hashimoto announces guidelines for spectator activities. They include a ban on the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages at venues, no shouting, no high fives, etc.

June 23, 2021: TOCOG announces that about 25 percent of Tokyo 2020 ticket holders in Japan will lose their tickets in order to reduce the number of spectators from 3.6 million to 2.72 million. About 910,000 ticket holders will be disallowed from watching the Games in person.

The unlucky people will be selected in a lottery on July 6. The affected sports include athletics, baseball, football, golf, modern pentathlon, rugby sevens, softball, and surfing. The plan is subject to change (further reduction) depending on the Covid situation and state of emergency in Tokyo. (All spectators are eventually banned and this lottery is never held.)

TV news speculate over the 20,000 limit on spectators for the Opening Ceremony.
TV news media speculate over the 20,000 limit on spectators for the Opening Ceremony. Maybe allow 7,300 Olympic family people, 15,000 sponsor staff, and 9,300 spectators from the public. (All spectators are eventually banned.)
Final version of the Workforce Playboo

🍀June 23, 2021: Final version of the Workforce Playbook (for volunteers) is released.

June 24, 2021: Imperial Household Agency Grand Steward Nishimura Yasuhiko states that Emperor Naruhito was very concerned about the coronavirus situation and hoped the organizers can work together to prevent the spread of infections and that the Games would not increase the spread of COVID-19 infections.

🍀June 26, 2021: In a major breakthrough, vaccines for all 70,000 Games volunteers have been procured. Moderna vaccine is to be provided to Japan-based volunteers who have not received a Pfizer vaccination notification earlier this month.

June 28, 2021: The White House states that US President Joe Biden will not be attending Tokyo 2020, while his wife Jill is thinking about attending to represent the US government. (She ultimately attends Tokyo 2020.)

🍀 June 30–July 3, 2021: Games volunteers are vaccinated with Moderna at Tsukiji for the first dose. Second dose at Yoyogi Park during July 31 to August 2, 10, 11. Even volunteers overseas who cannot enter Japan receive a notification to get vaccinated in Tsukiji.

Email notifications for unvaccinated volunteers (about 50,000) are sent out. However, only 8,300 opt to get vaccinated. A little late for the Olympics, but in time for the Paralympics.

Late June 2021: Event companies and temp agencies like Pasona continue to recruit paid staff (Japan residents only) for the Games until the end of June. Many job descriptions are similar to volunteer roles and includes managerial jobs.

🍀 Olympic Village Field Cast Training and Tour

Harumi Passenger Terminal
Harumi Passenger Ship Terminal in the Olympic Village serves as the NOC/NPC Services Centre.

Harumi Passenger Ship Terminal in the Olympic Village serves as the NOC/NPC Services Centre on the 1st to 4th floors. Meeting rooms and rest area for Olympic Village (OLV) volunteers. Rooftop is a lookout deck. The people walking are NOC volunteers going to tour the OLV. (NOC/NPC: National Olympic/Paralympic Committee)
(This terminal closed on Feb. 20, 2022 and was demolished from July 2022 to make way for a new medium-size passenger ship terminal that will be smaller and less costly to maintain.)

In late June 2021, Games volunteers assigned to the Olympic Village in Harumi attend a lecture for venue-specific training at the NOC/NPC Services Centre (Harumi Passenger Terminal).
In late June 2021, Games volunteers assigned to the Olympic Village in Harumi attend a lecture for venue-specific training at the NOC/NPC Services Centre (Harumi Passenger Terminal).

A: Volunteers tour OLV for the first time as part of their training.
B: Volunteers walk along the main road (no flags yet) in the OLV toward the main dining hall.

JULY 2021

Official mascots Miraitowa and Someity displayed at TMG
Official mascots Miraitowa and Someity sculptures displayed at TMG in Shinjuku.

July 8, 2021: IOC President Thomas Bach arrives in Tokyo on a commercial flight on Lufthansa instead of a private jet like he did on his last visit. At the airport, he takes the secret VIP exit and does not appear in the Arrivals lobby where numerous press was waiting.

Like a head of state, Bach’s car from Haneda Airport to his hotel is surrounded by police motorcycles and Japanese Secret Service vehicles. When arriving at his hotel (The Okura Tokyo), he opens the car window to wave to the press. The hotel is guarded by numerous police. Bach isolates in his hotel for the first three days.

🔴 🍀July 8, 2021: After delaying the decision multiple times, the five organizers finally decide to ban even domestic Olympics spectators in Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, and Kanagawa Prefectures following the Japanese government’s decision to declare another state of emergency. A very sad decision, but better than an outright cancellation.

It is a heavy blow to TOCOG, which would lose the ticket revenue of ¥90 billion ($820 million). It had sold 4.48 million Olympics tickets.

The decision also affects Games volunteers assigned to Event Services (EVS), the department (FA) in charge of guiding and managing spectators.

July 9, 2021: It is announced that spectators would also not be allowed in Hokkaido’s Olympic events.

July 10, 2021: It is announced that spectators would also not be allowed in Fukushima’s Olympic events.

July 10, 2021: Artistic swimming operational test event held at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Closed to the public.

🍀July 11, 2021: Despite no spectators, TOCOG announces that all remaining 70,000 volunteers will still be retained. No one will be let go. They plan to reassign the extra volunteers to different roles or venues if necessary.

🍀TOCOG CEO Muto Toshiro also states that they want as many volunteers as possible to be involved in the Games, even for a day. This seems to imply that volunteers can work fewer than the minimum number of 10 days that was originally required.

🍀The mayor of Chiba city, where Makuhari Messe (wrestling, fencing, taekwondo) is located, has stated that the city’s City Cast volunteers will be inactivated for the Olympics since there will be no spectators. Chiba city originally had 1,600 City Cast which shrank to 780 due to the postponement and Covid fears. They were to be assigned to train stations and information desks to guide spectators.

🍀Mid-July 2021: It is reported that Tokyo 2020 volunteer uniforms were being sold on auction and flea market sites in Japan for as much as ¥10,000 or more. Apparently, a few volunteers are trying to sell their uniforms in violation of the rules. It also poses a security risk to have unauthorized persons wearing the uniform to the Games. Reseller websites have been informed of this violation. Any volunteers found to be selling a uniform is to be booted out.

Pre-Olympic Training Camps in Host Towns

Despite a number of host towns and national teams abandoning their plans to have training in host towns in Japan, most host towns and national teams went ahead with their plans for July 2021. COVID-19 countermeasures disallowed athletes from mingling with local residents and touring the town freely. Online exchanges were held instead.

July 11–18, 2021: New Zealand’s Olympic rowing team (35 athletes and 18 staff) conduct their successful pre-Olympic training camp at Lake Biwa in the host city of Otsu, Shiga Prefecture (near Kyoto). They stay at the Otsu Prince Hotel and train at the local Seta Rowing Club at Lake Biwa. The team had high praise for their host town:

The public is also invited to watch them rowing on the lake. New Zealand goes on to win the most Olympic medals in rowing with three gold and two silver medals at Tokyo 2020.

Thank you to our dear friends at Seta Rowing Club for a warm and hospitable experience building up to racing. The…

Posted by Rowing NZ on Friday, July 16, 2021

July 16–20, 2021: The city of Makinohara in Shizuoka Prefecture stood firm and remained determined to host the USA surfing team as planned. The city had invited the team back in 2016 and even built a surfing wave pool for their training camp.

The US surfing team arrives Haneda Airport on July 16 and immediately travels to Makinohara for their training camp. They ride local waves at Shizunami Beach as well as on artificial waves at the new Shizunami Surf Stadium. They are also entertained by local firemen acrobatics atop high ladders.

Woman surfer and soon-to-be gold medalist Carissa Moore, full of the Aloha Spirit, gives a thank you speech
Another host town success story: Hawaiʻi-born woman surfer and soon-to-be gold medalist Carissa Moore, full of the Aloha Spirit, gives a thank you speech in Japanese at their Pre-Olympic training camp in Makinohara, Shizuoka. Video:

Before the team leaves for Chiba on July 20, Carissa Moore (from Honolulu, Hawaii) gives a thank you speech in Japanese. (She studied Japanese in junior high school.)

Later when Carissa wins the Olympic gold medal at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach in Chiba on July 27, the cheering people in Makinohara are ecstatic and extremely happy and proud to have been the team’s host town. Duke Kahanamoku, who wished surfing to be an Olympic sport, most likely also smiled from Heaven. Video:

July 12, 2021: Tokyo’s fourth state of emergency starts and covers the Olympics period. Ends on August 22, 2021.

July 13, 2021: The Olympic Village in Harumi opens to athletes and coaches without any opening ceremony. As widely reported, athletes also receive free condoms to be used after they go back to their home countries.

July 15, 2021: Thomas Bach meets with Tokyo Governor Koike and states that there will be zero risk to people in Japan.

July 15, 2021: Thirty-six equestrian horses arrive Narita Airport. Total of 330 equestrian horses for the Olympics and Paralympics are to arrive by mid-August 2021.

July 16, 2021: One of the Ugandan athletes training in Izumisano, Osaka runs away from his hotel after leaving a note that he wants to work in Japan. He is later found in Mie Prefecture on July 20 and requests refugee status. However, he returns to Uganda on July 21.

July 16, 2021: TMG cancels plans to invite school children from the recovering Tohoku Region and Kumamoto Prefecture to spectate at the Olympics in Tokyo.

July 17, 2021: As ordered by the IOC, Team South Korea remove their controversial banners outside their Olympic Village accommodations. They state that the IOC promised that Japan’s rising sun flag would be disallowed at venues.

July 17–18, 2021: American distance runner Paul Chelimo claims on Twitter on July 17 that the cardboard beds in the Olympic Village were anti-sex beds “preventing intimacy among athletes.”

On the next day, Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan posts on Twitter to quash the rumor that the cardboard beds are anti-sex by filming himself jumping on the bed. The bed does not break. He says the beds being “anti-sex was fake news.”

Recyclable cardboard bed for Tokyo 2020 athletes at the Olympic/Paralympic Village is sturdier than it looks. Made by airweave especially for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Village. The company has no plans to sell the beds to the public..

July 18, 2021: For the first time, athletes (two) from overseas staying at the Olympic Village test positive for COVID-19. Later, two South African male football players also test positive. (No clusters at the Olympic Village.)

July 18, 2021: Age 30 Uzbek university male student Davronbek Rakhmatullaev (ダヴロンベク・ラフマトゥッラエフ) working as meal delivery staff for the Olympic Stadium press is arrested for raping a Japanese female part-time worker in her 20s at the Olympic Stadium on July 16, 2021. Working part-time for a food company, Rakhmatullaev had delivered meals to the press dining room and the assault occurred at around 9:00 pm in the spectator seats and aisle after they had watched the Closing Ceremony rehearsal that evening. They met for the first time that day and it was her first day on the job. The suspect clams that it was consensual. He has been in Japan since 2014 enrolled at a private university in Aichi Prefecture.

July 19, 2021: The Korean Sport & Olympic Committee announces that it has reserved a hotel near the Olympic Village to prepare their own food for their athletes. They will screen all food for radiation. Korea had expressed concerns about their athletes being served food from Fukushima at the Olympic Village even though the Japanese government assured that it was safe.

Local media in South Korea were also critical of the flowers from Fukushima being used in the victory bouquet given to medalists.

July 19, 2021: Due to the spread of COVID-19, Games sponsor Toyota decides not to air Tokyo 2020-related TV commercials in Japan.

🍀 Games Volunteers Mobilized

Tokyo 2020 volunteers at a venue training session.
A few days or weeks before the Games: Most Games volunteers start their assignments with venue-specific training. At Tatsumi Water Polo Centre, Press Operations (PRS) volunteers attend a training session (orientation) in the Venue Media Centre (VMC) aka Press Conference Room.

July 21, 2021: Without any rival bids, Brisbane, Australia is selected to be the host city for the 2032 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

July 20, 2021: Imperial Household Agency announces that Emperor Naruhito would attend the Opening Ceremony on July 23 without Empress Masako. Also, all plans for Imperial Family members to attend Tokyo 2020 competitions are canceled.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: July 23–August 8, 2021

July 21, 2021: Tokyo 2020 Olympic competition starts with women’s softball and football.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics Opening Ceremony

🔴 July 23, 2021: Tokyo 2020 Olympics Opening Ceremony is held at the Olympic Stadium with 6,000 athletes and no spectators. The NHK television audience for the live broadcast of the Olympics Opening Ceremony averaged 56.4 percent of viewers in the Tokyo area.

A: At the Olympic Village, volunteers hold signs (Bulgaria, Bolivia, and Ivory Coast) to direct athletes to their buses for the Opening Ceremony.
B: At the Olympic Village, volunteers wave to the Cabo Verde delegation going to the Opening Ceremony.
C: At the Olympic Village, a long line of buses await athletes going to the Opening Ceremony.
D: At the Olympic Stadium, athletes line up to enter the field for the Opening Ceremony. (Guyana is pictured.)
E: Inside the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony.
F: Globe aerial sculpture created with drones.
G: Live pictogram show on the small stage.
H: Fireworks were not part of cost-cutting measures. Also delighted the crowd watching outside the stadium. (Tokyo Governor Koike did say the Games should not be dull.)
I: Olympic flame cauldron (before lighting by Naomi Osaka).

🔴 July 23–August 9, 2021: Tokyo 2020 Olympics is held with 11,259 athletes from 206 NOCs (including a refugee team). They compete in a record number of 33 sports and 339 events held at 42 venues. Includes five new Olympic sports: baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, surfing, and sports climbing. A major theme is urban sports such as skateboarding and BMX freestyle geared for the younger generation. For gender equality at Tokyo 2020, a record 48 percent of Olympic athletes are female.

During the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, new world records are set in 20 events in six sports.

The number of Tokyo Olympics participants from overseas is reduced to one-third the original number, from 141,000 to 33,000 people.

Olympic Family: 1,000
NOC (National Olympic Committees, including athletes): 11,400 (Final count 11,259)
IFs (International sports federations): 2,600
OBS (Olympic Broadcasting Services): 11,000
Press: 3,200
Others: 3,700
Approx. total from overseas: 33,000

As Japan wins a record number of Olympic medals, the Japanese public comes around and heavily favors the holding of the Olympics.

🍀Total 51,672 Field Cast volunteers work during the Olympics. (Also, 24,514 Games volunteers work during the Paralympics.) Volunteers originally assigned to Event Services (EVS) to take care of spectators have problems finding alternate roles. Some, especially those who are bilingual, are reassigned to other roles. Others have hardly any days to be a volunteer.

Japan’s summer heat and humidity prompts schedule changes in tennis, the women’s soccer final, and the women’s marathon.

"Mask Off" and "Mask On" signs
“Mask Off” and “Mask On” signs for medalists posing for press photos on the podium. Used by Press Operations staff/volunteers during the victory ceremony.

The IOC allows medalists to remove their masks for 30 seconds to pose for photos while on the podium. They are signaled with “Mask Off/On” signs held by Press Operations staff/volunteers.

