Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics Guide

Tokyo 2020 logo

In 1964, Tokyo became the first ever Asian city to host the Olympic Games and it was a triumph which propelled Japan into the modern era. Fifty-six years later, the city will once again host the games. Sports fans across the globe are already expecting the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics to be one of the most spectacular sporting events the world has ever seen.

The organizers have said the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be “the most innovative ever organized, and will rest on three fundamental principles to transform the world: striving for your personal best (achieving your personal best); accepting one another (unity in diversity); and passing on a legacy for the future (connecting to tomorrow)”.

This handy Tokyo 2020 guide will give you an overview of the games including important dates, exciting events, sports venues, and ticket information.

Tokyo 2020 key dates

The Tokyo games will take place over 17 action-packed days from July 24 to August 9.

The Opening Ceremony will be held on July 24 at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium. However, the sports action will actually start two days before with the first soccer and softball matches. The qualifying rounds for rowing and archery will start on the day of the ceremony.

On July 25 the games will heat up as 21 different sports will start including gymnastics, fencing, tennis, table tennis, shooting, and cycling. The absolute peak of the excitement will be the finals of the athletics which will take place between July 31 and August 9.

The Closing Ceremony will happen on the last day of the games (August 9).

The Tokyo Paralympic Games will start 15 days after the closure of the Olympics, from August 25 to September 6.

Overall there will be 540 events across dozens of different sports. You can check the Tokyo 2020 Olympics schedule to know the dates when each competition will be held.

Olympic venues

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic venues will be in two main zones: the Heritage Zone (the area of the ‘64 Olympics) and the Tokyo Bay Zone (which will feature newly-built venues). The two zones will overlap to form the shape of the infinity symbol to symbolize the legacy of the games and the link between past, present, and future.

In total, 43 venues will be used. Tokyo Bay Zone will be the largest with 13 venues, the Heritage Zone will contain 7, and there will also be some outlying venues for sports with specific requirements. Thousands of volunteers, who will be the ambassadors of the Olympics, will help to ensure the smooth-running of the stadiums.

New Japanese National Stadium
The new National Stadium is set to be the main venue for the 2020 Summer Olympics

The New National Stadium will serve as the main stadium, as it did in the ‘64 Olympics. The stadium is being rebuilt in the same spot and it will hold 68,000 seats. All the track and field events and the opening and closing ceremonies will take place there. The closest station to the National Stadium is the Sendagaya Station (Shinjuku district) on the Chuo-Sobu Line.

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Olympic sports

The Tokyo Olympics will feature 339 events across 33 sports and 50 disciplines. There will be 5 new sports (baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, climbing, and surfing) as well as 15 new events within existing sports (such as 3-on-3 basketball and freestyle BMX).

Olympic sports
Image byThe Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games

List of sports in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Here is a complete list of the sports and disciplines. Some sports are a singular discipline.

  • Aquatics: artistic swimming, diving, swimming, water polo
  • Archery
  • Athletics
  • Badminton
  • Baseball (new sport): baseball, softball
  • Basketball: basketball, 3-on-3 basketball
  • Boxing
  • Canoeing: slalom, sprint
  • Climbing (new sport)
  • Cycling: BMX freestyle, BMX racing, mountain biking, road cycling, track cycling
  • Equestrian: dressage, eventing, jumping
  • Fencing
  • Field hockey
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics: artistic, rhythmic, trampoline
  • Handball
  • Judo
  • Karate (new sport): kata, kumite
  • Modern pentathlon
  • Rowing
  • Rugby sevens
  • Sailing
  • Shooting
  • Skateboarding (new sport)
  • Surfing (new sport)
  • Table tennis
  • Taekwondo
  • Tennis
  • Triathlon
  • Volleyball: volleyball, beach volleyball
  • Weightlifting
  • Wrestling: freestyle, Greco-Roman

Tokyo 2020 mascots

The Tokyo 2020 mascot is a futuristic, indigo-blue character called Miraitowa who has the Tokyo 2020 emblem across its head and body. The design process included 5 million children across Japan who gave their feedback.

Miraitowa’s personality is derived from a traditional Japanese proverb which means to learn old things and to gain new knowledge from them. The mascot has a strong sense of justice and has the special ability to be able to move anywhere instantly.

