Tokyo’s marathon journey to the start of the Olympics | Olympic Games News

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A year after they were supposed to start, the Tokyo Olympics officially kick off with a three-and-a-half-hour opening ceremony on July 23.

The event at the National Stadium in the Japanese capital is intended to celebrate the world’s “unity in diversity” and to encourage the more than 11,000 athletes who will participate in the Games, mostly without the benefit of crowds to support them. to encourage.

After a journey through Japan’s 47 prefectures with some 10,000 runners, the Olympic flame will be the centerpiece of the ceremony.

“Our goal is to deliver a performance of human affirmation and hope for the future,” said choreography director Shintaro Hirahara.

The Tokyo Olympics have become one of the most controversial sporting events in recent years, ravaged by a series of scandals over topics such as sexism, bullying and whether the Games should even go ahead during a global pandemic.

Tokyo itself is under a coronavirus state of emergency and Games participants and staff are largely confined to the Olympic Village, training centers and sports venues. Even the medal ceremony has been modified due to the virus and athletes will have to pick up their medals themselves to hang around their necks.

Billed as the most “innovative” ever, the Games are designed to appeal to younger people with karate, 3×3 basketball, skateboarding, climbing and surfing all making their Olympic debuts.

Baseball and softball are also back in the league for the first time since the 2008 Games in Beijing.

Skateboarding is one of the new sports in the Tokyo Games, part of an effort to appeal to a younger audience [File: Franck Robichon/EPA]

Here’s a timeline of the Tokyo Games’ stuttering progress to the starting line.

September 2013

At a ceremony in Argentina, the IOC awarded the 2020 Games to Tokyo, beating Madrid and Istanbul.

Then IOC President Jacques Rogge said Tokyo had pledged to “deliver a well-organized and safe Games that will enhance Olympic values ​​while demonstrating the benefits of sport to a new generation.”

The Japanese capital previously hosted the Summer Games in 1964.

2013 09 07T120000Z 1045275945 GM1E9980CC001 RTRMADP 3 OLYMPICS 2020GAMESThere was cheering among Japanese bid committee members in 2013 after IOC President Jacques Rogge announced Tokyo to be hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics [File: Marcos Brindicci/Reuters]

july 2015

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is shelving plans for a new national stadium by famed British architect Zaha Hadid after the project’s cost rises to more than $2 billion.

“We have decided to go back to the beginning of the stadium plan and start over from scratch,” he told a news conference.

April 2016

Organizers are unveiling a new logo for the event after plagiarism allegations forced them to drop the original design.

The indigo-checkered design by Tokyo-based Asao Tokolo is inspired by an Edo-era (1603-1867) pattern known as “ichimatsu moyo” and is believed to represent “Unity in Diversity”.

000 Hkg8972414Zaha Hadid’s proposal for a new Olympic Stadium was shelved in 2015 after costs rose [File: Tokyo 2020 Olympic Bid Committee via AFP]

August 2016

Wearing a hat similar to that of the video game character Super Mario, Abe will formally take over the Olympic baton at the end of the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

h 52980736Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the closing ceremony of the 31st Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro dressed as the popular video game character Super Mario [File: Yonhap via EPA]

February 2018

The organizers unveiled the two Summer Games mascots – Miraitowa and Someity – that thousands of elementary school children had chosen in a vote. Created by Fukuoka-based illustrator Ryo Taniguchi, the anime-style creatures — one blue and one pink — are said to symbolize tradition and innovation.

“The mascots exist in unison, a Tokyo themed yin-yang pair, ‘old meets new,'” the organizers said.

October 2019

The IOC decides to move the marathon event to the cooler regions of northern Sapporo to escape the oppressive heat and humidity of Tokyo.

h 55353835The Olympic mascots Miraitowa (left) and Tokyo 2020 Paralympic mascot Someity (right). Thousands of school children chose them in a vote. [File: Kimimasa Mayama/EPA]

Dec 2019

The first cases of a mysterious pneumonia have been reported in Wuhan in central China.

Despite the early hurdles, the construction of the new National Stadium is being completed on schedule.

The building is the work of the well-known Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.

2019 12 15T032255Z 1054771916 RC2FVD9YFATI RTRMADP 3 OLYMPICS 2020 STADIUMDespite changing the design and architect, the construction of the new National Stadium was completed in December 2019 [iTomohiro Ohsumi/Pool via Reuters]

March 2020

As the pneumonia, now attributed to a novel coronavirus, spreads around the world, the World Health Organization declares a pandemic.

On March 20, the Olympic flame, aboard a special plane from Athens, will arrive in Japan.

Four days later, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach announced a unprecedented delay to the Olympics. Abe said they would be detained by the summer of 2021 and would be “proof of a people’s victory against the coronavirus infections”.

September 2020

Abe quits his job due to ill health. His old private secretary, Yoshihide Suga, replaces him.

January 2021

COVID-19 cases on the rise in Tokyo, prompting a . statement state of emergency. Opposition to hosting the Olympics is growing in Japan.

February 2021

The organizers are releasing their first set of COVID-19 rules for the Games. Singing and dancing is prohibited and masks will have to be worn at all times, according to the Playbook.

Tokyo 2020 head Yoshiro Mori is being forced to resign over sexist comments about women that have sparked outrage both at home and abroad. “My inappropriate comments caused a lot of chaos,” he said as he… resigned.

Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto, a seven-time Olympian, takes the place of the 83-year-old former prime minister.

2021 02 17T083858Z 1266469932 RC28UL9C636W RTRMADP 3 OLYMPICS 2020 HASHIMOTOOlympic Games Minister Seiko Hashimoto, who won a bronze medal in speed skating at the 1992 Albertville Games, replaced Yoshiro Mori as head of Tokyo 2020 [File: Kyodo via Reuters]

March 2021

Foreign spectators are forbidden of the event.

The Olympic Torch Relay begins in Fukushima, the area devastated by the triple earthquake, tsunami and meltdown ten years earlier. Azusa Iwashimizu, a member of the 2011 Japan Women’s World Cup winning team, becomes the first to carry the flame at a ceremony closed to the public.

April 2021

North Korea says yes not participating in the Games due to the risks of the coronavirus.

June 2021

The Australian women’s softball team are the first athletes to arrive in Japan.

The organizers put a limit on the number of domestic fans allowed to attend each event – half the venue’s capacity to a maximum of 10,000 people.

AP21084047417864Japan’s Azusa Iwashimizu, (center), a member of the women’s national soccer team, participates in the torch relay at J-Village National Training Center in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, on March 25 [File: Philip Fong/Pool via AP Photo]

July 2021

Tokyo will announce a new state of emergency on July 8, banning all Olympic spectators from the area.

Opinion polls still show that more Japanese are against the Games than they support.

h 56993584Many Japanese worry that the Games could become a ‘super spreader’ event, even with the measures taken to contain the spread of the virus [File: Kimimasa Mayama/EPA]

The first athletes head to the Olympic village on the waterfront of Harumi and soon after, the first case of COVID-19 emerges.

Keigo Oyamada, the Japanese musician named as composer for the opening ceremony, has been forced to resign four days before the event after historic allegations of bullying and abuse surface.

AP21201173185487Medal winning athletes will have to grab their medals themselves to hang around their necks and the podium will be larger than usual to allow for physical distancing [File: Koji Sasahara/AP Photo]

Japan wins the first event of the Tokyo Olympics – a women’s softball game against Australia – on July 21.

On the eve of the opening ceremony Show Director Kentaro Kobayashi is forced to stop after images of the former comedian joking about the Holocaust resurface.

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