Guest writer Mildred Paul takes a look at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, which are set to take place in a simplified form.


We can now expect a more subdued Olympics in 2021. Toshiro Muto, chief executive of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, announced in June that next year’s Games will be “simplified,” and will “not be done with grand splendour”. Organisers added that they are currently working on over 200 ideas to simplify what has traditionally been the grandest spectacle in all of sports and reduce the costs of staging it.

The announcement comes three months after the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) executive board first postponed the quadrennial meet for next July on the heels of a worldwide health crisis. The rescheduled and simplified Games will take place from 23 July to 8 August 2021, a full year removed from their original 24 August–5 September 2020 schedule.

Speaking at a news conference, Muto clarified that while the organisers now have over 200 ideas, they still don’t have a concrete plan of action on how to simplify the Games. He did emphasise the “need to review and understand international federations, national Olympic committees, broadcasters and partners.” In doing so, Muto also called on these stakeholders “to act in unison to make sure of a simplified Games.”

Christophe Dubi, IOC executive director for the Olympic Games, expressed his support for a simplified Olympics, but made it clear that they will continue to be “about sport and the athletes.” So far it doesn’t appear that any sport will be excluded from the games, and that the simplification will only affect the staging.

“This is a line we do not cross, excellence on the field of play and conditions that allow athletes to shine,” said Dubi. “We will not leave any stone unturned… The work is ongoing and will take time but the result will be positive.”

A positive result is something the sports world certainly needs right now. The global health situation has completely rejigged the sporting calendar, leaving it without some high-profile events, like Wimbledon and the British Open (both cancelled) as well as Euro 2020 (moved to next year). The most glaring omission is that of the Olympics, though, as it has effected the most countries and athletes.

Yet, halfway through 2020, sports around the world are gradually making a comeback. That said, most sports still have to do a lot of catching up. Bwin Sports report that despite the Olympic Games being rescheduled, there is still a backlog of world titles to be decided. Notably, the 2020 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is scheduled to push through (October 18 to November 15), with 16 nations vying for cricket supremacy. Formula One has resumed, too, giving Lewis Hamilton the opportunity to tie Michael Schumacher’s record of 7 world championships in F1. Boxing has adapted to the new normal, and that should pave the way for Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder III for the WBC heavyweight title in October after being pushed back from July.

While the above sports will keep people going until next year there is no doubt that the Olympics has left the 2020 sporting calendar feeling very empty. For sporting fans though, 2021 should more than make up for it with a simplified Olympics being the main event of next year.