🍀Athletes and staff/volunteers working near athletes are tested daily for Covid. Other volunteers and staff are tested at least every four or seven days for Covid with saliva samples.

Led by ALSOK, 553 security companies from all 47 prefectures provide the 14,000 security staff required daily during Tokyo 2020. Total security staff employed is 517,000. They are allowed to carry drinks (first time at an Olympics), and none are stricken with a serious case of heat illness.

July 23, 2021 onward: Long lines form in front of the Olympic rings in front of the Japan Olympic Museum (near the Olympic Stadium). People (families) want to take selfies with the rings. It takes as long as an hour wait.

🍀July 24, 2021: TBS TV reports that due to no spectators, fewer volunteers were assigned to the Opening Ceremony, resulting in over 4,000 extra bento meals (40 percent) for volunteers discarded as food waste.

For July 2021, 810,000 bento (box lunches) were provided, but 190,000 bento (24%) were discarded. In August, out of 690,000 bento, 100,000 (15%) was discarded. In September, out of 100,000 bento, 8,000 (8%) were discarded.

The food waste was reduced as the weeks passed. Excess rolls were donated to food banks and the discarded meals were made into fertilizer or biogas.

One common silent complaint among volunteers and staff at many venues was that the free meals were not so delicious (too salty) and the menu not diverse. This also contributed to food waste. (Only the desserts were all consumed.) Only some of the venues had good food.

A: Daily meal voucher is required to get your meal. Available at the volunteers’ check-in desk.
B: Free lunch for volunteers and staff. At many venues, the bento meals looked like this and were not very good (too salty). Minimal menu variation. Spaghetti and rice balls or rolls every day. No halal nor vegetarian food.
Significant number of volunteers and staff declined to eat the food, increasing the amount of food waste that made news headlines.
C: Only the free ice cream (and drinks) and occasional dessert like cheesecake were totally consumed. The small cup of ice cream (left) always disappeared quickly. The stick ice cream (right) was not bad, but not as popular as the cup. Certain venues like the rowing venue, Olympic Village, and MPC did serve good food.

July 26, 2021: Team Israel’s baseball pitcher Ben Wanger posts a viral TikTok video showing how many athletes are needed to destroy the cardboard bed in the Olympic Village. His experiment concludes that nine Israeli Olympians jumping on the bed together can break the cardboard bed. Since the bed can support up to 200 kg, the nine athletes supposedly weigh more than 200 kg total.

Wanger soon deletes the video (still online at kann_news) and he and all the athletes involved apologize. At the end of the Games, Village volunteers/staff find more cardboard beds purposely damaged by athletes from other countries.

July 27, 2021: At Ariake Gymnastics Centre, US gymnast Simone Biles withdraws from the gymnastics final, citing the immense mental pressure. She is widely hailed for her courage and decision.

July 29, 2021: On a JAL flight home from Tokyo to Sydney, most of Australia’s Olympic rugby sevens and soccer players got terribly drunk and unruly on the 10-hour flight. At least one drunken football player vomited in one of the plane’s toilets, rendering it unusable for the rest of the flight. They were loud and disruptive to other passengers, drank in the aisles, did not wear masks, and did not follow directions from flight staff. Forty-nine Australian Olympians from nine sports were on the flight.

Some Olympic Village rooms occupied by Australian Olympians (rugby players and rowers) were also trashed, cardboard beds destroyed, and even rooms with a hole punched in the wall. The incident was reported on the news on Aug. 4, 2021, and Australia’s Olympic team chef de mission Ian Chesterman vowed to find out who did what and take disciplinary action. Being the first national team (“Aussie Spirit” women’s softball team) to arrive in Japan for the Games, Australia initially made a great impression on Japan but left with a shameful image.

July 31, 2021: TOCOG announces that two judoka from Georgia, silver medalists Vazha Margvelashvili and Lasha Shavdatuashvili, have been ejected from the Olympics for going sightseeing. The Georgians were seen in their Georgian uniforms near Tokyo Tower on the evening of July 27. COVID-19 rules state that athletes can only travel from their accommodations to competition venues or other permitted destinations. They are not allowed to take public transportation and walk around in the city, go shopping, etc.

Photos: Tokyo 2020 Look of the Games

Go to (mostly alphabetical order):
Olympic Village | Aomi Urban Sports Park | Ariake Arena | Ariake Gymnastics Centre |

Ariake Tennis Park | Ariake Urban Sports Park | Asaka Shooting Range | Canoe Slalom Centre |

Enoshima Yacht Harbour | Equestrian Park | Fuji International Speedway |

Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium | Ibaraki Kashima Stadium | International Stadium Yokohama | Izu MTB Course | Izu Velodrome | Kasumigaseki Country Club |

Kokugikan Arena | Makuhari Messe | Miyagi Stadium | Musashino Forest Sport Plaza |

Musashinonomori Park | Nippon Budokan | Odaiba Marine Park | Oi Hockey Stadium |

Olympic Stadium | Saitama Stadium | Saitama Super Arena | Sapporo Dome |

Sapporo Odori Park | Sea Forest Cross-Country Course | Sea Forest Waterway |

Shiokaze Park | Tatsumi Water Polo Centre | Tokyo Aquatics Centre |

Tokyo International Forum | Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium | Tokyo Stadium |

Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach | Yokohama Baseball Stadium | Yoyogi National Stadium |

Yumenoshima Park Archery Field | Tokyo Big Sight

Waterfront venues on Tokyo’s man-made islands. (Map displayed at Koto City Hall.)

Photo: In the foreground is Sea Forest Waterway and Cross-Country Course (yellow). Odaiba and Rainbow Bridge on the upper left. Olympic Village at center top. Aquatics venues on the upper right corner. Tokyo Big Sight and Ariake venues toward the middle. Blue labels are train stations.

Olympic Village (OLV Harumi 選手村)

The Olympic/Paralympic Village will have 21 buildings (14 to 18 floors each) to provide 3,850 apartment units with 18,000 beds for Olympic athletes and staff and 8,000 beds for Paralympic athletes and staff. There will also be the Main Dining Hall, a three-story multi-function complex, and the woody Village Plaza with a beauty salon, gym, medical clinic, gift shop, etc., for athletes. Excluding the two waterfront parks, the Olympic Village is about 650 meters long and 350 meters wide, occupying the best one-third of the Harumi area (island).

After the Games, the Olympic Village will be renovated into condominiums for sale and rent and renamed “Harumi Flag.” Two 50-story towers will also be constructed (taking three years) to add 1,455 condominium units for sale. Since Olympic regulations do not allow high-rise buildings in Olympic Villages, the towers will be constructed after the Games.

The Main Dining Hall site become an elementary and junior high school, and the three-story multi-function complex will become a shopping mall. Condo owners were supposed to start moving in from March 2023, but this has been delayed by at least a year due to the postponement of Tokyo 2020. Harumi Flag will eventually house 12,000 residents from 2024. Since the current population of Harumi is about 16,000, the complex will greatly increase the local population.

Colorful national decorations at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Village.
Colorful national decorations at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Village.
L-R: USA, Australia, Italy, Finland and Sweden, and Thank you banner.

A: Flags Street, a main street.
B: Quarters for Belgium, Austria, Germany, and Albania.
C: Waterfront park popular to watch sunsets.
D: Athletes’ Village Plaza serves only Village residents. It houses the official Tokyo 2020 shop, post office, barber shop, general store, custom shoe store (ASICS), and other essential services. The building was made of wood donated from all 47 prefectures (63 municipalities) of Japan. The wood was branded with their place of origin. After the Games, the building was disassembled and wood shipped back to their prefectures for reuse.
E: Athletes’Village Plaza PSA (Pedestrian Screening Area) where they screen your bags and accreditation card.
F: Main Dining Hall can serve a maximum 45,000 meals per day. Tables have plexiglass on the tables and sanitizing wipes. The seating was reduced for social distancing.

Olympic Village rings
Popular photo spot in the Olympic Village for selfies. Harumi Futo Park.

Problems at Olympic Village included groups of athletes drinking and partying loudly in the waterfront park (Harumi Futo Park) or near the residential buildings. Security patrols to break up noisy gatherings were beefed up, and notices about the problem were issued to all the national teams.

G: Flags Street with Italy and Argentina housed in the background building.
H: Sample furnished room.
I: Actual living room for athletes.
J: Bedroom for two athletes.
K: Beds are made of 100% recyclable cardboard.
L: Bathroom/shower.

At the Olympic Village, the Place of Mourning and Remembrance Tree at the end of Flags Street memorialize the eleven Israeli athletes killed by Palestinian terrorist gunmen at the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics on September 5, 1972. This memorial, first displayed at the Rio athletes’ village, travels to each Olympics.
At Tokyo 2020, for the first time at an Olympic Opening Ceremony, a much belated moment of silence was observed for the victims.

Tokyo 2020 Competition Venues (Alphabetical Order)

Look of the Games at Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic venues came in one of the five traditional Japanese colors (not Olympic colors) of Kurenai red, Ai indigo blue, Sakura cherry blossom pink, Fuji wisteria purple, and Matsuba pine green. All beautiful. Each venue has a three-letter abbreviation used mainly among Games’ staff.

Besides the competition venues, there were 80 Olympic training facilities and 27 Paralympic training facilities which opened five days before the start of the respective competition.

No smoking at all venues, both indoors or outdoors. No rooms or spaces for smoking were provided. This resulted in a few violations of people smoking at venues.
*If you want to contribute photos of venues, contact us.
*Special thanks to Games volunteer and staff friends who contributed photos.

Aomi Urban Sports Park (AUP) (青海アーバンスポーツパーク) – Sport Climbing, 3×3 Basketball, Football 5-a-side

・Opened: March 2020 ・Location: Near Tokyo Teleport Station. ・Map ・Status: Temporary venue, demolished.

aomi Venue
Aomi Urban Sports Park was another busy venue with multiple sports and configurations. That’s the sports climbing wall on the right.

Aomi Urban Sports Park was a temporary venue built on a large parking lot near two big shopping malls in Odaiba, Diver City (Gundam statue) and Venus Fort.
The sports climbing wall was already built and tested in March 2020. Upon the postponement of the Games, the sports climbing wall was partially dismantled for safety reasons. Only the wall’s support structure remained. The spectator stands were also removed since they were not durable outdoors for a year.

Ariake Arena (ARA) (有明アリーナ) – Volleyball, Wheelchair Basketball

・Opened: Feb. 2020 ・Location: Near Ariake-Tennis-no-Mori and Shin-Toyosu Stations. ・Map ・Status: To open for public events.

Ariake Arena
Ariake Arena (ARA) in the evening. Lower left is the Venue Media Centre (temporary building).

Completed in December 2019 and dedicated on February 2, 2020. New, permanent venue made with the walls and ceiling made of lots of wood from western Tokyo’s Tama district. It reflects the Kiba area being Tokyo’s traditional lumberyard. After the Games, it will become a multi-purpose venue for concerts and events and it is expected to operate in the black.

To reach the arena, there are also buses from Tokyo Station Marunouchi South Exit (bound for Tokyo Big Sight) and from Monzen-Nakacho Station (Tozai subway line) bound for Tokyo Teleport station, get off at Ariake Shochu Gakko-mae bus stop. It’s also walkable from Shin-Toyosu Station (Yurikamome Line).

Ariake Arena‘s Look of the Games was Kurenai Red. Photos above show a women’s volleyball match between Brazil (silver medal) and USA (gold medal). (Click/tap on thumbnail image to enlarge.)

Ariake Gymnastics Centre (AGC) (有明体操競技場) – Gymnastics, Boccia

・Opened: Oct. 2019 ・Location: Near Ariake-Tennis-no-Mori Station. ・Map ・Status: Temporary venue, retained for other purposes (exhibition hall).

Ariake Gymnastics Centre
Ariake Gymnastics Centre (AGC), beautiful building to remain.

Swank-looking, wooden building, highly visible from Ariake-Tennis-no-Mori Station. Tokyo 2020’s largest venue made of wood (karamatsu Japanese larch, cryptomeria, etc.). Capacity was 12,000 including 135 wheelchair spaces. The building won the BCS Award (Building Contractors Society BCS賞) for outstanding architecture by the Japan Federation of Construction Contractors (日本建設業連合会).

A: Artistic gymnastics at Tokyo 2020.
B: Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) gymnast on uneven bars.
C: Floor exercise and balance beam.
D: Vault.
E: USA gymnasts Sunisa Lee and Simone Biles (in white) exchange a few words.
F: Cabo Verde rhythmic gymnast Marcia Alves Lopes competes.

Ariake Tennis Park (ART) (有明テニスの森) – Tennis, Paralympic Tennis

・Opened: May 1983 ・Location: Near Kokusai-tenjijo, Ariake, and Ariake-Tennis-no-Mori Stations. ・Map ・Status: After completing major renovations, Coliseum, Show Court, and indoor courts to reopen in March 2022. Outdoor courts to reopen in March 2023.

Ariake Coliseum (Centre Court) with the roof closed.
Ariake Coliseum (Centre Court) with the roof closed.

Huge spread of tennis courts anchored by Ariake Coliseum (Centre Court) which opened in 1987, four years after the tennis park opened on a former golf course. Two new Show Courts built for Tokyo 2020.
Ariake Coliseum (有明コロシアム) has a moving roof to make it an open-air or indoor court. Besides tennis, the Coliseum is used for concerts, pro wrestling, and pro basketball.

Ariake Tennis Park (ART) has the main Centre Court in Ariake Coliseum and Show Courts No. 1 and No. 2 with spectator stands. It also has Show Courts No. 3 to 11 with almost no spectator seating. Photos show the Paralympic Look of the Games (wheelchair tennis).
A: Look of the Games in indigo on the stairs outside Ariake Coliseum.
B: Ariake Coliseum exterior.
C: Inside Venue Media Centre next to Ariake Coliseum. Press Conference Room was also inside this temporary building.
D: Show Court No. 1.
E: Show Court No. 2.
(Special thanks to Asuka-san for the tour.)

Ariake Urban Sports Park (ASP) (有明アーバンスポーツパーク) – Skateboarding, BMX Racing, BMX Freestyle

・Opened: 2020 ・Location: Near Ariake-Tennis-no-Mori Station. ・Map・Status: Temporary venue, demolished.

Ariake Urban Sports Park (ASP): Skateboarding
Ariake Urban Sports Park (ASP): Skateboarding appears in the Olympics for the first time at Tokyo 2020. Skateboarding venue had two halves, front half for Park and rear half for Street.

Cluster of three venues for BMX racing, freestyle BMX, and skateboarding. The site was originally planned for building a cycling velodrome and MTB course before both were moved to Izu Peninsula to save venue costs. The skateboarding venue was originally planned for Aomi Urban Sports Park until it was changed to Ariake Urban Sports Park in Dec. 2017.

