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Tokyo 2020
23 JULY - 8 AUGUST 2021

Tokyo 2020 and
the Japan Rail Pass

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Tokyo Olympics

Set to take place from 23 July to 8 August 2021, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will literally be history in the making as Japan aims to stage the most innovative and spectacular summer games of all time. More than 50 years have passed since Japan last hosted the Olympics in 1964 and the country has changed radically in those decades.

Tokyo 1964 had a huge impact on the nation - it was the first ever Olympic Games to be staged in Asia and it had a transformative effect on the region, economically, socially and culturally. Tokyo 2020 will be bigger and better in every way and will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for visitors to Japan in 2020.

The Tokyo 2020 organising committee have set out to create ‘the most innovative’ Olympic Games ever organised, and their vision rests on three fundamental principles to transform the world - striving for your personal best (achieving your personal best); accepting one another (unity in diversity); and passing on a legacy for the future (connecting to tomorrow). These inspiring ideals look set to be realised with an Olympic Games embracing new technologies, ambitious ideas, a hugely welcoming and inclusive spirit - and a real sense of fun.

The sure-to-be spectacular opening and closing ceremonies will take place at a brand new, 68-000 seater National Stadium that is currently being built in Tokyo specifically for the 2020 Olympics Games. It promises to be one of the world’s most impressive and state-of-art sporting and cultural arenas. This is just one example of Japan’s huge investment into making Tokyo 2020 into an extraordinary spectacle for international visitors.

From 20-time Grand Slam Tennis champion Roger Federer to seven-time surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore to the history-making Rugby Olympians, all the big names are hoping to be at Tokyo 2020 next year. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics will feature a total of 55 sports, from aquatics to wrestling (and everything in-between!) with 33 sports currently scheduled for the Olympics and 22 for the Paralympics.

However, there may be more to come. In a new addition for 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has offered organisers the opportunity to propose additional events from the following five sports - Baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing. This is a new innovation for Tokyo 2020 and the selection of these new sports has been based on ‘youth and urban appeal’ - a further example of Japan’s Olympics vision being focussed on new and future generations.

olympics sports

33 sports are currently scheduled, with all 28 sports from the official Olympic Programme plus five additional sports. From Athletics, Gymnastics and Cycling, Archery, Equestrian and Hockey to Football, Tennis and Rugby, plus many other sports, there will be something for every sports fan at Tokyo 2020.

  • Football
  • Rugby
  • Athletics
  • Weightlifting
  • Cycling
  • Swimming

Paralympics Sports

22 sports are currently scheduled for inclusion with badminton and taekwondo making their Paralympic debuts.

  • Badminton
  • Taekwondo
  • Athletics
  • Weightlifting
  • Cycling
  • Swimming

Based on the current schedule, Tokyo 2020 is set to make history as the most gender balanced Olympics in history with 48.2% participation by women. This is yet another example of the way Japan is looking to make the 2020 Olympic Games the most innovative, diverse and inclusive of all time.

You can find a full list of both Olympic and Paralympic Sports on the official Olympic Games website.

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The venues

‘Infinite Excitement’ is the name of the Tokyo 2020 ‘venue plan’ and rarely has a name been so well chosen. It perfectly captures the country’s attitude towards hosting the games and the atmosphere it wants to create for visitors to Japan in 2020. In keeping with the reforms advocated by Olympic Agenda 2020, the Tokyo Games will re-use prestigious venues first built for the 1964 games such as the Nippon Budokkan for judo, the Baji Koen Park for equestrian events and the Yoyogi National Gymnasium for handball.

The National Stadium, which was used as the main stadium for the 1964 Games, is currently being rebuilt as a brand new stadium for 2020. The opening and closing ceremonies will be held here along with Athletics events and Football matches.


The 'Venue plan' for
Tokyo 2020

The ‘venue plan’ for Tokyo 2020 is divided into two thematic and operational zones - the ‘Heritage Zone’ featuring iconic venues used at the Tokyo 1964 Games and the ‘Tokyo Bay Zone’ which serves as a model for innovative urban development and symbolises the exciting future of the city.

