Everything you need to know about Tokyo 2020

The next Olympic Games will witness five new sports, iconic venues, and medals made entirely from recycled metal.

By Rory Jiwani ·

The anticipation is already growing ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

In 500 days' time, more than 11,000 athletes from over 200 nations will take part in the Games of the XXXII Olympiad running from 24 July to 9 August.

Medals will be awarded in 339 events across 33 sports encompassing 50 disciplines.

This will be the second Olympic Games in Tokyo after the Japanese capital staged the Games of the XVIII Olympiad in 1964.

But this one promises to be the biggest and the best yet.

Don't miss the chance to get your 2020 Olympics tickets. International sales have now opened for a limited time.

The new sports


The biggest names in surfing will hit Tsurigasaki Beach with Olympic medals at stake for the first time.

Even qualification will be tough with 40 athletes (20 men and 20 women) making it to the Games and a maximum of four (two of each gender) from each country.

Pity Australia who will have to choose two women from Stephanie Gilmore, Tyler Wright and Sally Fitzgibbons.

And which two Brazilian men would you pick out of Gabriel Medina, Filipe Toledo and Italo Ferreira?

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The competition will take place over four days, waves permitting, with the top two surfers in each heat (of either three or four athletes) going through to the next round.

Those who fail to make the first two will compete in a repechage phase to decide who goes through to the latter rounds and eventually, one-on-one medal deciders.


Nyjah Huston and Brazilians Leticia Bufoni and Pedro Barros are among the names who will be lighting up Tokyo next year.

There are two categories for each gender.

Street skateboarding is held on a straight street-style course complete with stairs, handrails, benches and walls.

The athletes are judged on the originality, execution and number of tricks they perform.

As the two-time defending Street League world champion and an eight-time X Games gold medallist, Huston is the man to beat.

Meanwhile, Bufoni is a multiple X Games winner and has been runner-up at the last three Street League World Championships after taking gold in 2015.

The defending world champion is Aori Nishimura.

The winner at X Games Minneapolis 2017 aged 15, she will hope to win gold on home soil two days before her 20th birthday.

Park skateboarding takes place on a hollowed-out course featuring a series of curves and deep bowls.

While vert is not a class at the Olympics, there is a significant vert element in park (or bowl) competitions.

Barros claimed his first X Games title aged 15 in 2010, and won the first Park World Championships in Nanjing last year.

But he was beaten by Alex Sorgente in the VPS Pro Finals with American-based Sorgente having the option of competing for Italy, the land of his parents' birth.

Triple Olympic snowboard halfpipe gold medallist Shaun White has won two X Games titles in vert, and he is trying to qualify in park.

As is Ayumu Hirano, runner-up to White at PyeongChang 2018, and silver medallist at Sochi 2014.

Leading the Japanese challenge is Yuto Horigome who could compete in both street and park in Tokyo.

Sport Climbing

The first sport climbing Olympic medals will be awarded in Tokyo next year in combined men's and women's competitions.

For each gender, 20 athletes will take part in all three disciplines - speed, bouldering and lead.

Their placings are then multiplied with the top six, ie. those with the lowest totals, going through to the final.

Those six then compete again with the lowest multiplication totals this time deciding the medals.

Janja Garnbret celebrates winning the 2018 combined world title in Innsbruck (courtesy of Johann Groder/EXPA Pictures)

Janja Garnbret will be a warm favourite for women's gold after taking bouldering and combined titles at the 2018 World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria.

For the first time, the combined competition used the format being implemented in Tokyo.

And despite speed being her weakest discipline, the 19-year-old Slovenian's strength in the other two - she won the lead world crown in 2016 - was more than enough to take victory.

When asked if her triumph made her the hot favourite in Japan, she replied, "Yes, maybe."

The men's competition looks more open with Jakob Schubert winning lead and combined gold on home soil, ending Canada's Sean McColl's run of three consecutive combined world titles.


The home of karate will host the first Olympic competition in 2020.

Japan was the top nation at last November's World Championships in Madrid and much will be expected of their athletes on home soil.

The hope of Female Karate - Miyahara Miho

The hope of Female Karate - Miyahara Miho

There are six kumite events in Tokyo - three for each gender in different weight divisions - which see two opponents engage in combative sparring.

Men: 67kg, 75kg, +75kg

Women: 55kg, 61kg, +61kg

In addition, there are two kata competitions - one per gender - where the two opponents take it in turns to perform a routine consisting of a series of punches and kicks.

It is in kata where the host nation will be fancied to fare particularly well with Ryo Kiyuna clinching his third consecutive world title in Madrid, while Kiyou Shimizu was denied a hat-trick by home favourite Sandra Sanchez.

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Baseball and softball return to the Olympic Games having been dropped after Beijing 2008.

The host nation will be among the favourites in both, and can take inspiration from the last final in softball.

The United States had won all three previous gold medals, starting with the first at Atlanta 1996, and they took a 22-game winning streak into the 2008 final.

But Yukiko Ueno gave up just one run as Japan upset the favourites 3-1 to claim a first gold.