A: Park skateboarding venue.
B: Street skateboarding venue behind the park venue.
C: BMX Freestyle cycling venue.
D: Women’s park skateboarding medalists at a press conference. L-R: HIRAKI Kokona (silver), YOSOZUMI Sakura (gold), and Sky BROWN (bronze) on August 4, 2021.
E: Women’s street skateboarding medalists at a press conference. L-R: LEAL Rayssa (silver), NISHIYA Momiji (gold), and NAKAYAMA Funa (bronze)
F: Men’s street skateboarding gold medalist HORIGOME Yuto, a local boy from Koto Ward where the venue is located.
G: BMX Racing course.

H: The large venue site (reclaimed land) was originally proposed for the Olympic Village.
I: BMX freestyle venue and spectator entry gate that was never used.
J: BMX racing track is covered with tarps before the Games. Since Ariake Urban Sports Park was visible from Ariake-Tennis-no-mori Station, station windows were covered up during the Games.

Asaka Shooting Range (ASR) (陸上自衛隊朝霞訓練場) – Olympic/Paralympic Shooting

・Opened: 1964 ・Location: Near Asaka and Wakoshi Stations (bus). ・Map・Status: Temporary faciilties dismantled. Closed to the public, being a Japan Ground Self-Defense Force base. Only the PR museum (Japan Ground Self Defense Force Public Information Center) is normally open to the public (currently closed due to the pandemic).

Shotgun Range (Ranges A to C) for skeet shooting.
Shotgun Range (Ranges A to C) for skeet shooting.

Legacy venue since it was used for rifle shooting events during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Normally used by the Japan Rifle Shooting Association and JSDF Physical Training School.

Asaka Shooting Range had three shooting ranges: Shotgun Range (Ranges A to C), Qualification Hall (Rifle & Pistol), and Finals Hall (Rifle & Pistol). Olympic Shooting photos above. (Photos by Maartje Theunissen)

A: Photographers at skeet shooting at the Shotgun Range.
B: Shotgun Range with volunteers/staff dealing with rainy days.
C: Finals Hall (Rifle & Pistol) from spectator seats.
D: Broadcast Mixed Zone in Finals Hall.
E: Transitioning from Olympics to Paralympics with a new shooting pictogram in the Finals Hall.

Paralympic Shooting

G: Qualification Hall (Rifle & Pistol).
H: Paralympic Rifle Qualification in the Qualification Hall.
I: Paralympic medals ceremony in Finals Hall.
J: Pistol Paralympic Qualification in Finals Hall.
K: Pistol Paralympic Finals.
L: OBS (Olympic Broadcasting Services) truck.

Canoe Slalom Centre (KSC) (カヌー・スラロームセンター) – Canoe (Slalom)

Enoshima Yacht Harbor (EYH) (江の島ヨットハーバー) – Sailing

・Opened: 1964 ・Location: Near Katase-Enoshima Station. ・Map ・Status: Open to the public.

Owned by Kanagawa Prefecture, Enoshima Yacht Harbor is a legacy venue used in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics for yachting (that’s what sailing was called back then). The small Olympic flame cauldron used in 1964 still stands at the harbor. The harbor is very popular among private boat owners because of its proximity to Tokyo and the area being a major tourist attraction.

Enoshima island is a major tourist attraction with the shopping path to the Shinto shrine and walking paths in and around most of the island for scenic views. Nearby Kamakura is also a major tourist attraction with the giant Daibutsu Buddha, Buddhist temples, and shrines.

To make room for the Tokyo Olympics, the 700 sailing dinghies and other boats in the harbor had to be moved out. From Jan. 2020, they started moving the boats to 17 locations in and outside the prefecture. Kanagawa Prefecture spent ¥1.1 billion to move most (90%) of the boats out of the harbor. When the postponement was announced, 635 of the boats had already been moved out.

Later, some of those boat owners asked if they could move their boats back to Enoshima. The yacht harbor said okay, upon the agreement that they would move out their boats again from Jan. 2021. This repeated moving costs would be borne by Kanagawa Prefecture which allotted ¥675 million for it.

By late July 2020, about 200 of the 578 sailing dinghies moved back to Enoshima. From Jan. to March 2021, boats at Enoshima Yacht Harbor were moved out again so the harbor can be prepared for the Olympics. Although it’s an inconvenience to boat owners, they have been cooperative and non-complaining. They are in favor of the Olympics and their boats’ moving expenses are being covered by the government.

Also see photos of EYH at the Japan Sailing Federation site:

Equestrian Park (EQP) (馬事公苑) – Dressage, Eventing, Show Jumping; Paralympic Equestrian

・Opened: 1940 ・Location: Near Sakura-shimmachi Station. ・Map ・Status: Closed to the public from 2017 to autumn 2023.

Legacy venue since it was used for equestrian competitions during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Operated by the JRA (Japan Racing Association) which conducts horse racing at horse racetracks in Japan.
Equestrian Park (Baji Koen) is closed for major renovations and plans to reopen in autumn 2023.

A: Pictograms at the entrance to Equestrian Park (Baji Koen in Setagaya).
B: The Olympic equestrian tradition is to have elaborate local-flavor decorations on the fences and obstacles for show jumping. For Tokyo 2020, they had many amusing Japanese elements such as cherry blossoms.
C: Paper umbrellas.
D: Sumo wrestler even. A few people thought the fake sumo wrestler spooked the horses on this jump.
E: Japanese folding fans. Other fences had kokeshi dolls, Tanabata streamers, and Himeji Castle.
F: Wall painting of Shizuoka Prefecture’s famous tea fields and Mt. Fuji. More photos of Tokyo 2020’s Japanese fences at World of Show Jumping.
G: Volunteer using a video camera to record dressage riders during their dressage tests for the dressage-only event. Footage is used for playback in case there are any queries about the judges’ scoring.
H: Irish rider Sam Watson and horse Danny and a volunteer.
Catriona Walsh (equestrian volunteer): “All the inconveniences that the pandemic visited upon athletes and volunteers alike were forgotten as the sport got underway. I forgot about all of this once I got to the venues which were stunning.”

Fuji Internatonal Speedway (FSW) (富士スピードウェイ) – Olympic/Paralympic Cycling Road Race

A: Finish line and grand stand. Olympic capacity was 22,000.
B: Japanese woman road cyclist Sugiura Keiko (C3) won gold in the Women’s C1-3 Time Trial on Aug. 31, 2021.

Scale model of Fuji Speedway.
Scale model of Fuji Speedway. Start/finish grandstand is toward the top center.

Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium (FAS) (福島あづま球場) – Baseball, softball

Ibaraki Kashima Stadium (IKS) (茨城カシマスタジアム) – Football/soccer

Ibaraki Kashima Stadium (Kashima Soccer Stadium) out in Kashima, Ibaraki Prefecture has a 40,000 capacity. Sadly, it was also empty during Olympic football here. A statue of superstar player Zico and a giant football are stadium trademarks (right photos). The stadium is home to pro soccer team Kashima Antlers where Zico played in the 1990s. Kashima Stadium is over 2 hours by train from central Tokyo.

International Stadium Yokohama (ISY) (横浜国際総合競技場) – Football/soccer

International Stadium Yokohama is one of Japan’s largest sports stadiums. Olympic capacity was 72,000. Normally, this stadium would be jam-packed. Photos show the Olympic men’s football/soccer gold medal match between Brazil and Spain on August 7, 2021. Brazil won the gold.

Izu MTB Course (IMB) (伊豆MTBコース) – Cycling (Mountain bike)

・Opened: June 1965 ・Location: Near Shuzenji Station (bus). ・Map ・Status: Reopened to the public from March 18, 2022.

Shuzenji has long been associated with pro cycling. Izu MTB Course was within the Japan Cycle Sports Center amusement park on the Izu Peninsula. The off-road course stretched 2,500 meters.

After Tokyo 2020, the MTB course was reverted back to normal use and the Cycle Sports Center reopened on March 18, 2022. The center also has cycling courses for kids, cycling monorail, unusual bicycles, putter golf course, and more. Izu Velodrome and pro bicycle racing (keirin) training facilities (Japan Institute of KEIRIN) are also in the park.

Izu Velodrome (IVD) (伊豆ベロドローム) – Olympic and Paralympic Track Cycling

・Opened: Oct. 2011 ・Location: Near Shuzenji Station (bus). ・Map ・Status: Open to the public.

Izu Velodrome
Izu Velodrome for Paralympic Track Cycling in Izu, Shizuoka Prefecture.

Izu Velodrome is unique in Japan for having a wooden cycling track (Siberian pine). Spectator seats are also close to the track for better enjoyment. To reduce venue construction costs, Izu Velodrome was selected for track cycling instead of building a velodrome in Tokyo. In Dec. 2015, it was approved for Olympic competition by the Union Cycliste Internationale (International Cycling Union).

Izu Velodrome was one of the few venues which allowed spectators during Tokyo 2020. It is within the Japan Cycle Sports Center amusement park on the Izu Peninsula. From March 18, 2022, the public can tour inside the facility.

Izu Velodrome for Paralympic Track Cycling in Izu, Shizuoka Prefecture. Photos show Women’s C5 3000m Individual Pursuit Qualifying on Aug.25, 2021. Photos: Fernando Yamauti.

Kasumigaseki Country Club (KCC) (霞ヶ関カンツリー倶楽部) – Golf

・Opened: 1929 ・Location: Near Kasahata Station. ・Map ・Status: Open to club members.

Opened in 1929 as Saitama Prefecture’s first golf course. Named after the former Kasumigaseki Village which later merged with the city of Kawagoe. Japan’s first international golf tournament (Canada Cup) was held here in 1957.

The venue for Olympic golf at Tokyo 2020 was initially proposed to be the smaller Wakasu Golf Links in Koto City, Tokyo.
Since Kasumigaseki Country Club had not allowed female members, the IOC urged it to allow female members which it did in March 2017 when it changed its membership rules.

Kokugikan Arena (KKG) (国技館) – Boxing

Kokugikan Arena boxing venue
Kokugikan Arena boxing venue. Portraits of champion sumo wrestlers can be seen.

Kokugikan Arena looked interesting with a boxing ring instead of a sumo ring. Large portraits of champion sumo wrestlers decorated the arena. Extreme right photo shows a practice ring.

Built in 1985, the Ryogoku Kokugikan is a modern, spacious, and well-designed sumo arena where three of the six Grand Sumo tournaments are held in January, May, and September. It is a sleek, modern building with a spacious interior. The roof collects rainwater for use in the toilets. There is also a sumo museum open during sumo tournaments.

Makuhari Messe Hall A (MMA) (幕張メッセ Aホール) – Wrestling, Taekwondo, Sitting Volleyball

Left: Makuhari Messe Hall A for Olympic Wrestling and Taekwondo. The roof ceiling is originally painted red. The columns are covered with Kurenai red Look of the Games.
Right: Map of Makuhari Messe for the Paralympics showing Halls A, B, and C. Hall A is the largest in a long, rectangular building. Hall B is the second largest building connected by an elevated walkway. Hall C is oval and looks like a turtle shell. Paralympic Taekwondo was in Hall B. (For the Olympics, taekwondo was held in Hall A.) (Click/tap image to enlarge.)

Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture is a large convention hall complex in the coastal Makuhari area of Chiba, the capital city of Chiba Prefecture. Along with Tokyo Big Sight, Makuhari Messe is one of Tokyo’s two biggest venues for trade shows.

Makuhari is a new and modern urban center on reclaimed land built up until 1980. The area saw major development from the latter 1980s with JR Kaihimmakuhari Station opening in 1986, Makuhari Messe opening in 1989, and Chiba Marine Stadium (baseball) opening in 1990. Makuhari now has office buildings, hotels, condos, and shopping malls. Wide streets, wide-open spaces, and artificial ocean beach.

For Tokyo 2020, Makuhari Messe had three separate Halls A, B, and C for multiple sports. The three halls are interconnected with walkways. Hall A is the largest building, and Hall B is the second largest building. Hall C is oval and looks like a turtle shell. This is the smallest building, and normally called Makuhari Event Hall. Venue for goalball.

Makuhari Messe Hall B (MMB) (幕張メッセ Bホール) – Fencing, Paralympic Taekwondo, Wheelchair Fencing

Miyagi Stadium (MIS) (宮城スタジアム) – Football/soccer

Musashino Forest Sport Plaza (MFS) (武蔵野の森総合スポーツプラザ) – Badminton, Modern pentathlon (épée fencing ranking round), wheelchair basketball

Musashinonomori Park (MUP) (武蔵野の森公園) – Cycling road race (start)

Nippon Budokan (NBK) (日本武道館) – Judo, Karate

・Opened: Oct. 1964 ・Location: Near Kudanshita Station. ・Map ・Status: Open to the public for events.

dokan for Olympic judo
Nippon Budokan for Olympic judo.

Legacy venue since it was built and used for judo during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Famous as the venue where The Beatles played in 1966.
The Budokan completed major renovations in late July 2020 for earthquake resistance and to install LED lighting, more wheelchair seating, and wheelchair accessible toilets.

The famous Nippon Budokan is a legacy venue originally built for judo at the Tokyo 1964 Olympics. It has since become an exalted venue for Japanese martial arts as well as for rock concerts starting with The Beatles in 1966. Major renovations were completed in late July 2020 for earthquake resistance and to install LED lighting, more wheelchair seating, and wheelchair accessible toilets. Photos show judo.

Odaiba Marine Park (OMP) (お台場海浜公園) – Olympic/Paralympic Triathlon, Marathon Swimming

・Opened: 1975 (Current form from 1996)・Location: Near Daiba, Odaiba Kaihin Koen, Tokyo Teleport, and Aomi Stations. ・Map ・Status: Triathlon and marathon swimming venues dismantled. Beach area reopened to the public on Jan. 1, 2022.

Odaiba Marine Park (OMP) in Feb. 2020
Odaiba Marine Park (OMP) in Feb. 2020. Olympic rings on the left.

Odaiba is a large waterfront area built on man-made islands. For many years, the area was a backwater with only the boat-shaped museum (now closed) and beginner windsurfers. The area developed rapidly after the opening of the Yurikamome train line and Rinkai Line in the mid-1990s. Odaiba has become one of Tokyo’s major tourist attractions with waterfront parks, beaches, large shopping malls, hotels, and wide-open spaces. It is a perfect place for a triathlon (when the ocean is clean).

Odaiba has an interesting history. Near the Rainbow Bridge, you can see two small, square man-made islands in Odaiba. They were hastily built in 1853 as military defense outposts by Japan’s waning samurai government to fight off any invasion of Tokyo by the US Navy (led by Commodore Perry) which came knocking on Japan’s door earlier that year. The naval invasion never came, and the outposts were never used in battle.

Odaiba Marine Park during the Paralympics. Agitos monument
Odaiba Marine Park (OMP) during the Paralympics. Agitos monument on the left, and triathlon and marathon swimming venue on the right. Rainbow Bridge in the background.

Odaiba is scenic with Rainbow Bridge and the Tokyo skyline in the background. Major sights include waterfront walking paths and beaches (closed during the Games), a Statue of Liberty replica, a giant Gundam statue, Miraikan science museum, and a giant ferris wheel.

