Tokyo Olympics 2020 is set to begin in eight days. The Olympics is being held amid the raging coronavirus pandemic. The host city, Tokyo, is in a state of emergency, which is expected to be the case throughout the Summer Games.
But the Olympic organizing committee is confident of conducting a successful games. The president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, has hailed Tokyo as the "best-ever prepared" host city.
Thomas Bach also told Tokyo Olympics 2020 chief Seiko Hashimoto that the organizers were "doing a fantastic job." The first batch of athletes have arrived in the Olympic village. But despite all the efforts from the organizing committee and the volunteers to make it a normal Olympics, the Tokyo Games will be different from its predecessors.
Here are five things that will make Tokyo Olympics "different"
#5. No live audience at Olympic venues
Tokyo has been put in a state of emergency to control the spread of coronavirus. Large scale public gatherings have been banned in the city. This also means that spectators would be banned from nearly all venues. Spectators from abroad had already been banned months ago. The decision to ban spectators came after the Olympic Organizing Committee set a limit for the entry of spectators to the Games.
Earlier, the organizing committee had permitted an Olympic venue to be full to 50% of its capacity up to a maximum of 10,000 people. But with Tokyo entering yet another state of emergency, spectators have been strictly banned from the Olympic venues. So all the events will be held in front of empty stands.
#4. No condoms for athletes at Olympic Village
To control the spread of coronavirus within the Olympic village, the Tokyo Olympics Organizing committee has also decided that condoms won't be distributed to the athletes during their stay in the village. However, condoms shall be given to the athletes on their departure from the village as a "souvenir".
The Olympic village will have a somber look as strict social distancing norms will be maintained, and daily mandatory testing will be conducted on the participating athletes. Athletes have also been asked to check into the Games Village five days before their competition begins.
#3. Self-help medal cermony
The medal ceremony at the Tokyo Olympics will also be different. The Tokyo Olympics is moving away from traditional medal ceremonies which see the medal winner climb the podium, shake hands and hug or kiss the dignitaries and then bow to get the medals hung around their necks.
At the Tokyo Games, the medal winners will be presented their medals on a tray and they then will hang the medals around their own neck, of course in front of the empty stands. The person who will be putting the medals on the medal tray will be using disinfected gloves. Also the athletes and the medal presenters will have to wear masks at the time of the medal ceremony.
#2. Regulations for athlete testing positive for COVID-19
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), in association with international sports federations, has published Sport-Specific Regulations (SSR) for scenarios where a competing athlete could test postive for COVID-19 amid the Games.
In general, an athlete or a team would be forced to withdraw from the event if they test positive for COVID-19. They will not be marked as 'disqualified' instead they will be marked 'Did not Start' (DNS) for the purpose of record books. For team sports, if a team tests positive ahead of their knockout game, then the team will be withdrawn and the team they beat in the previous round will replace them.
For individual events, an athlete who tests positive would be withdrawn and the next highest ranked athlete from the previous round will take their place. In case of finals, the athlete testing positive will be awarded the silver medal and the opponent will win the gold medal.
#1. Two flag-bearers at the Opening Ceremony
In an encouraging move by the IOC, the governing body has encouraged the deployment of two flag-bearers, one male and one female, at the opening ceremony for the Games.
To encourage gender equality, the IOC has for the first time ever allowed and encouraged all 206 NOCs to have their flag carried by one female and one male athlete at the Opening Ceremony. The move was announced in February.
India's men's hockey team skipper Manpreet Singh and Olympic bronze medalist MC Mary Kom will be carrying the Indian tri-color at the opening ceremony.