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Tokyo 2020 secures venues for rescheduled Olympics

President of Tokyo 2020 Yoshiro Mori (R), and CEO Toshiro Muto (L), attend a news conference after giving a presentation to the IOC on July 17 (by ISSEI KATO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) has confirmed the schedule for the postponed summer Olympics after locking down all 43 venues for next year’s multi-sport event.

Securing the venues once again was one of the main challenges facing organisers after March’s announcement that the 2020 Olympics would be rescheduled to begin July 23, 2021, and run through August 8 of next year.

Tokyo 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) agreed in April that given the critical impact of the competition schedule on every aspect of preparation, each session of the 2021 competition would in principle be scheduled as originally planned for 2020. This has been reflected in the confirmed competition schedule, with the start and end times of certain events adjusted for operational reasons.

Events in 2021 will take place at the same competition venues that were planned to be used in 2020. This means all 43 competition venues, the Olympic Village, and the International Broadcast Centre and Main Press Centre remain in place for the Olympic Games in 2021.

Tokyo 2021 will kick off with softball on July 21, two days before the opening ceremony, at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium. Preliminary football matches will start on the same day, with rowing preliminary events and archery ranking rounds also to be held on opening ceremony day.

The first medal event, the women’s shooting 10m air rifle, will be held on July 24, along with medal events in six more sports – archery, cycling (road race), fencing, judo, taekwondo and weightlifting. Urban sports, a new highlight of the Tokyo Games, will commence with men’s and women’s 3×3 basketball on July 24. Urban sports will be held in the Aomi and Ariake areas throughout almost the entire period of the Games.

Tokyo 2020 has scheduled ‘Super Saturday’ and ‘Golden Sunday’ days for July 31 and August 1, featuring 21 and 25 medal events, respectively. The second half of the Games, from July 30 onward, will feature semi-finals and finals in wrestling, karate and other team events, as well as athletics events at the new Olympic Stadium, the main venue of the Games.

August 7, the day before the closing ceremony, will constitute another Super Saturday, featuring 34 event finals, the highest single day number during the Games. The final day of the Olympic Games, August 8, will commence with the relocated men’s marathon in Sapporo. The last medal event will be the men’s water polo final. The victory ceremony for the women’s marathon will be held during the closing ceremony for the first time in Olympic history.

IOC president Thomas Bach said: “The Olympic Village is the beating heart of the Olympic Games, while the venues are its soul. I am delighted that the Village and the venues have been confirmed for next year. This means that the athletes will have this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“With only one year to go, a mammoth task still lies ahead of us. With our Japanese partners and friends, we agree that we have to adapt the planning of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 to the requirements of the global crisis, while maintaining the unique spirit and message that defines our mission.

“We are working to optimise the operations and services without touching on sports and athletes. In this way we can, together with the Organising Committee, turn these postponed Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 into an unprecedented celebration of unity and solidarity of humankind, making them a symbol of resilience and hope. Showing that we are stronger together.”

Friday’s IOC Session also received an update on the developments being made to simplify and optimise the Games, with the support of all delivery partners from the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the Coordination Commission.

In addition, the All Partner Task Force, which includes experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and local Japanese government authorities, continues to advise the Games organisers amid Covid-19, with plans being developed for countermeasures.

Speaking during a press conference, Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto said the additional costs of the year-long delay will be announced as early as this autumn. Bach added that reducing spectator numbers could be a means to enhance safety at the Games.

Bach said: “This is one of the scenarios we have to look at. This has to do with travel restrictions and quarantines, but it’s too early to tell. It’s not what we want. We would like to see venues full of enthusiastic fans.”

This news comes after a recent telephone survey covering 721 randomly selected households with eligible voters and 1,374 mobile phone numbers showed that less than 25 per cent of those questioned supported the Olympics going ahead in 2021. 75.3 per cent of those questioned also supported a further delay in the games or their cancellation, saying the virus will not be contained anytime soon.