Being close to many of the waterfront venues with public transportation, Odaiba was the hub of “Tokyo Bay Zone” venues. Odaiba was Tokyo’s closest thing to an Olympic Park. It’s no wonder that they installed the giant Olympic rings (or Agitos). The Olympic rings (or Agitos) lit up at 6:15 pm nightly until midnight. During the Games, they were lit up until 5 am.

A: Odaiba Marine Park (OMP) for triathlon and marathon swimming. The blue turf was where athletes rode their bicycles from the beach to the road. Look of the Games was pine green.
B: Statue of Liberty also fenced in at Odaiba Marine Park.
C: Triathlon cycling route near Diver City mall.
D: Olympic triathlon cyclists passing by Gundam (Diver City).
E: Olympic Triathlon cycling in Odaiba.
F: Fuji TV building is a major landmark. The lookout deck (admission charged) on the top floor has great views of the area.

G: 2020 Fan Park entrance. Pre-registration required for entry. Corporate pavilions (Omega, Eneos, etc.) in the park were for employees only.
H: In 2020 Fan Park, Tokyo 2020 official megastore with merchandise.
I: 2020 Fan Arena was a large interactive space for the public. Hands-on sports demonstrations. Only registered Tokyo residents could enter.

Shiokaze Park (beach volleyball venue) is a short walk away. A short train ride from Odaiba (Daiba, Odaiba Kaihin Koen, Tokyo Teleport, or Aomi Station) can take you to Tokyo Big Sight (media centre), Ariake Tennis Park, Ariake Urban Sports Park, Aomi Urban Sports Park, Ariake Arena, Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Tatsumi Water Polo Centre, and Yumenoshima Park Archery Field. The Olympic Village was also a stone’s throw away from Odaiba.

Two train lines serve Odaiba: JR Rinkai Line running from places like Shinjuku, and Yurikamome Line running between Shimbashi and Toyosu. The Yurikamome Line is quite scenic when crossing Rainbow Bridge overlooking Odaiba. Both train lines connect to major train and subway lines.

There are also local buses that go to Odaiba from rail stations like Tokyo Station, Monzen-Nakacho Station (Tozai subway line), and Oimachi and Omori Stations (Keihin-Tohoku Line).

Odaiba is on flat, reclaimed land, created mostly with seabed sediment dredged from Tokyo Bay to make the bay’s shipping lanes deeper. Before it saw major development from the 1990s, it was a popular place for windsurfers. Modern urban planning created wide open spaces, wide roads, and convenient public transportation.

Odaiba Marine Park was one of the few venues that benefited from the one-year postponement. It had more time to improve its water quality in the ocean more marathon swimming and the triathlon.

In August 2019 when Olympic and Paralympic test events were held in Odaiba, athletes complained about the foul-smelling ocean. The foul odor becomes especially apparent when the sludge on the ocean bottom is stirred up. Not only that, the murky water was found to have more than twice the acceptable level of E. coli bacteria, forcing the Paralympic triathlon test event’s swimming portion to be canceled. The summer heat was also a problem for a few athletes coming down with heat exhaustion. A triple whammy.

The problem with Odaiba is that it’s somewhat near a sewage treatment plant (Shibaura Water Reclamation Center near Shinagawa Station) whose effluent is discharged into the ocean that flows to Odaiba.

This sewage treatment plant receives sewage and rainwater runoff from a large area of central Tokyo. When there’s heavy rain, the plant does not have enough 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’s no rain, the sewage treatment plant is able to treat and cleanse all of the wastewater before discharging it into the ocean. So 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 has gone down and athletes swam in the water during the Games.

Oi Hockey Stadium (OHS) (大井ホッケー競技場) – Field Hockey

Oi Hockey Stadium has the North and South Pitches for the competition, one warm-up pitch, and one training pitch.
A: North Pitch.
B: South Pitch.
C: Netherlands women’s hockey team in orange doing their warm-up routine while wearing “cooling jackets.” They later won the gold medal.
D: German women’s hockey team doing warm-up exercises.

A: Women’s field hockey match between South Africa (white) and Netherlands (blue) on July 28, 2021.
B: South Africa women’s field hockey team timeout.
C: North Pitch stands.
D: The pitch has state-of-the-art, water-based, short-pile artificial turf. The turf is watered before hockey matches. (Photos by Regine Pocsatko.)
E: Volunteers removng rainwater from the pitch. (Photo by JCN.)

Olympic Stadium (OLS) (オリンピックスタジアム、国立競技場) – Athletics, Football/soccer

・Opened: Dec. 2019 ・Location: Near JR Sendagaya and Kokuritsu Kyogijo Station. ・Map ・Status: Reverting to National Stadium until end of March 2022, then it will be open to the public for events.

Olympic Stadium (Japan National Stadium) for athletics.

Olympic Stadium (Japan National Stadium) had Kurenai red look. Photos shows hurdles.
Right: Volunteers take away the runner number plates from the track. (Photos by Indira Bhawan.)

Owned by the Japanese government and officially named “Japan National Stadium” (国立競技場), the new Olympic Stadium replaced the old National Stadium that was used for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. It was built on the same spot as the old National Stadium. Due to some controversy over the initial design by Zaha Hadid, the construction was delayed and the stadium was not completed in time for Rugby World Cup 2019.

Hadid’s design was criticized for being too expensive and intrusive (70 meters high) for the surrounding area. She later scaled it down, but since she could not find any local construction companies to work with, she withdrew her bid.

Architect Kuma Kengo (who was one of the people opposing Hadid’s stadium design) won the bid and his stadium design theme was “Forest Stadium” (杜のスタジアム) with a relatively low profile. Lots of cedar lumber on the exterior. The wood came from all 47 prefectures and they point toward the place where they came from. With numerous 10-cm wide lumber spaced closely together, the wooden roof eaves were modeled after Japanese Buddhist temple roof eaves.

Empty stadium seats reveal the random mosaic pattern of seat colors in shades of green, brown, and white like fallen autumn leaves. It makes it look like there are spectators. (Maybe a premonition of a spectatorless Games.) The stadium is also wheelchair accessible with wheelchair spaces around the stands.

The fixed roof covers all of the spectator seats and also carries the crowd’s cheers, so we can hear the cheers quite well throughout the stadium.

The new National/Olympic Stadium opened to the public for the first time on on Dec. 21, 2019 with an opening event called “Hello, Our Stadium.” A three-hour evening of culture (Tohoku festivals), music (J-pop groups), and track runners (relay race by track stars including special guest Usain Bolt).

After the Games, the Olympic Stadium will revert back to being the National Stadium and be retrofitted for soccer/football and rugby. The new stadium uses natural grass turf and the track was made by an Italian company, reputed to be “fast” for runners. There was some debate over whether the track should be retained or not, but the track will likely be retained.

After a bidding process, a private company is to be selected to sign a concession agreement to manage the Olympic Stadium. Having a private company operate and manage the stadium aims to defray the high maintenance cost of the stadium estimated to be ¥2.4 billion/year for 50 years including repairs. This is over twice the old National Stadium’s annual maintenance cost of ¥1.1 billion.

The seating capacity supposed to be increased to 80,000. Not too many sports and concerts will need this much capacity. And if the number of spectators has to be limited for social distancing, it will reduce ticket revenue and profitability.

The government is also considering to sell naming rights to the stadium, so it might not be called the “National Stadium” (Kokuritsu kyōgijō) anymore.

On February 9, 2022, TMG approved a plan to redevelop the Jingu Gaien area around the National Stadium with high-rise offices and hotels and a new baseball stadium and rugby stadium. Over 1,000 trees would be cut down or transplanted and the old Jingu baseball stadium and Chichibu Rugby Stadium would be rebuilt anew. Buildings will tower as high as 190 meters in the sky. The greenery will be restored for the most part.

More photos of National Stadium here.

Saitama Stadium (SAS) (埼玉スタジアム2002) – Football/soccer

・Opened: Oct. 2001 ・Location: Near Urawa-Misono Station. ・Map ・Status: Open to the public for events.

Built mainly for soccer, Saitama Stadium was one of the venues for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Spectator seats are set close to the pitch. Home stadium for local soccer J-League team Urawa Red Diamonds. Capacity 63,700 including 150 wheelchair spaces.

Photos show an Olympic game between Brazil and Egypt on July 31, 2021.

Saitama Super Arena (SSA) (さいたまスーパーアリーナ) – Basketball

・Opened: Sept. 2000 ・Location: Near Saitama Shintoshin Station. ・Map ・Status: Open to the public for events.

a, men's Olympic basketball with Australia (yellow) vs. Germany
Saitama Super Arena, men’s Olympic basketball with Australia (yellow) vs. Germany.

Saitama Super Arena is unique for its ability to expand or shrink the seat capacity. There is a huge movable section of seats, and the ceiling can also move vertically to expose or hide the upper tier of seats. Popular and profitable venue for sports and concerts. Since 2018, it has served as the venue for major Japanese basketball championships. Olympic capacity was 21,000. Convenient location near Saitama Shintoshin Station.

Photos show men’s Olympic basketball game with Australia (yellow jersey) defeating Germany (red) on July 31, and Spain (white) and USA (blue) on Aug. 3. USA later won gold. (Photos by Indira Bhawan.)

Sapporo Dome (SDO) (札幌ドーム) – Football/soccer

Panoramic shot of Sapporo Dome field.

Sapporo Odori Park (SOP) (札幌大通公園) – Marathon, race walk

Sapporo’s most famous and popular park about 1.5 km long east to west with Sapporo TV Tower on one end. A real oasis in the city, especially during the warmer months with water fountains, flowers, green grass, and sunshine. Also the site of the annual Sapporo Snow Festival in Feb.

Sea Forest Cross-Country Course (SFC) (海の森クロスカントリーコース) – Equestrian (Eventing)

Sea Forest Cross-Country Course was a 4.4-km equestrian obstacle course, shortened from the usual 5,700m due to summer heat concerns. Photos by Catriona Walsh.
A: Mt. Fuji drop decorated with Mt. Fuji paintings, perhaps the most photographed obstacle on the course. (The horse leaped over this from behind.)
B: Sea Forest Cross-Country Course as seen from the Mt. Fuji drop.

Sea Forest Waterway (SFW) (海の森水上競技場) – Rowing, Canoe (Sprint), Paralympic Rowing/Canoe

Sea Forest Waterway from the finish line end
Sea Forest Waterway from the finish line end. Motor boats line this end. Spectator seating on the right. The start line is beyond the arch bridge in the distance. The course is 2,335 meters long.

A: View toward the finish line with Tokyo Gate Bridge in the background.
B: View toward the start line.
C: Main stand. Look of the Games was Pine Green.

Shiokaze Park (SHP) (潮風公園) – Beach Volleyball

Tatsumi Water Polo Centre (TWC) (東京辰巳国際水泳場) – Water Polo

・Opened: Aug. 1993 ・Location: Near Shin-Kiba and Tatsumi Stations. ・Map ・Status: Reopened on Oct. 1, 2021. Public swimming pool.

TWC) during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Tatsumi Water Polo Centre (TWC) during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Tatsumi Water Polo Centre (TWC) was the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center (東京辰巳国際水泳場) that was retrofitted for water polo at Tokyo 2020. Until the new Tokyo Aquatics Centre was completed, TWC was Tokyo’s main pool for major aquatics competitions.

Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center underwent major renovations from Nov. 2018 to March 2019. There was a minor controversy about the use of asbestos in the building, but it was deemed safe since people do not normally go to where there is asbestos.

A: TWC had a beautiful Indigo blue for the Look of the Games, including a large water polo pictogram. The stands on the left were temporary.
B: Main pool has a permanent grandstand with yellow seats. Seats on the left end were temporary, built over the empty diving pool.
C: Main pool as seen from one end.
D: Water polo match.
E: At the Olympics/Paralympics, accredited photographers must all wear a numbered photo vest issued by the organizer to enter the venue and access the photo positions. Those wearing a navy blue vest were from major news agencies and were given priority. Some photo positions also provide Internet cabling for photographers to connect their cameras and transmit their photos in real time to their editors.
F: Men’s water polo medalists on the podium. Serbia (Gold), Greece (Silver), and Hungary (Bronze).

G: Warm-up pool (temporary structure) was outside next to Tatsumi Water Polo Centre.
H: Cool-down pool was in the basement near the main pool.
I: Rear view of the temporary spectator stand covering the diving pool. Diving platforms on the right.
J: Briefing for Press Operations volunteers who would help at the victory/medals ceremonies.
K: Press conference for men’s water polo medalists.
L: Large water polo pictogram on a concrete wall.

Tatsumi Water Polo Centre and the new Tokyo Aquatics Centre (TAC) are on reclaimed land on Tokyo’s waterfront full of artificial islands. Major portions of Tokyo are reclaimed land built over the centuries. (Odaiba, the Olympic Village, and Tokyo Big Sight are also on reclaimed land.)

Tatsumi Water Polo Centre (TWC) is on an artificial island named “Tatsumi” (辰巳). It was built and developed in the 1960s and 1970s. “Tatsumi” means “Southeast.” It was the nickname of the neighboring district called “Fukagawa” which was southeast of the shogun’s Edo Castle (now Imperial Palace). Fukagawa is in the area of Monzen-Nakacho Station on the Tozai subway line, and Tatsumi is considered to be part of the Fukagawa district. Much of Tatsumi island is a public park and both TWC and TAC are in the Tatsunomori Seaside Park. South of TWC is also a green belt park noted for many cherry blossoms in spring.

Another notable area next to Tatsumi is Shin-Kiba which means “New Lumberyard.” It is also on reclaimed land and the waterfront keeps floating logs made into lumber. In the old days, Kiba spawned the skill of log rolling (kakunori) used to move logs on the water. It’s now a local traditional performing art.

Tokyo Aquatics Centre (TAC) (東京アクアティクスセンター) – Swimming, Artistic Swimming, Diving, Paralympic Swimming

Tokyo Aquatics Centre (TAC) is a new venue built for Tokyo 2020. The building’s construction started with four pillars and the roof. The roof was first constructed on site, then it was lifted up. Great feat of engineering. This made the construction faster, cheaper, and easier because they could work regardless of the weather.

Video of roof construction:
Video of pool construction:

Main pool is 50m long, 25m wide. The main pool’s floor can move up and down to change the pool’s depth. It can also be partitioned into two smaller pools with 25m length.

Diving pool is 25m square and 5m deep. Diving pool has diving platforms at five different heights. Highest one is 10 meters. All pool specifications conform to Olympic and international standards.

Tokyo Aquatics Centre (TAC) was in Indigo blue. Photos show Olympic competitive swimming on July 26, 2021. Photos by Indira Bhawan.

Large aquatics PR posters in Tatsumi Station (Yurakucho Line) near the aquatics venues. Swimming, artistic swimming (Inui Yukiko), and water polo.

Tokyo International Forum (TIF) (東京国際フォーラム) – Weightlifting, Paralympic Powerlifting

Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium (TGY) (東京体育館) – Olympic/Paralympic Table Tennis

Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium had four tables for table tennis preliminaries during the Olympics. Very red venue.