The 2020 Paralympic mascot is pink and called Someity. It has cherry blossom tactile sensors and 3 superpowers: telepathy, telekinesis, and the ability to fly using its special cloak. Someity has a dignified inner strength and loves nature. Both characters have the Tokyo 2020 logo on their head.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics mascots
Miraitowa & Someiti, Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics Mascots – Image by The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games

Tokyo 2020 tickets

At the moment, only Japanese residents are eligible to apply for tickets from the Tokyo 2020 official website. Sports fans from other countries can buy tickets and travel packages from their country’s Authorized Ticket Resellers (ATR), which you can check at https://ticket.tokyo2020.org/.

For Japanese residents, the ticket lottery will start on May 9 at 10am. The order in which the applications are received will not affect the result. However, the website will be very busy once the lottery starts so applicants should apply as early as possible to ensure a successful application (applicants will  receive a Tokyo 2020 ID number after submission).

Tickets will only be available on the official website (through lottery applications) until the fall. In the Spring of 2020, the last-minute sales will start for overseas residents.

The basic ticket prices for adults will start from 12,000 yen but there will be some tickets available at a much lower price of 2,020 yen for children, senior citizens, and people with disabilities. The most expensive ticket sales will be 300,000 yen, for the opening and closing ceremonies.

Find out more detailed information in our article about the Tokyo 2020 Olympics tickets.

Ticket sales key dates

  • May 9 2019 – Lottery application period starts on official website
  • May 28 2019 – Lottery application period closes
  • June 20 2019 – Lottery results published
  • Autumn 2019 – Second Lottery
  • Spring 2020 – Last-minute ticket sales start

The Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay will start on March 26, 2020, and it will pass through all 47 prefectures in Japan. It will start in Fukushima Prefecture and then venture southward.

The torch’s journey will coincide with Japan’s famous cherry blossoms, which typically bloom in early April. The relay will last 121 days and aim to promote the Olympic values throughout Japan. The relay will also aim to demonstrate solidarity with the regions still recovering from the earthquake and tsunami of 2011. It will carry the slogan “hope lights our way.”

In a few years time, the Olympic Torch will make its way to France for the Paris 2024 Olympics. The next winter Olympics will be Beijing 2022.

Transport innovations for 2020

Japan has long been known for its groundbreaking research and development in a variety of technologies, and these will be prominently on display during the 2020 Olympics. Within the Olympic Village, humanoid robots will be available to give you directions to nearby accommodations and attractions. Technology is also under development that will allow holographic updates of happenings within the stadium.

When you head to your hotel, you can use one keycard for the train, your hotel room, and your driverless taxi… yes, a driverless taxi. Field tests are already taking place in Tokyo for a new generation of “robot taxis.”

New Maglev trains

Regarding transportation, Tokyo will again introduce the world to its fastest train yet. While not planned to enter commercial operation until 2027, the Maglev will make its debut at the Tokyo Olympics. This train has broken all land speed records and is capable of reaching speeds more than 374 miles per hour.

These future trains operate on the principle of magnetic levitation, enabling the train to hover above the tracks. It is this lack of friction that allows the train to reach tremendous speeds, while still adhering to stringent Japanese safety standards.

Maglev bullet train prototype
Maglev bullet train prototype

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New Shinkansen N700s Supreme trains

Also, the new Shinkansen N700S series, also called Shinkansen Supreme, will make its debut in 2020 just in time for the Olympics.

This smarter and quieter train has been redesigned and will run on the Tokaido Shinkansen line, between Tokyo Station and Shin-Osaka Station. Thanks to being 11 tons lighter than the previous generation, it will consume less energy.

Shinkansen N700 Series
Shinkansen N700 “Supreme” Series

New station on the Yamanote line

In honor of the event, the Yamanote Line will be even inaugurating a new station: Takanawa Gateway Station. This station will be located between Shinagawa and Tamachi Stations, and will provide access to the Haneda Airport Monorail and the JR Keihin-Tohoku line.

Designed in the eki naka style, Takagawa Gateway station will be four stories in height, and the public area will host a large screen for viewing the games.

New Yamanote line station design
Architect Kengo Kuma has designed the new station on Tokyo’s JR Yamanote Line

Besides, the Tokyo metro system and JR East have been named official partners in the Tokyo 2020 Sponsorship Programme. Their goal is “to contribute to the growing enthusiasm (…) by providing safe and comfortable transportation services” said JR East President and CEO Tetsuro Tomita.

Begin making your travel plans now so you won’t miss out on this once in a lifetime event, and let your JR Pass make travel fast and easy.

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