Jun 23, 2021 - Sports

Tokyo Olympics set to begin in a month

Illustration of the coronavirus in the shape of the Olympic rings.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Tokyo Olympics are set to begin a month from today, with the opening ceremony scheduled for July 23.

The state of play: Support for the Games seems to be growing among the Japanese public, but there's persistent opposition from those who are concerned about the health risks.

COVID-19 cases: Japan is seeing relatively low case counts after a surge last month. So far, about one in every 161 people in Japan has tested positive (in the U.S. that number is about one in 10).

Vaccinations: Just 7% of Japan's residents are fully vaccinated and roughly 18% have received at least one shot, putting Japan's vaccination rates among the lowest of its peers.

The event: While the Games may still end up wowing TV audiences, the on-the-ground experience is going to be quiet, isolated and strange.

  • Testing: Athletes will be tested daily in the Olympic Village, after being tested at least twice before leaving home, and once upon arrival.
  • Living: Normally a place for socializing and celebrating, this year's Olympic Village is a sanitized bubble full of testing centers. The "city within a city" has 21 residential towers with 3,600 rooms. Take a tour.
  • Fans: Local fans are permitted (for now), but venues are limited to 50% capacity (up to 10,000 fans). Attendees must wear masks, can't cheer or buy alcohol, and must go straight home afterward.
  • Media: NBCUniversal will broadcast 7,000 hours of programming surrounding the Games. That includes 17 consecutive nights in primetime with host Mike Tirico.

Meet Team USA: Welcome to the post-Phelps era. There are familiar names (like Ledecky and Biles), but plenty of new ones too (like Dressel and Richardson).

  • Track & Field: Sha'Carri Richardson (above) is vying to become the first American woman to win the 100 meters since Gail Devers in 1996. In April, she ran the sixth-fastest women's 100 ever.
  • Swimming: The 50-member swim team features 11 teenagers, the most since 1996. Three Americans qualified in three or more individual events: Caeleb Dressel, Katie Ledecky and Michael Andrew.
  • Soccer: The women's roster (18 players, four alternates) will be revealed today. The men failed to qualify.
  • Men's basketball: The 12-man roster is nearly finalized. Here are the 11 players who've committed: Durant, Harden, Lillard, Booker, Tatum, Beal, Middleton, Adebayo, Green, Holiday, and Love.

In photos

The $15.4 billion National Stadium.
Photo: Jinhee Lee/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • The $15.4 billion National Stadium will serve as the main venue for the opening and closing ceremonies, while also hosting track & field events.
The countdown clock.
Photo: Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images
  • The countdown clock shows 30 days until the opening ceremony.
Some coronavirus restrictions remain in Tokyo and elsewhere.
Photo: Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images
  • The Japanese government ended the state of emergency in most prefectures this weekend as cases continue to fall, though some restrictions remain in Tokyo and elsewhere.
The self-driving vehicles that will be used to shuttle athletes.
Photo: Berouz Mehri/AFP via Getty Images
  • Self-driving vehicles will be used to shuttle athletes from the Olympic village to event venues and other pre-set routes.
A replica of a room in the Olympic Village.
Photo: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images
  • A replica of a room in the Olympic Village.

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