The original Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium was built here in 1954 and used for gymnastics and water polo during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. In 1990, the aging gymnasium was rebuilt and redesigned by the same architect who designed Makuhari Messe in Chiba (taekwondo). It also saw major renovations for Tokyo 2020. Capacity was 7,000 for Olympics and 6,500 for Paralympics.

The greatest thing about Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium (Tokyo Taiikukan) is that it’s right in front of JR Sendagaya Station and Kokuritsu Kyogijo subway station. It’s also right next to the Olympic Stadium.

Tokyo Stadium (TOS) (東京スタジアム) – Football, Modern Pentathlon

Tokyo Stadium
Tokyo Stadium (TOS) (Ajinomoto Stadium) had a temporary swimming pool (left), equestrian obstacle course, and shooting range on the field for Modern Pentathlon. Olympic capacity was 48,000.

Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach (TSB) (釣ヶ崎海岸サーフィンビーチ) – Surfing

・Opened: 1950s ・Location: Near Kazusa-Ichinomiya Station. ・Map ・Status: Open to the public.

Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach is the Olympics’ first venue for surfing, a new Olympic sport. Where Carissa Moore from Hawaiʻi won the women’s gold medal. Among local surfers, the beach’s local nickname is “Shidashita” (志田下) named after a beach rest house operated by the Shida family during the summer from 1958 to 1985. Popular spot for surfing with good waves almost year-round.

As indicated by the torii, Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach is a sacred site for nearby Tamasaki Shrine dedicated to the goddess Tamayori-hime (daughter of the sea-dragon god). Tsurigasaki was where the goddess first came ashore. She is celebrated every year with a festival in September.

A: Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach (TSB) seems to have a blue ocean after all, when it’s sunny (not the usual murky green/brown).
B: Tsurigasaki’s landmark torii belongs to nearby Tamasaki Shrine.
C: The nearest train station (Kazusa-Ichinomiya Station) has surfboard seats in the waiting room on the train platform. (Photos above by Emi Quoota.)
D: Once a year, divine relatives of goddess Tamayori-hime gather here. This gathering is reenacted by the Kazusa Junisha Matsuri Festival (上総十二社祭り) held annually on September 13 on Tsurigasaki Beach. Several god-occupied mikoshi portable shrines gather at Tsurigasaki Beach and go into the water. Festival is nicknamed “Hadaka Matsuri” (nude festival) because of the people’s skimpy clothing. (Nobody is really nude.)
E: Each portable shrine is carried into the ocean. Lots of jostling, shouting, and the portable shrine is even thrown into the air (and caught).
F: After leaving the ocean, the portable shrines pass through the torii. Sadly, the festival was canceled in 2021.

When the Games were postponed, Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach already had 70% of Olympics-related construction completed. They included prefab buildings for surfers, staff, and the press. Since prefab structures might not endure the typhoon season, a few were boarded up. Further construction (three months worth) were suspended until they restarted in 2021.

Ichinomiya is rural and normally teeming with surfers patronizing surf shops and restaurants. During April and May 2020 when people were urged to stay home, the local economy was hit hard with beaches closed to surfers. The postponement was also psychologically hard on the local people after the town had been preparing for surfing to be held for the first time at an Olympics.

Yokohama Baseball Stadium (YBS) (横浜スタジアム) – Baseball, softball

Yoyogi National Stadium (YNS) (国立代々木競技場) – Handball, Paralympic Badminton, Wheelchair Rugby

Yoyogi National Stadium

Along with the Budokan (posted earlier), the Yoyogi National Stadium (YNS) is another iconic venue for its striking design. Designed by Kenzo Tange, it’s one of Japan’s most famous modern buildings. Legacy venue originally built for swimming and diving (plus basketball in the smaller gym) at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

The building looks like it’s in motion, twirling like a rhythmic gymnast or ballerina. Famous for the suspension roof using the same principle as suspension bridges. In August 2021, the building became a National Important Cultural Property.

The entrance plaza originally had all cobblestones, but to improve accessbility, there’s now a smooth stone path through the cobblestones for wheelchairs. There’s also a ramp for wheelchairs.
In 2010-2011, the roof was repainted for the first time, so it doesn’t look old. In 2017-2018, the building was retrofitted for earthquake resistance. This building is also Japan’s first to use hydraulic dampers to reduce the roof/ceiling shaking from earthquakes and typhoons.

Convenient location, near JR Harajuku Station and Meiji-jingumae subway station. It’s also near Harajuku (Takeshita-dori), Omotesando, Meiji Shrine, and Yoyogi Park. Short train ride from places like Shinjuku and Shibuya.

Photos show an Olympic men’s handball match between Sweden and Portugal. Inside, the suspension roof enables an interior with no pillars obstructing the spectators’ view. Capacity for Tokyo 2020 is about 10,200.

From Harajuku Station on the way to Yoyogi National Gymnasium, there’s this “Olympic Bridge” (Gorin-bashi 五輪橋). The bridge pillar on both ends of the bridge has a blue globe on top. This bridge was redesigned this way in 1993, not 1964. The Olympic Bridge wall has relief sculptures of Olympic sports.

Yumenoshima Park Archery Field (YAF) (夢の島公園アーチェリー場) – Olympic/Paralympic Archery

Yumenoshima Park Archery Field Someity

Yumenoshima is one of Tokyo’s many artificial islands built with landfill. “Yumenoshima” can mean, “Island of Dreams Come True.” There were two archery fields: Ranking Round Field (aka Training Field) (permanent venue) and the beautiful Final Field (temporary venue) both in Wisteria Purple. Most of the competition was held on the Final Field. Photo shows the Final Field with staff and volunteers posing with visiting Paralympic mascot Someity in rain gear.

Aug. 27, 2021: Paralympic archers compete in the Ranking Round at Yumenoshima Park Archery Field’s Ranking Field (permanent venue). This field was originally a bowl-shaped grassy lawn.
YAF FInal Field
Aug. 28, 2021: The beautiful Final Field in Wisteria Purple during competition as seen from the top of the East Stand. South Stand is on the left (including the press tribune), West Stand is across the field sporting a checkered pattern, and targets are on the right end.

Left: Some of the Press Operations (PRS) volunteers undergo first-day training at the Venue Media Centre (VMC), followed by a tour of the venue (right). Spectator seats in the background (West Stand) sport a purple checkered pattern reminiscent of the official emblem’s ichimatsu moyo.

Training was conducted by the Venue Media Manager (VMM) and Venue Photo Manager (VPM). Some volunteers and staff were carryovers from Olympic archery to make Paralympic operations smoother.

Paralympic archery competition on the Final Field at sunset. Target is on the far end.
Paralympic archery competition on the Yumenoshima Final Field at sunset. Target is on the far end.

A: South Stand on the left, as seen from the East Stand. Athletes competed in front of the South Stand.
B: Yumenoshima Final Field as seen from the South Stand. Targets straight ahead. The brown boxes on both sides are hides for camera operators and photographers. They were very hot inside under the sun.
C: At the Final Field, Japanese press photographers focus on Japanese archers. They also had the option to use the box-like hides seen on the left.

G: Matthew Stutzman aka “Armless Archer” in Men’s Individual Compound – Open 1/16 Elimination on Aug. 28, 2021.
H: Japanese Para archer Okazaki Aiko in Women’s Individual – W1 Quarterfinal on Sept. 1, 2021. 岡崎 愛子
I: Women’s Individual Recurve – Open medalists on the Victory Ceremony medals podium.
L-R: Silver medalist PETRILLI Vincenza from Italy, Gold medalist NEMATI Zahra from Iran (her third consecutive gold medal), and Bronze medalist WU Chunyan from China on a rainy Sept. 2, 2021.

Yumenoshima Park's Archery Final Field before (Aug. 2021) and after (April 2022)
Yumenoshima Park’s Archery Final Field before (Aug. 2021) and after (April 2022). Running track oval and lawn have been restored. Open to the public. Simple spectator seating also provided.

Flower Lane Project (フラワーレーンプロジェクト)

Flower Lane Project had all the Olympic venues decorated with potted morning glories grown by local school children. They were placed where athletes would pass by. Each morning glory plant had an encouraging message for athletes handwritten by the children (right photo).

About 33,000 school children at 300–400 local elementary schools participated in the Flower Lane Project to grow and present 40,000 potted morning glories. Turns out that the flowers saved some money by being used as fences to direct crowds. It was another way to get as many people as possible involved in the Games.

Volunteers and staff at a few venues like Saitama Super Arena and Sea Forest Waterway even wrote reply messages and attached them to the potted flowers which were returned to the schools after the Olympics.

Signs of Support

All venues had a white bulletin board for Field Cast Games volunteers. They were quite creative.
A: Message board at Equestrian Park.
B: Board at Tatsumi Water Polo Centre‘s Field Cast Rest Area had drawings of the Water Polo Centre and Aquatics Centre. It urged people to drink water to prevent heat illness.
C: Welcome board at Oi Hockey Stadium’s volunteer check-in counter. “Have your accreditation card ready.”
D: Board at Makuhari Messe Hall A mentioning Japanese medalists.
E: Board at Ariake Urban Sports Park with sponsors labeled on a skateboarder.
F: Origami cranes were also common at venues. Sometimes volunteers had nothing to do, so they made origami. This is the Help Desk at Tatsumi Water Polo Centre.

Tokyo Big Sight (東京ビッグサイト) – International Broadcast Centre (IBC), Media Press Centre (MPC)

Tokyo Big Sight housing the IBC and MOC.
At the center of Tokyo Big Sight is the distinctive Conference Tower with meeting rooms and the Main Press Conference Room. The PSA (Pedestrian Screening Area) was toward the right of the tower.

Normally used for large trade shows, Tokyo Big Sight was Tokyo 2020’s media headquarters for TV broadcasters, accredited journalists, and press photographers. It housed the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) and Media Press Centre (MPC).

The International Broadcast Centre (IBC) was in the East Halls, and Media Press Centre (MPC) in the West Halls. The International Broadcast Centre had TV studios and interview spaces mainly occupied by OBS (Olympic Broadcasting Services) which filmed all the events.

Media Press Centre had large workrooms for journalists and photographers (capacity 700), private offices for media companies, and press conference rooms. The MPC was managed by Press Operations (PRS) which also had an office on site. Since the number of media members was significantly cut back, Tokyo Big Sight was not as busy as originally expected.

At the MPC, the IOC held a total of 24 press conferences during the Olympics, and the IPC held 18 press conferences during the Paralympics. They covered topics such as the summer heat, coronavirus, fan engagement, volunteers, athletes’ mental health, and accessibility.

Tokyo Big Sight was not open to the public. Open only to accredited media members, athletes requested for interviews or press conferences, and supporting staff/volunteers. When Tokyo 2020 was postponed, getting Tokyo Big Sight for 2021 was a major sticking point since it had already booked 100 trade shows from Oct. 2020 to autumn 2021.

A: MPC signage on the Conference Tower.
B: Main entrance hall with Tokyo 2020 banners in indigo. Named “High Street” during the Games like a town’s main street with a general store and eateries. The East Halls (IBC) are toward the left, and West Halls (MPC) on the right.
C: Corridor to IBC. Storefront of the small Tokyo 2020 Official store can also be seen.
D: Concession stand by Coca-Cola on High Street.
E: Field Cast Dining and Rest Area. Very large room.
F: Main Press Conference Room (Conference Tower 7th floor, capacity 700, simultaneous interpreting provided).
G: Main Press Centre Atrium. Help Desk was here.
H: Press/photo workroom for 700. Equipped with Internet cables and power outlets. Canon and Nikon also provided equipment rentals and repairs.
I: Photo lockers available for free in the Photo workroom. Same type of lockers also provided at all the Venue Media Centres at each venue.

Venue Media Centre (VMC)

Since each venue has accredited journalists and press photographers covering the events, each venue has a comfortable, air-conditioned facility called the Venue Media Centre (VMC) where media members can work or rest while at the venue. The VMC has a large work room with tables equipped with Internet LAN cables and power outlets for journalists and photographers to file their stories or photos. At Tokyo 2020, plexiglass and sanitizing wipes were also provided.

The VMC includes a press conference room which may be in the work room or in a separate room. For photographers, a daily photo briefing is also held in the VMC. Whatever assistance photographers and journalists need, the VMC staff is here to help. The VMC is like a smaller version of the MPC (Media Press Centre) at Tokyo Big Sight.

The VMC also has a Help Desk to assist the media with essential information (competition schedules, transport schedules and directions, etc.) and a concession stand (operated by Games sponsor Coca-Cola) providing bottled water, hot coffee, bananas, and simple sandwiches for free to the media. (More substantial light meals and cold soft drinks available for sale.) Free lockers were also provided.

The VMC is run by the Press Operations (PRS) department staffed by the Venue Media Manager (VMM), Venue Photo Manager (VPM), supervisors, and Games volunteers. Busier venues may also have Deputy Managers.

A: Exterior of the Venue Media Centre at the Yumenoshima archery venue. Temporary “tent construction” building commonly used at venues. With strong winds, the tent covering would ripple and make noise. If there was a typhoon, it would have to be dismantled. Luckily, no typhoons struck Tokyo 2020. In the foreground is the Mixed Zone where the media can conduct short interviews with athletes.
B: Media people working inside the VMC which can also be a press conference room. (Photo shows only half of the VMC.)
C: VMC workroom at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. (Still being readied.)
D: VMC workroom at Ariake Tennis Park.
E: Press Conference Room at Ariake Tennis Park.
F: Inside the VMC, notice board for photographers. Venue map of photo positions, media bus schedule, etc.
G: Photo briefing by the Venue Photo Manager in the VMC for photographers. The basic rules for shooting are explained. All accredited photographers must wear an official photo vest to enter the venue. Each vest has an ID number. At Tokyo 2020, a navy blue vest was worn by photographers from the biggest media agencies. They get better shooting positions. Photographers wearing a khaki vest are general photographers.
H: Press conference in the VMC at the water polo venue. In foreground is the platform for TV/video cameras. Press conferences are managed and emceed by the Venue Media Manager.

City Dressing

A: In Asakusa, from March 18, 2020, the Asahi Beer head office building had Tokyo 2020 emblems in Sakura pink to match the riverside cherry blossoms. The building supposed to resemble a glass of beer with yellow sides and foam on top. Photo by Fernando Yamauti.
B: PR banners in the traditional Japanese colors on a Toyosu Market building. Kurenai red, Sakura pink, Wisteria purple, Indigo blue, and Pine green. Photo by U.T.
C: Emblems on the Shin-Kiba Center Building in front of Shin-Kiba Station (near aquatics centre and water polo centre) in spring (cherry blossoms).
D: Team Japan‘s color (sunrise red) on the Fuji TV building steps in Odaiba.
E: ASICS Japan Headquarters in Koto City. ASICS was Team Japan’s official apparel maker. It also made the uniform for volunteers/staff and several Team Japan sports teams.
F: Koto City Hall displays a banner congratulating local son Horigome Yuto for winning the gold medal for street skateboarding.
G: Taxi in front of Tokyo Station.
H: Kokugikan banner at JR Kinshicho Station bus stop.
I: Blue banner at JR Kinshicho Station.