These two zones expand across the city to form an ‘infinity’ symbol with the Athletes' Village positioned at the point where the two zones intersect – at the physical and spiritual heart of the Games. According to the organisers, the infinity symbol was chosen to ‘embody the boundless passion, commitment and inspiration of the world's elite athletes, the limitless potential of future generations, and the lasting legacy that will be passed on to the people of Tokyo, Japan and the world’.

getting around Tokyo

If you’re planning to stay in Tokyo itself, the best way to get around might be a prepaid travel card for the subway alongside a Japan Rail Pass for domestic trains. Your Japan Rail Pass already covers you for travel on the circular Tokyo subway JR Yamanote Line, but not the 13 subway lines which run off this so a ICOCA, PASMO or Suica card may come in handy.

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However, several Olympic events are taking place outside Tokyo and you may also want to consider staying outside of the city during the Games, to save money and avoid the crowds, while commuting in the for the big events. There are many train lines going right into Tokyo and getting into the centre of Tokyo can be fast, via local JR lines, such as the Tokaido line, or even the Shinkansen. Booking a hotel outside of Tokyo may also give you a much better rate.

There are cities close-by Tokyo, like Yokohama, that offer a great alternative as a place to stay, and is only a 20 minute Shinkansen ride away from Tokyo. The Japan Rail Pass includes unlimited travel, so you do not have to worry about transport fees.

You may also want to venture further into Japan if you’re a fan of certain sports as there are plans to stage Olympic football, baseball and softball events across the country in cities such as Sapporo. 

exploring Japan

If you’re travelling to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics, it is a perfect opportunity to explore the rest of this beautiful and unique country. Your Olympic travel plans need to look beyond Tokyo if you want to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore Japan. From the Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines of Kyoto, to the spectacular Mount Fuji, the beautiful and mountainous Southern Alps, and the coastal wonders of the Northern regions, Japan has a deserved reputation as one of the most spectacular and unforgettable countries in the world.

The Tokyo Olympics will be an incredible experience, but you may also want to escape the metropolis in between sporting events to see the rest of Japan and with cities like Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe, only a 2-3 hour ride away on the Shinkansen bullet trains, why not?

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Japan Rail Pass

The best way to travel around Japan is using the extensive rail network, use the hyperfast Shinkansen bullet trains for intercity travel, then connect to one of the countless local trains for access anywhere in Japan. The Japan Rail Pass covers travel between all JR lines nationwide and all for an unbeatable price. The Japan Rail Pass comes in periods of 7, 14 and 21 consecutive days.

The most cost efficient option for travellers. For example, a 7-day JR Pass is about the same price as a return ticket Tokyo - Kyoto using the Shinkansen. You can also upgrade to 1st class for more space, extra leg room and easier luggage storage. This is an especially good option for relaxing during the busier travel periods of the year.

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Tokyo 2020 olympics
in numbers

  • 206 countries will be represented
  • 45k staff and volunteers will be working at the event
  • 11+k athletes are scheduled to participate
  • 22 Paralympic Sports
  • 18 mixed or open events
  • 18
    additional events featuring baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing
  • 156
    events for women
  • 165
    events for men
  • 33
    Olympic Sports
  • 68k
    seats in the brand-new National Stadium, currently being built in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics


The Tokyo 2020 Games aims to be the most innovative in history and will feature a number of hugely exciting new ideas. One of the most talked-about is the incredible ‘Robot Project’. The objective of the project is to promote robots for social good and demonstrate a positive future for the world by promoting widespread social use of robotic technologies.

This will include special support for wheelchair users via dedicated Human Support Robots (HSR) and Delivery Support Robots (DSR) as ushers, power-assisted harnesses for staff and volunteers to aid manual tasks, colourful and big-eyed anime-style mascot robots and humanoid robots, which will act as greeters, and autonomous drone-style robots who will assist in certain events, including sporting events, and others that will beam back images from key events to those watching elsewhere to help them feel part of the action.

The five robots unveiled by Toyota so far:

  • Tokyo 2020 mascot robots - based on the colourful Tokyo 2020 mascots named Miraitowa and Someity.
  • T-HR3 Humanoid robots
  • T-TR1 Remote communication location robots
  • Human Support Robots (HSR)
  • Field Support Robots (FSR)

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics schedule is subject to change between now and July 2020 when the Games begin. Check the official Olympics Games and Tokyo 2020 websites for the most up-to-date information.

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