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It was an incredible achievement by Ueno who pitched three complete games totalling 28 innings in the space of two days including the gold medal match.

There was also a shock in baseball in Beijing as South Korea beat Cuba 3-2 to claim gold.

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Cuba have been in all five previous finals, winning three of them, and they are sure to be contenders again while the United States will be hoping to add to their gold from Sydney 2000.

Japan took bronze in 1992 and 2004, and silver in 1996 where they went down to Cuba in the gold medal match.

And introducing...

A number of sports will have new disciplines for Tokyo 2020 as the move towards full gender equality continues apace.

In basketball, countries will go for gold for the first time in 3x3.

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BMX freestyle is a new cycling discipline at the Games with the madison restored to the track cycling programme.

There are three new events in swimming - the women's 1500m freestyle for women, the men's 800m freestyle, and the 4x100m mixed medley relay.

In shooting, there will be three new mixed team events - mixed trap, mixed 10m air pistol and mixed 10m air rifle.

And in archery, there will also be a new mixed team competition.

The venues

Tokyo's New National Stadium will be the focal point of the Games.

The New National Stadium takes shape (pictured on 29 January 2019)

The Opening Ceremony, athletics and football will be held there as well as the Closing Ceremony.

With a capacity of 68,000, the New National Stadium has a hybrid wood and steel frame and is scheduled to be completed at the end of November.

The wood in the roof structure comes from all 47 Japanese prefectures.

The Urban Park concept which proved so successful at the 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games will also be in operation.

BMX and skateboarding will take place at Ariake Urban Sports Park with Aomi Urban Sports Park staging sport climbing and 3x3 basketball.

There are also four existing venues which were used at the 1964 Olympic Games.

These are Tokyo National Gymnasium (table tennis), Yoyogi National Stadium (handball), Nippon Budokan (judo and karate) and Equestrian Park.

Nippon Budokan, built to host judo at the 1964 Games, will stage judo and karate

Tokyo may be the hub, but there are a number of events held in outlying venues.

The most notable is Fukushima, site of a deadly tsunami and nuclear disaster in 2011.

Baseball and softball will be held in the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium with big crowds expected.

Just north of Fukushima is Miyagi, another city hit by the tsunami, which will host football preliminary games and quarter-finals.

The furthest outpost for the Games is Sapporo, some 850km north of the capital, which will stage football group matches.

Kashima, on the east coast of Japan's main Honshu island 100k east of Tokyo, will host much of the two football tournaments including semi-finals and the women's bronze medal match.

Kashima Soccer Stadium, home of AFC Champions League holders Kashima Antlers, will stage football at Tokyo 2020

The medals

A total of 5,000 medals will be awarded at the Games.

The Tokyo 2020 Medal Project is on track to use 100 percent recycled metal in their construction, with the public passing on old household appliances to make 'Everyone's Medals'.

Mobile phones, computers and digital cameras are among the items requested.

It is worth noting that the only physical difference between a gold and a silver medal is at least six grams of gold plating, while bronze is an alloy of copper and tin.

Over 400 entries were received to design medals for the Olympic and Paralympic Games with the winners announced later this year.

The first medals will be awarded on 25 July, the day after the Opening Ceremony.

They will again go to the medallists in the women's 10m air rifle which was won at Rio 2016 by Virginia Thrasher of the United States.

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The last medals of the Games are awarded during the Closing Ceremony to the top three in the men's marathon.

At Rio 2016, the gold went to Eliud Kipchoge who has since broken the marathon world record.

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The torch relay

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay will start in Fukushima on 26 March 2020, two weeks after the lighting ceremony in Athens, Greece.

Before the start of the relay proper, the flame will be displayed in the two other prefectures - Iwate and Miyagi - most affected by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and then Fukushima.

At 121 days, it will last 15 days longer than the journey undertaken ahead of Rio 2016 with the motto "Hope Lights our Way".

The country’s famous cherry blossoms will provide a stunning backdrop as the torch visits all of Japan's 47 prefectures.

One notable stop is Nagano, host city of the 1998 Olympic Winter Games, on 2-3 April.

The relay ends with 15 days in Tokyo Prefecture before the Opening Ceremony on 24 July.

The mascots

Children in Japanese schools at home and abroad voted for the mascots for the Olympic and Paralympic Games from a choice of six pairs.

Paris school kids vote in Tokyo 2020 mascot race

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In February 2018, it was announced that two fox-like characters had won but their names were not revealed until last July.

Miraitowa and Someity: Tokyo 2020 mascots make official debut

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The Olympic Games mascot, Miraitowa, combines the Japanese words for 'future' and 'eternity'.

The name of the Paralympic Games mascot, Someity, is derived from a cherry blossom variety Someiyoshino, and sounds like the English "so mighty".

Miraitowa's head and body have the same indigo blue ichimatsu patterns as the Tokyo 2020 Games emblem.

Its personality stems from a traditional Japanese proverb meaning "to learn old things well and to acquire new knowledge from them”.

But Miraitowa has a special power - it can go anywhere instantaneously via teleportation.

The pair will be doing their best to raise interest in the Games over the next 500 days.