Train/Subway Station Look

G: Tatsumi Station (near aquatics venues).
H: Escalator in red at Shin-Kiba Station (near aquatics venues).
I: Ariake Tennis-no-Mori Station platform.
J: Street banner near Shin-Kiba Station, looking toward Yumenoshima.
K: Pillars near Shin-Kiba Station entrance.
L: Shin-Kiba Station entrance.

Tokyo 2020 Official Shops

Tokyo 2020 Official Online Shop opened in June 2016 while 67 physical shops started opening from July 2018 nationwide. They sold merchandise from 128 licensed companies and stocked a record 7,871 licensed products. Official shops operated until autumn 2021.

All sales of licensed Tokyo 2020 merchandise by other vendors (ASICS, etc.) also stopped by the end of 2021 when the product licensing contract with the IOC expired.

Tokyo 2020 pins and key chains sold by Tokyo 2020 Official Shops
A few of the many Tokyo 2020 pins and key chains sold by Tokyo 2020 Official Shops.


August 2, 2021: Yoyogi National Stadium is designated as a National Important Cultural Property. The distinctive building was designed by Tange Kenzo for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics as the swimming venue. The building looks like it’s in motion, twirling like a rhythmic gymnast or ballerina. Famous for the suspension roof using the same principle as suspension bridges.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic pins
Tokyo 2020 Olympic pins. (Not for sale/trade.)

The entrance plaza originally had all cobblestones, but to improve accessbility, there’s now a smooth stone path through the cobblestones for wheelchairs. In 2017-2018, the building was retrofitted for earthquake resistance. The building is also Japan’s first to use hydraulic dampers to reduce the roof/ceiling shaking from earthquakes and typhoons.

August 5, 2021: Japan and Tokyo see record numbers of COVID-19 cases, reaching as high as 5,042 cases this day. With the Olympics having no spectators, TOCOG denies the Games as the cause of the surge.

🍀August 5, 2021: Field Cast Office sends an email to volunteers saying that volunteers are not allowed to spectate when off duty. (This policy changes for the Paralympics where volunteers were allowed to spectate in the venue’s designated area.)

Japan reaps a record 58 Olympic medals, including 27 gold medals, its most ever. Followed by 14 silver and 17 bronze medals. Japan’s medal count is Tokyo 2020’s third highest, only behind the US and China.

USA women's water polo team win their third straight Olympic gold medal at Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 7, 2021. Tatsumi Water Polo Centre.
Aug. 7, 2021: USA women’s water polo team win their third straight Olympic gold medal at Tokyo 2020, Tatsumi Water Polo Centre.

Tokyo 2020 Victory Bouquets given to medalists have a special edition of the official mascots in gold (center), silver, or bronze and fresh flowers from Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate Prefectures where the giant earthquake and tsunami hit the coastal areas in March 2011. Green aspidistras (dark green) from Tokyo are also included in all the bouquets. *Flowers from Fukushima are perfectly safe and have no radiation.

Left: Olympic Victory Bouquets have eustomas (light green) from Fukushima, sunflowers from Miyagi, gentians (dark blue) from Iwate, and Solomon’s seals from Fukushima.
Right: Paralympic Victory Bouquets have eustomas from Fukushima, red roses from Miyagi, and gentians from Iwate.

🔴 August 8, 2021: Tokyo 2020 Olympics Closing Ceremony is held at the Olympic Stadium with 4,500 athletes and no spectators. To cut costs and simplify the ceremony, the number of performers is cut to one-fourth the original number, from 800 to 200. The NHK television audience for the live broadcast of the Closing Ceremony peaks at 46.7 percent of viewers in Tokyo.

🍀Japanese media publishes many articles praising Olympic athletes and volunteers. The pre-Games negativity in the mass media disappears as if it were nothing. No apologies, no congratulations, and no compliments from the prominent Japanese CEOs, doctors, politicians, etc., who spread negativity and panic before the Games.

With spectators banned in the Tokyo area, Tokyo 2020 Olympics saw a total of only 43,000 spectators at venues allowing spectators in Miyagi, Ibaraki, and Shizuoka Prefectures.

Team Japan at the Olympic Village attend an Orientation before boarding buses to the Olympic Closing Ceremony in Aug. 9, 2021.

August 9, 2021: IOC President Thomas Bach, with a security detail, is spotted taking a stroll in Tokyo’s Ginza district despite coronavirus restrictions imposed on athletes and officials.

Luggage going home with athletes at the Olympic Village.
Luggage and athletes leaving the Olympic Village.

August 10, 2021: TMG announces that the Tokyo Paralympic torch relay is to be taken off Tokyo’s public roads during August 20–24. The planned 700 torch bearers will instead gather at a celebration venue and pass on the flame in a “torch kiss” event.

August 11, 2021: Olympic Village in Harumi closes.

August 11, 2021: After serving as one of the most photographed edifices and background scenes of Tokyo 2020, the giant Olympic rings (15 meters high) on a floating barge at Odaiba Marine Park are towed away to Yokohama to be scrapped for recycling.

August 12–24, 2021: The Tokyo Paralympic torch relay is held with a total of 1,070 torch bearers. Lighting ceremony is held in all 47 prefectures, and a torch relay or lighting ceremony is held in the four prefectures (Shizuoka, Chiba, Saitama, Tokyo) having Paralympic venues.

🔴 August 16, 2021: Public opinion poll by Kyodo News shows that 62.9 percent of respondents thought it was good to hold the Olympics and 30.8 percent thought it was not good.

🔴 August 16, 2021: After a meeting between the five organizers, they sadly announce that the Tokyo Paralympics would be held without spectators due to the spike in Covid infections in Japan. No one is surprised by the announcement.

The only exception would be students who would be allowed to spectate at Paralympic venues as part of a government-backed educational program. Tokyo Governor Koike acknowledged the educational value for school kids to watch Paralympic athletes. It still makes many schools and parents anxious over the program, especially when two teachers who took students to see goalball on August 25 later tested positive for Covid.

In the end, only 15,300 students visited Paralympic venues as spectators, a lot less than originally planned.

August 19, 2021: The Japanese Olympic Committee is reported to have paid ¥200 million in legal fees for three years until fiscal 2020 for its former president Takeda Tsunekazu being investigated for bribery charges by French authorities. The JOC will keep paying Takeda’s lega fees until the investigation ends. The money is not coming from taxpayers (central government subsidies).

Back in March 2019, the JOC board passed a resolution to bear Takeda’s legal fees.

Tokyo 2020 Paralympics: August 24–September 5, 2021

August 17, 2021: Paralympic Village in Harumi opens.

August 20, 2021: The giant Paralympic Agitos logo (17.5 meters high) on a floating barge is installed at Odaiba Marine Park. Lit up in white in the evenings.

🔴 August 24, 2021: Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Opening Ceremony is held with 3,400 athletes and no spectators at the Olympic Stadium. Average viewership in the Kanto region is 23.8 percent of all households.

🔴 August 24–September 5, 2021: The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics is held with a record 4,403 athletes from 163 NOCs (including a refugee team) competing in 539 events across 22 sports. Japan’s Paralympic team is the biggest ever with over 250 athletes. For gender equality at Tokyo 2020, a record 42 percent of Paralympic athletes are female.

During the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, new world records are set in 153 events in six Paralympic sports.

The number of Tokyo Paralympics participants from overseas is reduced to one-third the original number, from 36,000 to 10,000 people.

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic pins
Tokyo 2020 Paralympic pins. (Not for sale/trade.)

Paralympic Family: 300
NPC (National Paralympic Committees, including Para athletes): 4,800 (Final count 4,403)
IFs (International sports federations): 800
OBS (Olympic Broadcasting Services): 2,200
Press: 500
Others: 1,200
Approx. total from overseas: 10,000

🍀 Athletes and staff/volunteers working near athletes are tested daily for Covid. Other volunteers and staff are tested at least every four days for Covid with saliva samples.

🍀Total 24,514 Games volunteers work during the Paralympics, including 5,216 volunteers who also worked at the Olympics. Some volunteers assigned to Event Services (EVS) to take care of spectators are reassigned to other roles.

Hot weather persists during the first half of the Paralympics in central Tokyo, followed by cool, rainy days. No typhoons.

Rubber slippers Tokyo 2020 Paralympics
Rubber slippers with Paralympic pictograms.

During the Paralympics (August 25–September 5), heat illness befell on 34 Para athletes (3 taken by ambulance, no hospitalizations) and 18 staff (1 taken by ambulance).

With normal spectators banned, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics saw a total of only 15,700 spectators who were all students participating in a government-backed education program in Tokyo, Saitama, and Chiba Prefectures.

August 25, 2021: In Chiba city, six Kaizuka Junior High School teachers take 55 students to see goalball at Makuhari Messe. Two of the teachers later test positive for Covid. Their students are not infected. The news spooks other schools and parents who cancel their school trips to see the Paralympics. Although Chiba city planned to continue the Paralympic spectator program for elementary school children, Chiba Prefecture later withdrew its high school students from the program on August 30.

August 26, 2021: At the Paralympic Village, an e-Palette self-driving vehicle transporting athletes within the village hit a visually-impaired Japanese judoka, Kitazono Aramitsu, who suffered injuries forcing him to withdraw from competition. The collision occurred when the vehicle was already braking to stop for the judoka, but hit him before coming to a complete stop. The e-Palette vehicle operation is suspended until August 31 when an accident investigation is completed and safety measures are reinforced.

August 29, 2021: IOC announces that former IOC President Jacques Rogge passed away at age 79. On September 7, 2013 at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires, it was Rogge who held up the iconic sign announcing “Tokyo” winning the bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in a final vote against Istanbul.

Paralympic Flame at Yume-no-Ohashi Bridge

It burns in a smaller version of the cauldron lit in the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony.

With City Cast volunteers holding signs to remind onlookers to follow Covid safety measures, the Paralympic flame is surrounded by a fence. The first Olympic/Paralympic in Games history to be fueled by hydrogen instead of propane in past Games. Since a hydrogen-burning flame is colorless, sodium carbonate was added to the hydrogen gas to create an orange-yellow flame.


September 3, 2021: Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide announces his intention to resign and not seek reelection, saying he would rather focus on resolving Covid-19. His term ends on September 30, 2021 as he was serving predecessor Abe Shinzo’s remaining term. Suga’s public approval ratings sink to a record low of 30.4 percent in August.

🔴 September 5, 2021: Tokyo 2020 Paralympics officially ends with the Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium with 2,000 athletes and no spectators.

Japan fielded 254 Para athletes and won a total of 51 Paralympic medals with 13 gold, 15 silver, and 23 bronze, for 11th place in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic medal standings.

Repair centres at 14 venues and the Paralympic Village saw a total of 2,083 repair requests (for wheelchairs, etc.) during August 15 to September 9, 2021.

Typical scene of City Cast volunteers waving goodbye to athletes or staff.
Typical scene of City Cast volunteers waving goodbye to athletes or staff (Asaka Shooting Range).

🔴 September 5, 2021: Public opinion poll by Kyodo News shows that 69.8 percent of respondents thought it was good to hold the Paralympics and 26.3 percent thought it was not good.

Tokyo 2020 Games (Field Cast) Volunteers Statistics

Visit Japan again.
Olympic Village volunteer with a universal message.

🍀 Total Tokyo 2020 Games (Field Cast) volunteer applicants: 204,680 people in Japan and overseas. About 73,684 of the applicants are foreign nationals, and about 130,996 are Japanese.

Number of Games volunteer applicants selected: About 80,421.

Number of foreign national Games volunteers selected: About 9,651

Number of overseas Games volunteers: 2,300 (later reduced to 500)

Number of Games volunteers activated: 70,970 (51,672 Olympic volunteers and 24,514 Paralympic volunteers, including 5,216 volunteers who worked at both.)

Number of Games volunteers who quit: About 10,000 mostly due to Covid fears.

Age range: Biggest was 20s with 17,354 volunteers, followed by 50s with 16,815, and 40s 11,972. Age 18-19 were 2,112. Three volunteers were in their 90s, and 139 in their 80s.

Swatch watch for volunteers by lottery
Swatch watch for volunteers by lottery.

Gender: 29,677 males, 41,289 females, and 4 neither.

Nationality: 7,092 foreigners (11%) and 63,878 Japanese.

Volunteer Role Assignments (total 70,970):
Guidance (Event Services or EVS): 16,710
Competition Events (SPT, etc.): 17,778
Mobility Support (driving, etc.): 5,393
Personal Support: 10,463
Operational Support: 7,493
Healthcare: 7,221
Technology (TEC, etc.): 1,831
Media (PRS): 3,022
Ceremonies (CER): 1,059
*Note that since EVS volunteers lost their roles due to no spectators, many were reassigned to other roles.

🍀 Tokyo 2020 City (City Cast) volunteers: A total of 30,000 city volunteers were originally recruited. However, only 15,698 remained to work at the Olympics and/or the Paralympics. People dropped out mainly due to COVID-19 fears and the banning of overseas visitors and all spectators.

Volunteers received pins when they worked a certain number of days. Gold, silver, and bronze pins
Tokyo 2020 Field Cast pins.

Volunteers received a Field Cast pin every few days of working. After working three days, a bronze pin (extreme right). After 5 days, a silver pin. Then a gold pin after 6 days. But not all volunteers could work as many days as they wanted. “Thank you” pin given on the last day.

Personal message from an equestrian volunteer. Typical sentiment of many volunteers.

September 6, 2021: At a press conference, TOCOG President Hashimoto Seiko states that she is proud that Japan hosted the Olympics and Paralympics despite the pandemic. She expresses her thanks to everyone. She also mentions that she is willing to head the organising committee if Sapporo wins the bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics.

September 6, 2021: The giant Paralympic Agitos logo on a floating barge is removed from Odaiba Marine Park to be scrapped and recycled in Yokohama.

September 7–13, 2021: Tokyo 2020 ticket holders are able to download a PDF version of their unusable tickets. In Japan, those who paid for tickets with a VISA credit card would receive a credit on the card. Those who paid in cash would need to have a bank account to receive the refund during October 1–12, 2021.

September 8, 2021: Paralympic Village in Harumi closes.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics Health Threat Evaluation

🔴 🍀September 8, 2021: TOCOG reports that 323 coronavirus infections (80 foreigners and 243 Japan-based staff) were recorded during the Tokyo Paralympics. Only 13 Para athletes (out of 4,403), 11 volunteers (out of 24,514), 14 TOCOG members, 18 media people, 54 coaches and games officials, and 7 overseas staff at pre-games training camps got infected. The remaining 236 infections were operations staff living in Japan. Only 17 of the infected were Para athletes’ village residents. Only three were hospitalized and soon discharged. No serious cases and no deaths. Covid safety measures effectively prevented Tokyo 2020 from becoming the Covid super spreader imagined by many people.

