Despite having to wait a year, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are back on. The opening ceremony will start Friday, July 23 and athletes from around the world will be able to compete for gold once again. However, with the coronavirus still spreading, nothing will be the same. Here is what you should expect for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. 

Opening and Closing Ceremony
In past Olympic ceremonies, athletes were brought together by music, songs, dance and fireworks. These rituals gave them time to connect and discover the culture of the countries where the Olympics were hosted. Due to the spread of the coronavirus, many people are questioning whether or not the opening and closing ceremonies will be taking place. The short answer is yes, they will be happening, but it’s not that simple. According to the organizing committee, the ceremonies will be “simpler and more restrained.” This means that there will be set rules that all participants must follow. 

Coronavirus Restrictions 
Although the Olympics are happening this year, it doesn’t mean that the coronavirus is any less of a concern. Due to this fast spreading, deadly virus, the games will look different this year than anything seen in the past. On April 28, 2021, the second version of the Tokyo 2020 playbook with updated rules and regulations was released. There will be another published in June, as well as a fourth in July. Each updated copy becomes more relevant and clearer as to the restrictions. Some basic protocols that have been released include maintaining six feet of distance from any other competing athlete or coach, avoiding physical touch such as hugs or hand shaking, as well as avoiding crowds and indoor spaces whenever possible. Masks will be worn when appropriate. In addition, everyone from coaches and athletes to all other Olympic personnel must get tested for the coronavirus regularly. 

When talking to Olympic gold medalist Katherine Holmes, a former Princeton student and current Olympic fencer, about her concerns due to the coronavirus, she explained how more than anything she is excited to get back out and compete again. She also stated, “I’ve been vaccinated so I feel super safe.” She continued to talk about how she feels that the protocols set in place are really strong and well thought out in order to have a safe Olympic game ceremony.

For the first time in the history of the Olympics, there will be no foreign spectators allowed. If you are wanting to watch your favorite athletes compete for gold, you’re going to have to tune in through television. NBC will be livestreaming all Olympic events to make sure you don’t miss anything. Due to the 16 hour time difference from Oregon to Tokyo, NBC will be broadcasting on tape display as well. While it is unfortunate that no one is able to travel and take part in the festivities in person, there will be more time to make sure that the virtual effects used for broadcasting are top notch. 

Holmes explains that the viewing experience on media platforms will be better than ever. “They’re going to really try to produce the games even more so than usual for people to be watching from their couches,” she says. “I actually think it might be even more spectacular.”

Olympic Athletes
Olympic athletes have been training for the past five years for this moment and are ready to get back into the competition world again. With this year-long pause, there have been some challenges. When talking over the phone with one of Holmes’s coaches, Szilvia Gyore, she discussed motivation. “Keeping motivation up is so tiring and exhausting,” Gyore explained. Holmes also shared how hard it was for her personally to stay motivated. She kept talking about the importance of pushing herself everyday. Holmes is not alone. In an interview with Today News, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles states, “The delay has been hard on all athletes around the world.” With all these setbacks and struggles, eventually come victories. “I’m just so happy that we’re having an Olympics and I get the chance to represent team USA after so many years of hard work,” stated Holmes as we ended our conversation. 

Due to the coronavirus, the Olympic games are going to be like never before. Many things will have changed from years past and protocols will be set in place in order to keep everyone safe and healthy. Despite the year-long pause, athletes are more than ready to go out and fight for gold. 

Photo of the Olympic rings and torch. Explore what we should be expecting for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympic games. Photo by Bijou Allard
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