The Tokyo Olympics will open Friday following the first-ever postponement as the largest global event to be staged since the coronavirus swept the world early last year.

In order to minimize the risk of infections, organizers have put in place many restrictions, making the Tokyo Games unlike any other Olympics in the past.

The following are questions and answers about the Olympics in the Japanese capital and what to expect during the 17-day games that conclude Aug. 8.

Q: How are the Tokyo Olympics different from previous Summer Games?

A: The biggest difference is that most competitions will be held without in-person crowds to prevent the spread of COVID-19, turning the games into effectively a TV-only event.

The number of visiting officials and workers from abroad has been cut to less than one-third of the initial figure.

There are strict rules that must be followed by athletes, and their interaction with the Japanese public is limited.

People wearing masks amid the novel coronavirus pandemic walk in Tokyo's Shibuya district on July 22, 2021, a day before the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. (Kyodo) 

Q: What are some of the safety measures and rules that athletes must follow?

A: The organizing bodies of the Olympics and Paralympics have created a set of "playbooks" outlining anti-COVID-19 measures and responsibilities that all participants must follow.

Athletes need to take coronavirus tests on a daily basis, in principle, and will be isolated quickly if they are confirmed to be infected.

They must wear face masks at the athletes' village and can only go to their venues and other limited locations using designated vehicles, in principle, so sightseeing or visits to restaurants and bars are not permitted.

Q: What has the COVID situation been like recently in Tokyo?

A: Tokyo has been seeing a spike in coronavirus infections and has been under a state of emergency since July 12.

The number of cases may be small compared with other major cities in the world, but the Japanese capital this month logged over 1,900 daily cases for the first time since mid-January due to the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.


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Q: How many athletes are competing?

A: Over 11,000 athletes from over 200 national Olympic committees will compete. Japan's Olympic team will comprise a record 583 athletes.

The IOC Refugee Olympic Team will feature 29 athletes originating from 11 countries, and it will be nearly three times larger than the first-ever squad at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

Russia has been banned due to its state-sponsored doping scheme, but athletes with no history of doping violations will be eligible to participate. North Korea will not send a delegation to protect its athletes during the pandemic.

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

A: The Olympics will feature 33 sports, including high-profile competitions like swimming, athletics and gymnastics. There will be 339 medal events.

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.

Q: Where are the competition venues?

A: Over half of the 42 venues are located in Tokyo. The main Olympic venue is the National Stadium. Japanese architect Kengo Kuma played a key role in its creation, and it features 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 heat.

Surfing will make its debut at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach in Ichinomiya, Chiba Prefecture. Some events will take place in Fukushima and

Miyagi in the country's northeast, which was devastated by a major earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster in March 2011.

Q: What is the Tokyo Olympic athletes' village like?

A: The 44-hectare village in Tokyo's Harumi waterfront district houses 21 residential buildings with 18,000 beds made of cardboard and features various facilities including dining halls, a fitness center, doping control center and fever clinic.

Satellite athlete villages in existing hotels are also located in Oiso, Kanagawa Prefecture, and Izu, Shizuoka Prefecture, for sailing and cycling teams, respectively.

Photo shows residential buildings in the athletes' village for the Tokyo Olympics in the Japanese capital on July 14, 2021, ahead of the July 23 opening ceremony of the Summer Games. (Kyodo)

Q: What kind of anti-virus measures are in place at the main athletes' village?

A: Olympic athletes need to limit their stays in the village to a minimum by checking in five days before they compete, in principle, while para-athletes can check in seven days ahead. They are then required to leave the site within two days of their events finishing.

A fever clinic located at the center of the village operates 24 hours a day to enable polymerase chain reaction tests to be conducted and to isolate those confirmed as infected with the virus.

Depending on the severity of symptoms, those infected will be hospitalized or sent to quarantine at a designated hotel outside the village.

It is not prohibited to bring alcohol into the village, but residents are asked to drink alone in their rooms.

Q: What happens to athletes who are identified as close contacts of someone with COVID?

A: Close contacts will be confirmed by Japanese health authorities, but Olympic organizers are planning to allow them to compete in the games if they meet several conditions, including testing negative for the virus within six hours before their scheduled event.

Q: What do the Japanese people think of the Olympics?

A: Public support for the games plunged after the outbreak of the coronavirus. According to a nationwide survey conducted by Kyodo News in July, 87.0 percent of respondents are concerned about a potential spike in infections as a result of Tokyo hosting the games this summer.

Some sponsors have been distancing themselves from the games. Toyota Motor Corp. said it will not air TV commercials related to the Olympics in Japan.

IOC President Thomas Bach said in an interview that he expects enthusiasm to build once the flame is lit at the National Stadium during the opening ceremony.

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

A: The extreme summer heat and its impact on athletes, especially those competing in outdoor endurance events.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the temperature is expected to exceed 30 C on many days in July and August.

A rescue official pours water on his head during official practice for the Tokyo Olympics at Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre in Tokyo amid a scorching heat wave on July 20, 2021, three days before the opening ceremony of the games. (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, derived from the name of a popular variety of cherry tree.

The mascots, designed by illustrator Ryo Taniguchi, were selected through votes by elementary school students.

Photo taken July 1, 2020, shows the official mascots of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics -- Miraitowa (L) and Someity -- on display at the Tokyo metropolitan government building next to a countdown board to the rescheduled games. (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 build 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 Games in Nagano.

Q: Where will the next Olympics take place?

A: The next Summer Olympics in 2024 will be held in Paris, where breakdancing will be added to the program for the first time. The 2028 edition will be in Los Angeles, while the IOC decided on July 21 that the Australian city of Brisbane will stage the 2032 Olympics.

The next Winter Olympics will be held in February in Beijing, which staged the Summer Games in 2008. Milano Cortina in Italy holds the 2026 Winter Games.

People look at an Olympics rings monument lit up after sunset in Tokyo on July 21, 2021, two days ahead of the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony. (Kyodo)