Tube for COVID-19 saliva test
Tube for COVID-19 saliva test.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

  • No COVID-19 clusters within Tokyo 2020 during the Games.
  • No evidence of Tokyo 2020 people spreading the virus into the general population.
  • No serious COVID-19 cases and no deaths.
  • Among the 54,250 Tokyo 2020 people arriving from overseas, only 261 tested positive for COVID-19. They include 157 who tested positive within two weeks after arriving in Japan. Six were hospitalized, no serious cases.
  • Of the 1,014,170 tests conducted on all Tokyo 2020 athletes and staff (including Japan-based staff), only 299 positive cases (0.03%) were found. Volunteers and staff were tested (saliva) every seven or four days.
  • Among Tokyo 2020 people from overseas who tested positive, no more than two were hospitalized at the same time and no more than 49 stayed at a COVD-19 recovery facility (designated hotel) at the same time.
  • During the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, 174 foreigner participants and 373 Japan-based participants tested positive for COVID-19. Only two were hospitalized and soon discharged.
  • The COVID-19 positive rate among Games participants from July 1, 2021 to the end of the Olympics was an extremely low 0.02 percent.

Summer Heat

  • During the Olympics, 117 athletes and 97 staff suffered from heat illness. Six of the athletes (two with heatstroke) and two staff people required an ambulance, but none were hospitalized.
  • During the Paralympics, 36 Paralympic athletes and 30 staff suffered from heat illness. Two of the Paralympic athletes and one staff person required an ambulance, but none were hospitalized.
  • No deaths due to the summer heat.
  • Medical ice baths were provided at 12 venues (18 events).
Left: WBGT (wet-bulb globe temperature) indicator placed at venues.
Right: For volunteers and staff, cooling cloth and salt tablets provided for free.

ARIGATO to everyone who worked so hard to make Tokyo 2020 a reality.

🍀September 2021: Survey of Games volunteers indicates that 80 percent of them want to continue being a sports volunteer.

September 11, 2021: Official Toyota vehicles used to transport athletes and officials during the Games start appearing on used car lots in places like Ehime, Okayama, and Kumamoto Prefectures. Their Tokyo 2020 design trimmings are left intact on the car. About 2,700 Toyota vehicles were used during the Olympics and 1,700 during the Paralympics.

They consisted of about 500 MIRAI cars, 500 Prius PHV cars, 300 Noah Voxy cars, 150 Noah Voxy (welcab) cars, and other vehicles including RAV4, Hilux, Alphard (used to transport Thomas Bach), and Lexus ES. A used Prius PHV sells for around ¥3.5 million. The cars sell well, and buyers are given the paid option to remove the Tokyo 2020 decorative decals.

September 16, 2021: Tokyo 2020 Official Online Shop and most physical shops in Tokyo start their “Tokyo 2020 Appreciation Sale” by offering a 30 percent discount on many official merchandise.

The ASICS online store also starts offering a 30 percent discount (later increased to 50 percent off) on their Tokyo 2020 merchandise.

September 2021: Pro soccer, baseball, and the sumo tournament (Kokugikan) in Tokyo continue to be held with spectators.

September 24, 2021: The Japanese Cabinet Secretariat and Japan Post start the “Gold Post Project” (ゴールドポストプロジェクト) to honor Tokyo 2020’s Japanese Olympic and Paralympic gold medalists with a golden postal mailbox in their hometowns. The gold medalist could select which mailbox to be repainted gold. The mailbox also has a plaque with the gold medalist’s name and sport. Japan Post’s first golden mailbox is unveiled at Goshomi Post Office (御所見郵便局) in Fujisawa, Kanagawa to honor women’s softball gold medalist Yamada Eri.

September 29, 2021: IOC announces that the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will ban overseas spectators. Only spectators from mainland China will be allowed to spectate if they meet the specific requirements for COVID-19 measures. All Beijng 2022 participants must also be vaccinated or else undergo a 21-day quarantine upon arrival in Beijing. Games participants, including athletes, coaches, media, and volunteers, will be in a strict “closed loop” system during the Games, permitted to travel between venues only for training, competitions, or work.

September 30, 2021: About 5,000 TOCOG employees complete their employment contract. TOCOG is left with only 1,500 employees and more employees would eventually leave in the coming months.

Tokyo 2020 Participation Certificate to all Tokyo 2020 staff and volunteers
Tokyo 2020 Participation Certificate

From late September 2021: Participation Certificate emailed to all Tokyo 2020 staff and volunteers.

Photo: Olympic Certificate on the left signed by IOC President Bach and TOCOG President Hashimoto Seiko, and the Paralympic Certificate on the right signed by IPC President Parsons and Hashimoto.

The Olympics Certificate is in English, French, and Japanese. But the Paralympic Certificate is only in English and Japanese.


Dismantling Tokyo 2020 Venues

Before and after photos of Ariake Urban Sports Park's BMX Racing course in the foreground. Skateboarding venue in background also being dismantled. BMX Freestyle venue on the right already gone.
Before and after photos of Ariake Urban Sports Park’s BMX Racing course in the foreground. In early Oct. 2021, skateboarding venue in background also being dismantled. BMX Freestyle venue on the right already gone.

Temporary Tokyo 2020 venues being dismantled. Ten of the 43 Tokyo 2020 venues are temporary. Tokyo Big Sight used as the main media and broadcast center will revert into a trade show facility. Same for Makuhari Messe in Chiba.
A: Aomi Urban Sports Park spectator seats being removed. The entire venue will be dismantled.
B: Before and after shots of the Tokyo 2020 Official Shop megastore in the 2020 Fan Park in Odaiba.
C: Look of the Games has been removed from the Ariake Gymnastics Centre to become a trade show space.
D: Ariake Tennis Park’s Show Court No. 1‘s extra spectator seats being removed.
E: Venue Media Centre at Ariake Arena (permanent venue) is stripped to a skeleton.

October 1, 2021: Tokyo’s state of emergency is lifted, and the daily number of Covid cases in October drops dramatically to well below 100 and later below 50 per day.

October 1, 2021: The Tokyo 2020 Official Online Shop starts a 50 percent discount sale on many items.

October 16–24, 2021: Tokyo 2020 Arigato Event (東京2020 ARIGATOイベント) is held at Tokyo Sports Square in Yurakucho.
October 16–24, 2021: Tokyo 2020 Arigato Event (東京2020 ARIGATOイベント) is held at Tokyo Sports Square in Yurakucho.

October 16–24, 2021 (photos): Tokyo 2020 Arigato Event (東京2020 ARIGATOイベント) is held at Tokyo Sports Square in Yurakucho. Free event featuring over 1,000 Tokyo 2020 discounted merchandise for sale, exhibits of Tokyo 2020 memorabilia (torch relay torches, cardboard bed, etc.), hands-on activities, and daily appearances of Tokyo 2020 mascots Miratowa and Someity.

October 17, 2021: While wearing a City Cast uniform, Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko holds a thank you event for City Cast volunteers at TMG. About 340 City volunteers (most wearing the City cast uniform) attend the event highlighted by Governor Koike giving a thank you speech and presenting a letter of appreciation to the volunteers. About 30,000 City volunteers were orignally recruited for Tokyo 2020. However, about 13,000 dropped out due to the postponement, Covid fears, or the banning of spectators.

Tokyo 2020 Archives Exhibition

October 18, 2021: In Tokyo Metropolitan Government No. 1 Building, 2nd floor South side, TMG starts a Tokyo 2020 archives exhibition showing memorabilia including Olympic and Paralympic medals, Victory Bouquet, torch relay torches, and volunteer uniforms. Open every day 9:30 am– 6:15 pm.

October 21, 2021: TOCOG announces that during the Games, the Tokyo 2020 network systems and other tech infrastructure saw 450 million cases of cyber attacks which were all successfully blocked. This was twice the number of attacks on the London 2012 Games. There were many cases of password spraying attacks trying to hack into systems. NTT was in charge of cybersecurity and was apparently successful in preventing any cyber attacks from disrupting the Games.

In an interview with Sci-Cul journal by NHK, Nakanishi Katsuhiko, who headed TOCOG’s cybersecurity team, mentions that over 6,000 phishing emails were sent repeatedly to TOCOG and sports federations in Japan and overseas in 2019. It was faked as being from TOCOG CEO Muto Toshiro. The emails contained links to phishing websites which were soon blocked by the cybersecurity team. Thanks to thorough training of TOCOG employees, none fell for the phishing trap. Employees had been trained in the past with faked phishing emails to make sure they took precautions.

“Red team” white hat hackers were also hired to hack into Tokyo 2020’s systems to find and fix vulnerabilities. As a result, no hackers succeeded in penetrating the system’s core and taking over the system manager’s account.

Also, before the Games started, over 3,000 domain names similar to Tokyo 2020’s official domain names were discovered. They were all monitored and some of them were used to create fake ticket selling websites, fake official merchandise shops, or fake video streaming sites. The fake websites were taken down when necessary.

October 24, 2021: The Daiba Shop in Aqua City shopping mall in Odaiba and the temporary Yurakucho Shop in Tokyo Sports Square (open since Oct. 16) become the last Tokyo 2020 official shops to close. The Marunouchi Shop closed on September 20 and the Tokyo Skytree Shop closed on September 27, 2021.

October 27, 2021: For the second time this year, Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko is hospitalized for severe fatigue. She will need one week to rest, TMG announces.

October 31, 2021: Yumenoshima Park Archery Field (training field) reopens for public use.


November 2, 2021: The Olympic/Paralympic Village’s Village Plaza starts to be dismantled and the 40,000 pieces of homegrown lumber are to be returned to all 47 prefectures (63 municipaities) where the wood came from. The lumber had been branded with the name of the prefecture where it came from. It will take until Feb. 2022 to return all the wood to be reused in public works such as in schools and benches.

Olympic/Paralympic Village’s Village Plaza being dismantled in late November 2021. Right photo shows lumber branded with “Yamagata City” which donated the wood piece. All the wood (from all 47 prefectures) will be returned to their donors by February 2022.

Ariake Urban Sports Park (ASP) is almost totally gone in late November 2021. Just some piles of broken asphalt and mounds of dirt from the BMX race course. Deconstruction to be completed by mid-December 2021.

November 2, 2021: Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko is released from the hospital and starts to recuperate at home until the weekend. She is then ordered to telework from home for two weeks.

Golden postal mailbox in honor of gold medalist Horigome Yuto.
Golden postal mailbox in honor of gold medalist Horigome Yuto.

November 10, 2021: As part of the Japanese Cabinet Secretariat and Japan Post’s “Gold Post Project,” the tenth golden Japan Post mailbox is unveiled outside Higashi-Ojima Station (Toei Shinjuku Line) in Koto Ward, Tokyo in honor of Horigome Yuto, Olympic gold medalist in men’s street skateboarding. Horigome was back in Los Angeles and could not attend the unveiling ceremony. (Normal Japanese mailboxes are vermillion.) Higashi-Ojima Station was closest to Horigome’s home while he lived in Koto.

As of Feb. 1, 2022, 61 golden mailboxes have been unveiled in Japan. Team Japan won 27 Olympic gold medals and 13 Paralympic gold medals at Tokyo 2020.

November 12, 2021: Survey by Kyodo News finds that at least 28,000 sets of City Cast uniforms are leftover from Tokyo 2020. Total 48,000 sets of uniforms for City Cast had been purchased by the 11 municipalities which had Tokyo 2020 venues and recruited City Cast volunteers. Tokyo Prefecture had the most leftover including 21,000 pairs of sneakers and 23,000 polo shirts. Each set of City Cast uniforms was purchased for ¥22,000 to ¥40,000 from official sponsor ASICS. The municipalities do not know what to do with the extra uniforms worth over ¥1.7 billion.

November 21, 2021: For first time in four weeks following her second hospitalization this year and recuperation at home, Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko returns to work at her TMG office.

Tokyo 2020 Final Sale

November 23–30, 2021: Event called “Tokyo 2020 Mascot Greeting” and “Tokyo 2020 Final Sale” is held at Tokyo Sports Square in Yurakucho, Tokyo. Official mascots Miraitowa and Someity visit the site four times a day for a photo op. And the Final Sale is held by the Tokyo 2020 official shop selling merchandise (1,000 different products) at discounted prices (up to 80% off). There is also a display of torch relay torches and sports equipment used by athletes (archives exhibition). Similar to the Arigato Event held in the same building in October. Open 11:30 am to 7:00 pm.

Tokyo 2020 Final Sale at Tokyo Sports Square displayed torch relay uniforms and mini cauldrons
Tokyo 2020 Final Sale at Tokyo Sports Square displayed torch relay uniforms and mini cauldrons. Olympic cauldron and uniform on the left, Paralympic on the right.

A: Entrance to Tokyo Sports Square for the Final Sale.
B: Entrance hall.
C: Tokyo 2020 merchandise final sale up to 80% off.
D: Exhibit of sports equipment.
E: Sitting volleyball balls signed by Japanese players.
F: Paralympic weightlifting weights.
G: Official mascots Miraitowa and Someity still attract crowds.
H: Tokyo 2020 Paralympic flag signed by Japanese Para athletes.

November 30, 2021: After holding a 30%, 50%, and 80% discount sale on certain items, the Tokyo 2020 Official Online Shop shuts down.


Before and after (early Dec. 2021) photos of Yumenoshima Park Archery Field. Final Field’s East Stand and everything else is no more.

December 7, 2021: At Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium (softball and baseball venue), a Tokyo 2020 monument is unveiled to convey the stadium’s Olympic legacy to future generations. Photo here.

Watching Paralympic archery on TV.

December 8, 2021: IOC releases the results of independent consumer research that found over 3 billion unique viewers worldwide watched Tokyo 2020 on TV or online. Digital platforms alone saw 28 billion video views, a 139 percent increase over Rio 2016. It makes Tokyo 2020 the most watched Games on digital platforms ever. They included digital streaming, websites, apps, and social media. TV coverage also increased by 33 percent over Rio 2016.

The independent consumer research surveyed 32,055 people age 13 to 65 in 17 countries during August 2021. It found 65 percent regarded Tokyo 2020 to be a success, 59 percent thought the Games were the light at the end of the tunnel, and 60 percent thought it would leave a positive legacy for Tokyo and Japan.

IOC President Thomas Bach also declared Tokyo 2020 to be a great success during the board meeting.

The survey of athletes found 82 percent rated the COVID-19 countermeasures at the Olympic Village as “good,” 80 percent rated their overall experience at the Olympic Village as “good” or “very good”, and 79 percent rated the training and competition venues as “good.”

Also, 93 percent of athletes thought it was important “to compete at the biggest multi-sports event on Earth.”

Tokyo 2020 Audience and Insights Report:

Victory medal ceremony podium used at Ariake Urban Sports Park is displayed at Koto City Hall in Dec. 2021.
Victory medal ceremony podium used at Ariake Urban Sports Park is displayed at Koto City Hall in Dec. 2021. Photos of skateboarding gold medalist and Koto-native Horigome Yuto are also displayed. Koto City had ten Tokyo 2020 venues.

