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Traveling to Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Games FAQ

The Summer Games is one of the biggest and most anticipated sporting events in the world. For most people, getting there is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We’ve compiled everything you need to know about traveling to Tokyo in 2021 and our best Summer Games tips to help you make the most of your experience at the Summer Games.

When are the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo?

The Summer Games usually take place every four years. The next edition is the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, which were postponed by a year due to COVID-19 concerns. The rescheduled dates are July 23 – August 8, 2021. Some facts about these Summer Games:

  • Number of days: 17
  • Athletes expected to compete: over 11,000
  • Number of events: 321
  • Number of sports: 33, including 5 new sports
  • Number of countries expected to take part: 206

Future Summer Games dates:
July 26 – August 11, 2024 in Paris, France
July 21 – August 6, 2028 in Los Angeles, USA

What do you get for winning a Summer Games event?

Most people are familiar with the gold, silver and bronze medals athletes receive for finishing first, second, and third respectively. In many cases, that’s not all they’ll receive. Many countries’ competition committees also offer a cash prize to go along with the hardware.

Of course, there’s more to winning than the medal and possible prize money. Winners gain notoriety — especially within their home country — and in some cases, endorsements and sponsorship deals. Some athletes also receive gifts from local or national businesses.

How do athletes qualify for the Summer Games?

The qualification process differs, depending on the event. Each sport is governed by an international sports federation. There are different methods determining who qualifies for the Summer Games. Some sports hold specific trial competitions. Some are based on performance over the period leading up to the Games. For team sports, the team is selected based on athletes’ performance. To encourage global participation, there are limits on the number of athletes that can participate for a country in each event, as well as quotas for certain regions. The hosting country also receives automatic qualification in many events.

What other countries bid to host the 2020 Summer Games?

Other countries that were interested in hosting the 2020 Summer Games included Istanbul, Turkey; Madrid, Spain; Rome, Italy; Baku, Azerbaijan; and Doha, Qatar. The field was narrowed down to three candidates: Tokyo, Istanbul, and Madrid. Madrid was the first city to be eliminated, followed by Istanbul, after Tokyo won the vote to host the 2020 Summer Games.

How many people will attend the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo?

As host to one of the biggest sporting events in the world, Tokyo will be the place to be in the summer of 2021. 11,000 athletes from 206 countries are expected to compete at the Summer Games. As for spectators, it’s hard to estimate. At the last Summer Games in Rio, over a million visitors descended on the city to take in the events.

What merchandise will be available at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo?

The merchandise at the Summer Games is always a big part of the event. Many want a souvenir of their once-in-a-lifetime experience or gifts for loved ones back at home. You’ll find almost every kind of souvenir and collectible possible, from pins to plush characters to clothing. Much of the merchandise will feature the Summer Games mascots, a futuristic duo chosen by Japanese school children.

What venues will the Summer Games be hosted in?

The Summer Games in 2021 will take place in 33 different venues. The majority of these (28) are divided into two zones — the Heritage Zone and the Tokyo Bay Zone. The appropriately named Heritage Zone houses seven venues that were used in the 1964 Summer Games.

What is the history of the Summer and Winter Games in Japan?

Japan is certainly no stranger to the Summer and Winter Games. The 2020 Games will mark the second time Tokyo has hosted the Summer Games; they also hosted in 1964 and will use many of the same venues. Japan also hosted the Winter Games in 1972 in Sapporo and in 1998 in Nagano.

What is the population of the Tokyo where the 2020 Summer Games are being held?

The greater Tokyo area is home to over 13 million people. Add in the surrounding prefectures and the number jumps to approximately 38 million people!

What sports will be at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo?

There will be a total of 33 sports at the 2020 Summer Games, including five new ones that are making their debut (or return):

  • Aquatics
  • Archery
  • Athletics
  • Badminton
  • Baseball/Softball (new)
  • Basketball
  • Boxing
  • Canoe
  • Cycling
  • Equestrian
  • Fencing
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Handballs
  • Hockey
  • Judo
  • Karate (new)
  • Modern Pentathlon
  • Rowing
  • Rugby
  • Sailing
  • Shooting
  • Skateboarding (new)
  • Sport Climbing (new)
  • Surfing (new)
  • Table Tennis
  • Taekwondo
  • Tennis
  • Triathlon
  • Volleyball
  • Weightlifting
  • Wrestling

What landmarks, sights, attractions etc. are near the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo?

There are plenty of things to do in Tokyo and things to see other than the Summer Games (check out our blog post on whether Tokyo is worth a visit!). Visitors may want to check out Sensoji Temple and Asakusa Shrine in the Asakusa district, go shopping in the fashion mecca of Ginza, experience the sight of Shibuya crossing (known as the busiest intersection in the world), marvel at the views of Mount Fuji, or try out some of the incredible Tokyo food and drink. Our pre-travel concierge team can help you plan an itinerary specific to your interests.

Are there many English speakers in Tokyo?

While English is commonly studied in school and many Japanese citizens will know at least a few English words, the majority will not be fluent in the language. That said, you are more likely to find English speakers in Tokyo than anywhere else in the country. For the 2020 Summer Games, you’re likely to find English signage in and around the venues. Roadtrips’ guests will have access to bilingual local hosts who can assist with any language issues. In addition, English-speaking staff can be found at all our Summer Games hotels.

How is Japanese etiquette different from the West?

Etiquette is very important in the Japanese culture. A few customs to be aware of:

  • Punctuality is valued. If you are going to be late (e.g. a restaurant reservation), it is appreciated if you call to let the other party know.
  • Bowing is the standard way to greet someone, thank them, or say goodbye.
  • When giving or receiving something (e.g. gift, business card) use two hands.
  • Tipping is not customary in Japan.
  • Removing your footwear is expected in private homes, as well as temples and some traditional restaurants.
  • Speaking on your phone on buses or trains is considered rude.

Roadtrips’ local hosts are well-versed in Japanese culture and will keep you up to speed.

When do 2020 Summer Games packages go on sale?

2020 Summer Games packages are available now. Contact one of our Sports Travel Specialists to get started planning your experience.