Following an unprecedented one-year postponement, the Tokyo Olympics are set to open on July 23. But with the coronavirus pandemic nowhere near being over, the major international sport event will not be like the typical Summer Games.

The following are questions and answers about the Olympics in the Japanese capital and what to expect during the roughly two-week event that concludes on Aug. 8.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike (2nd from L) and others pose for a photo after unveiling statues of the two Tokyo Games mascots at the Tokyo metropolitan government building on April 14, 2021. (Pool photo)(Kyodo)

Q: Will the Tokyo Olympics really be held amid the pandemic?

A: The Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee have maintained that the Olympics will go ahead, while vowing to implement sufficient anti-virus measures to prioritize the safety of participants and the people of the host country.

IOC chief Thomas Bach has said there is "no plan B" and the Japanese organizing committee has stressed it is impossible to postpone the games again.

Security checks for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are demonstrated to the media in October 2020, with security guards wearing face shields and a thermography device measuring a participant's temperature in the Japanese capital. (Kyodo)
Photo taken Nov. 17, 2020, shows the athletes' village for the postponed Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. (Kyodo)

Q: What will the athletes' experience be like during the Olympics?

A: Very different from any other Olympics. Under the current plan, athletes from overseas need to test negative for the virus within 72 hours of their departure time but will be exempt from Japan's 14-day quarantine rule.

Everyone must wear facemasks at the athletes' village, where they will be tested for the virus at least every four days. Athletes can only go to their venues and other limited locations using designated vehicles, in principle, so sightseeing or visiting restaurants and bars will not be allowed.

Q: Will fans be allowed at venues?

A: The Olympics and the Paralympics will be held without spectators from overseas. IOC and the four other organizing bodies of the Tokyo Games are due to hold a meeting in April to agree on a policy regarding the maximum capacity at venues.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach (C) visits Tokyo's new National Stadium on Nov. 17, 2020, the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the postponed Olympics and Paralympics, as well as athletics events and soccer matches. (Kyodo)
Photo taken in December 2019 shows the new National Stadium in Tokyo, unveiled to the media for the first time since its completion. (Kyodo)

Q: How is preparation going for the Olympics?

A: After the games were pushed back in March last year, the organizing committee decided to use the same venues that were scheduled to stage events in 2020. So the construction of main sports facilities and the athletes' village is mostly complete.

The committee, however, has to monitor the situation of the pandemic closely and create or improve its COVID-19 countermeasures with related bodies. Olympic and Paralympic test events also resumed in April to allow organizers to go over logistical operations.

Q: What are the sports being staged? Are there any new sports?

A: The Olympics will feature 33 sports, including fan-favorite competitions such as swimming, athletics and gymnastics.

Baseball and softball will return to the program for the first time since the 2008 Beijing Games. Meanwhile, sport climbing, surfing, skateboarding and karate will make their Olympic debuts.

Mahina Maeda competes in the women's third round of the Japan Open of Surfing on Nov. 2, 2020, on Tsurigasaki beach in Ichinomiya, Chiba Prefecture, the surfing venue of the postponed Tokyo Olympics. (Kyodo)

Q: Where are the venues?

Photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter on Jan. 5, 2020, shows Tokyo's new National Stadium, the main venue of the Olympics and Paralympics.  (Kyodo)

A: Most of the roughly 40 venues are located across Tokyo. The main Olympic venue is the National Stadium, with Japanese architect Kengo Kuma playing a key role in its creation for the 2020 Games. The stadium is known for its trademark multilayered eaves using wood from all 47 of Japan's prefectures.

Some events will be staged outside of Tokyo. The marathons have been moved to Sapporo in the northernmost main island of Hokkaido due to worries over the capital's extreme summer heat.

The cycling road races will start in Tokyo and end at Fuji International Speedway near the iconic Mt. Fuji in central Japan, while several baseball and softball games will take place in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima.

Q: Is Russia competing? What about North Korea?

A: Russia has been banned due to its state-sponsored doping scheme, but athletes with no history of doping violations will be eligible to compete. However, the use of the Russian flag and anthem is prohibited.

North Korea has said it will not send a delegation to protect its athletes during the pandemic and became the first nation to formally pull out of the Tokyo Games.

Q: Are there any other concerns related to the Olympics?

A: The extreme summer heat and humidity have been major concerns. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the average daily temperature in Tokyo topped 29 C in August last year and there were 11 days that logged 35 C or above.

The organizers will set up large fans and mist sprayers at outdoor venues, and allow spectators to bring in their own drinks.

Japan's low public support for the games is another challenge that the organizers face. A Kyodo News poll in April showed that only 24.5 percent of respondents wanted the Olympics and Paralympics to go ahead.

A large electric board in Tokyo's Shibuya area displays an alert for symptoms of heat disorder on a sweltering summer day in August 2020. (Kyodo)

Q: Is it the first time Tokyo hosts the Summer Olympics?

A: No. Tokyo hosted the 1964 Summer Games, the first Olympics ever staged in Asia. Held just 19 years after Japan's defeat in World War II, the country saw the Olympics as an opportunity to showcase its recovery and built new infrastructure, including the introduction of the shinkansen bullet train, to prepare for the games.

Japan has held two Winter Olympics -- the 1972 Games in Sapporo and the 1998 edition in Nagano.

A man holds stuffed dolls representing the Tokyo Olympics official mascot Miraitowa (L) and the Paralympics official mascot Someity on June 13, 2019. (Kyodo)

Q: What does the Olympic mascot look like?

A: The blue-and-white Olympic mascot is called Miraitowa, whose name is based on the Japanese words for future "mirai" and eternity "towa." The pink Paralympic character's name is Someity, which comes from a popular variety of cherry tree.

The mascots, designed by illustrator Ryo Taniguchi, were selected through votes by elementary school students. Miraitowa's design, inspired by the "ichimatsu" checkered pattern of the Tokyo Games logos, is a tribute to both Japan's tradition and innovation. Miraitowa is described as having the ability to "instantly teleport anywhere it wants."

Q: How has the pandemic affected the torch relay?

A: The nationwide relay began on March 25 at a ceremony held without spectators in Fukushima. Roadside spectators are asked to clap instead of cheering loudly and keep a safe distance from each other, but a huge turnout of fans in some segments has become a headache for the organizers.

The relay was taken off of public roads in Osaka Prefecture due to a surge in virus cases and may be scaled down or called off in some other areas depending on the situation of the pandemic.

The Tokyo Olympic torch relay starts at the J-Village soccer training center on March 25, 2021, in the northeastern Japan prefecture of Fukushima. (Kyodo)

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