December 9, 2021: At an IOC Executive Board meeting, TOCOG announces that Tokyo 2020’s 98 victory ceremony podiums would be donated to the Japanese medalists’ 300 elementary and junior high schools and hometowns and to municipalities having a Tokyo 2020 venue. The podiums can be disassembled into four pieces. The gold medalist podium has two blocks (upper and lower). The podiums would arrive during Jan. to March 2022. There are 114 Japanese Olympic medalists and 73 Japanese Paralympic medalists.

December 9, 2021: Google announces the Top Ten keyword searches in Japan for 2021 (Jan. 1 to Nov. 22, 2021). “Tokyo 2020 Olympics” is ranked No. 1, followed by “Ohtani Shohei.”

Top Ten Olympic sports searches: 1. Baseball, 2. Soccer (football), 3. Judo, 4. Table tennis, 5. Badminton, 6. Softball, 7. Basketball, 8. Surfing, 9. Tennis, 10. Athletics

Top Ten Paralympic sports searches: 1. Marathon, 2. Wheelchair tennis, 3. Wheelchair basketball, 4. Table tennis, 5. Swimming, 6. Badminton, 7. Judo, 8. Athletics, 9. Wheelchair rugby, 10. Blind soccer/football

Top Ten athlete searches: 1. Ohtani Shohei (MLB baseball), 2. Nakata Sho (pro baseball player suspended for violent acts), 3. Matsuyama Hideki (2021 Masters Tournament golf winner), 4. Ito Mima (table tennis gold medalist), 5. Kinoshita Yusuke (pro baseball player died in Aug.), 6. Mizutani Jun (table tennis gold medalist), 7. Aaron Wolf (judo gold medalist), 8. Ohashi Yui (swimming gold medalist), 9. Abe Hifumi (judo gold medalist), 10. Igarashi Kanoa (surfing silver medalist)

NHK survey results for Tokyo 2020.

December 11, 2021: NHK, Japan’s largest TV and news network, announces the results of a Tokyo 2020 public opinion survey it conducted nationwide from Sept. 8 to Oct. 15, 2021. Some 52 percent of 2,217 respondents thought it was good that the Olympics/Paralympics were held this year, 25 percent thought it should have been postponed again (impossible), and only 22 percent thought it should have been canceled.

This proves that Japan has always had widespread public support for Tokyo 2020.

Other survey results (percentage of respondents who gave the respective answer):

Q1: What did you think of the Olympics and Paralympics that were held in Japan for the second time?
A1: Very good: 27%
A2: Good: 52% (A1+A2 = 78%)
A3: Not good at all: 6%
A4: Not so good: 16%

Q2: What did you think about holding the Games postponed by one year?
A5: Good that it was held in 2021: 52%
A6: Should have postponed it again: 25%
A7: Should have been canceled: 22%

Rinkai Line.

Q3: For people who responded A5 above, what was your main reason?
A8: The athletes could be rewarded for their efforts: 59%
A9: Looked forward to the Games held in Japan: 19%
A10: If we waited until COVID-19 subsided, we would never know when the Games can be held: 12%

Q4: For people who responded A6 above (postpone again), what was your main reason?
A11: Coronavirus was still raging in the world: 36%
A12: Coronavirus was still spreading in Japan: 35%
A13: Wanted the athletes to compete without worrying about coronavirus: 14%

Q5: For people who responded A7 above (cancel), what was your main reason?
A14: Coronavirus was still raging in the world: 40%
A15: Coronavirus was still spreading in Japan: 30%
A16: Wanted the money for the Games to be used against coronavirus instead: 15%

Q6: What do you think of most of the Games held without spectators?
A17: It was appropriate: 92%
A18: It was not appropriate: 8%

Q7: Did you think the Games helped with the recovery of the Tohoku Region from the March 11, 2011 disaster?
A19: It really helped with the recovery: 3%
A20: It helped to some degree: 23%
A21: Did not help at all: 23%
A22: It hardly helped: 50%

Q8: Do you think the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics helped to improve public understanding of para-sports?
A23: It helped a lot: 17%
A24: It helped somewhat: 53%
A25: Did not help at all: 6%
A26: Did not help much: 19%

Q9: When watching the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, what did you think?
A27: Impressed by the athletes taking on the challenge of the sport and the efforts they made to appear in the Paralympics: 72%
A28: Surprised by the sports skills and powerful performance on a level higher than I had expected: 71%
A29: Enjoyed the competition records and results, making it a genuine sport: 64%
A30: It had a different kind of appeal compared to the Olympics: 58%

Q10: To promote understanding of para-sports, what should be done? (Multiple answers permitted.)
A31: Para-sports should be covered more in mass media such as TV and newspapers: 65%
A32: More para-sports events should be held: 34%
A33: Para-sports federations and related organizations should promote their sports more: 30%


December 13, 2021: Kyoto-based Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation announces 2021’s Kanji Character of the Year as “Kin” (gold 金) based on the most popular submission (10,422 votes out of 223,773) from the public. The winning kanji character was introduced by the chief priest of the famous Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto as he wrote the kanji with a large brush. “Kin” was selected mainly in reference to the numerous gold medals won by Japanese athletes at Tokyo 2020. The second most popular kanji (10,304 votes) was “Wa” (rings 輪), also in reference to the Olympics (rings). This year-end tradition started in 1995, and it is actually the fourth time for “Kin” to be selected as Kanji of the Year (今年の漢字). Previously selected in 2000, 2012, and 2016 (all Olympic years).

December 15–20, 2021: In Shinjuku, the huge Tokyo 2020 emblem and mascot billboard posters decorating TMG buildings since May 2016 are removed. The billboards are as large as 8.5 meters wide.

December 21, 2021: A ceremony is held at the Japan Olympic Museum in Tokyo to give a Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch and torch bearer’s uniform to retired sumo wrestler Yokozuna Hakuho (now Magaki Oyakata) who wanted to be a torch bearer, but did not have the chance to do it since he was at the Nagoya sumo tournament in July. TOCOG President Hashimoto Seiko gave him the torch and uniform.

Former TOCOG President Mori Yoshiro was also at the ceremony and revealed that he originally wanted Hakuho to be the final torch bearer to light the cauldron at the top of the steps after receiving the flame from baseball legend Nagashima Shigeo during the Opening Ceremony. Magaki Oyakata was surprised to hear this. (東京五輪聖火リレートーチおよびランナーユニホームお渡し式)

December 22, 2021: At a board meeting, TOCOG announces the estimated cost of Tokyo 2020 to be ¥1.453 trillion. This is about ¥191 billion lower than the budget (¥1.644 trillion) announced in December 2020. TOCOG President Hashimoto Seiko mentions that costs were reduced by simplifying the Games and banning spectators. With no spectators, expenses for COVID-19 safety measures, security staff, and transportation could be reduced.

Meanwhile, the loss in ticket revenue amounts to ¥71.7 billion. This loss is being offset by reduced spending by TOCOG and TMG shelling out ¥62.8 billion. TOCOG will then bear ¥634.3 billion. The total cost of Tokyo 2020 is to be split between TOCOG, TMG, and the Japanese government. TMG is slated to pay ¥624.8 billion (¥77.2 billion less than the previous budget) and the Japanese government ¥193.9 billion (¥27.1 billion less than the previous budget). Thus, no new expenses would be added.

However, the total amount is still about twice the cost estimate (¥734 billion) in 2013 when Tokyo was bidding to host the Games. CEO Muto Toshiro explained that the 2013 estimate basically covered only venue construction costs and did not include operational costs. Therefore, the total cost cannot be compared to the 2013 estimate.

The final total cost of Tokyo 2020 is to be announced in June 2022.

December 24, 2021: TMG announces the results of a late Oct. 2021 online survey asking 500 TMG monitors (observers) about Tokyo 2020. Some 490 replied. To the question about what they thought about holding Tokyo 2020, 28.8 percent answered “Good,” 27.6 percent said “pretty good,” 9 percent “not so good,” 13.9 percent “not good,” and 20.8 percent answered “neither good or bad.”

Among those who said “not so good” or “not good,” 85.7 percent said it was due to the contradiction of holding the Games while telling Tokyo residents and the Japanese people to refrain from going out. And 83.9 percent said it was due to the the spread of COVID-19 and pressure on the medical system. Among those who said “good” or “pretty good,” 76.4 percent cited being impressed by the great performance of athletes.

Some 76.2 percent thought it was appropriate to hold the Games without spectators. Also, 64.2 percent thought the COVID-19 countermeasures were adequate or somewhat adequate.

Former Olympic Village in Harumi
Former Olympic Village in Harumi.

December 24, 2021: Twenty-nine owners of condomium units in the former Olympic Village (Harumi Flag) file a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court against the ten real estate developers for the one-year delay to move in. The original move-in date was March 2023. This has been delayed by a year due to the postponement of Tokyo 2020. The real estate developers received an extra year’s worth of lease money from TMG while the owners got no compensation and no explanation from the developers.

The condo owners demand that they can move in as originally scheduled in March 2023 or be paid a total of ¥80 million in compensation. The condo owners cite extra expenses due to paying rent for alternate housing an extra year. It also disrupts their children’s education by going to a different school.

December 27, 2021: Tokyo Bureau of Port and Harbor announces that Harumi Passenger Ship Terminal in the former Olympic Village (now Harumi Flag) that served as the NOC/NPC Services Centre will close on Feb. 20, 2022 and be demolished from July 2022 to April 2023. A new, small- and medium-size passenger ship terminal will be built as a replacement. The new terminal will be smaller and less costly to maintain.

December 31, 2021: The International Fair Play Committee awards the Tokyo 2020 Fair Play Award to women’s park skateboarding finalists Sakura Yosozumi (JPN, gold), Kokona Hiraki (JPN, silver), Sky Brown (GBR, bronze), Poppy Olsen (AUS), Bryce Wettstein (USA), Dora Varella (BRA), and Yndiara Asp (BRA) for consoling reigning world champion and 15-year-old Okamoto Misugu after she fell in her final round and broke into tears. She missed medaling and came in 4th place. Her competitors immediately surrounded her with hugs and lifted her up on their shoulders in one of the most touching moments of Tokyo 2020.

December 31, 2021: In accordance with the agreement with the IOC, licensing for the use of Tokyo 2020’s official mascots and emblems expires. TMG, TOCOG, official shops, official sponsors, etc., had already removed all public PR images of the mascots and official emblems.

Tokyo 2020 mascots miraitowa someity
Bye-bye Miraitowa and Someity! After the end of Dec. 2021, we will no longer see Tokyo 2020 mascots for official use since the licensing agreement with the IOC will expire. These mascot posters decorating the underground corridor between Shinjuku Station and TMG were all removed by Dec. 2021.

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Arigato by Tokyo 2020 mascots

You must do the things you think you cannot do.
– Eleanor Roosevelt

Life is a helluva lot more fun if you say yes rather than no.
– Richard Branson

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.
– Steve Jobs

Paper lantern signs with mottos by Japanese athletes: "Endure and you shall win." "Do not lose to yourself." At Katori Shrine in Koto Ward
Victory paper lanterns with mottos by Japanese athletes (in English below).
At Katori Shrine in Koto Ward, Tokyo on New Year’s Day 2020.
The shrine worships the “Sports God of Victory” (スポーツ振興の神) rooted in martial archery.

Endure and victory shall come. (耐えて勝つ)
Arai Hirooki (荒井 広宙), Race walker, Rio 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist

Don’t lose to yourself. (自分に負けない)
Ono Chikako (小野 智華子), Paralympic swimmer

Fall down seven times, stand up eight. (七転び八起き)
– Old Japanese proverb

Future Plans

Ariake Gymnastics Centre post-Olympics

The waterfront area (Odaiba, Aomi, Ariake, Tatsumi, Yumenoshima) will transform into the Rinkai Sports Zone with legacy areas to enjoy sports. There will be Oi Hockey Stadium, Sea Forest Waterway, Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre, Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Tatsumi International Swimming Center, Yumenoshima Park Archery Field, and Ariake Legacy Area (Ariake Urban Sports Park site, Ariake Arena, and Ariake Tennis Park) for urban sports. Ariake area will see shopping and sports facilities integrated.

Koto Ward/City announced that it will build a skateboarding park within Yumenoshima Park which already has the permanent archery venue.

The strategy is to make sports facilities more accessible, so kids can do sports easily and Japan can nurture more Olympians.

Almost all the new, permanent venues built for Tokyo 2020 are expected to operate in the red. If the coronavirus pandemic lasts too long, it will further inflate the red ink. Five of the six permanent venues built by TMG are expected to operate in the red annually as follows:

Ariake Arena: ¥356 million/year in the black. The only new permanent venue expected to turn a profit. Besides sporting events, it will host concerts and other diverse events.

Canoe Slalom Centre: ¥186 million/year in the red.

Oi Hockey Stadium: ¥92 million/year in the red.

Olympic Stadium‘s high maintenance cost is estimated to be ¥2.4 billion/year for 50 years including repairs. This is more than twice the old Olympic/National Stadium’s annual maintenance cost (¥1.1 billion).

The stadium uses natural grass turf and the track was made by an Italian company, reputed to be “fast” for runners. The government is also considering to sell naming rights to the stadium, otherwise known as the “National Stadium” (Kokuritsu kyōgijō, same name as the old national stadium). There are not too many sports and concerts which will need this much capacity though.

Sea Forest Waterway: ¥158 million/year in the red. TMG had planned to reopen this venue by April 2022, however, it continues to be plagued by oyster growth on floating wave dampers along the rowing course. It is costly and troublesome to remove. Officials are studying ways to control the growth which weighs down the wave dampers (消波装置) to become ineffective. It also threatens to prevent the venue from hosting international competitions. The facility also lacks enough lodging and rest spaces for large competitions. Only 140 athletes can currently be accommodated. It is also inconvenient to get to the venue with train stations far away.

Tatsumi International Swimming Center (Tatsumi Water Polo Centre) will be converted into Tokyo’s first year-round ice rink In 2025. However, it is still expected to operate in the red. A private sector will be hired to operate the facility.

Tokyo Aquatics Centre: ¥638 million/year in the red. It will take over from Tatsumi International Swimming Center (Tatsumi Water Polo Centre) as Tokyo’s main venue for aquatics competitions.

Yumenoshima Park Archery Field: ¥11.7 million/year in the red.

Ariake Gymnastics Centre will become a trade show/exhibition space.

Harumi Passenger Ship Terminal in the former Olympic Village (now Harumi Flag) that served as the NOC/NPC Services Centre will close on Feb. 20, 2022 and be demolished from July 2022 to April 2023. A new, small- and medium-size passenger ship terminal will be built as a replacement. The new terminal will be smaller and less costly to maintain.

🎯2030 Winter Olympics Bid
The city of Sapporo is interested in bidding, and TOCOG President Hashimoto Seiko expressed her willingness to head the OCOG if Sapporo wins the bid. The host city will be decided in 2022 or 2023.

On Nov.30, 2021, Sapporo announces that they reduced the cost of the hosting the 2030 Winter Games by 25 percent. It also issues a Games Overview (大会概要) in Japanese:

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