9 things you probably didn’t know about the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020Subscribe to Showmax Pro
As the world’s best athletes gear up to compete, we look into some of the ways this year’s games will differ to previous instalments.
The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 were postponed to 2021 as result of the Covid pandemic. It’s going to look very different to previous editions, with strict protocols in place, no spectators and no public viewing areas in the host city.
Despite the changes, sports fans around the world are eagerly awaiting Tokyo 2020, which will run from 23 July to 8 August 2021. Showmax Pro subscribers will have access to live streams of every event that is made available to SuperSport by the Olympic Broadcast Services, including the opening and closing ceremonies, and every medal event.
While you wait for your favourite events, check out these interesting facts about this year’s edition.
1. New and forgotten sports
Through the long history of the Olympics, we have seen sports being added and others removed. A sport must be extensively practised in at least 75 nations spread across four continents in order to be considered for inclusion in the list of Summer Olympics sports.
Tokyo 2020 will see the inclusion of new sports such as surfing, skateboarding and karate. South Africa will be competing in 17 of the 33 Olympic sports, including some of the newly introduced events.
In the future we may see sports such as polo and bowling being added to the Olympics. However, some sports have not managed to stay an Olympic sport for long, such as cricket, which was an Olympic Sport just once, in Paris 1900.
2. Locally produced Olympic kits
In the early days of the Olympics, held in ancient Greece, athletes paid no mind to being geared up in sponsored kits. In fact, these athletes competed naked. As the modern games began, athletes began to focus on being kitted out in gear that would enhance their performance and look good on camera.
This is the first time the South African Olympics team will wear a kit that is locally produced. The kit for both the Olympics and Paralympic Games was designed by emerging designers from KwaZulu-Natal.
3. Africa at the Olympics
The first African athlete to be awarded an Olympic medal was Abebe Bikila, who won the Rome Olympic Marathon in 1960. Running barefoot, the Ethiopian athlete beat the record for the marathon by almost eight seconds. Not only did Bikila achieve this impressive feat, he also beat his own record at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, thus becoming the first athlete to win two Olympic marathons.
There will be more than 45 African countries competing at Tokyo 2020. We look forward to seeing many more records broken and medals coming home to the continent. At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, African athletes earned 45 medals — the largest number of medals the continent has won.
4. The location of the Olympics
Tokyo 2020 will mark the second time Tokyo has hosted the Summer Olympics, following on from the 1964 Games. The location of the Olympic Games is chosen by the International Olympics Committee through an election in which each member of the committee is awarded one vote.
Although more than 50 African nations are IOC members, to date the games have not been held on the African continent. The 2022 Summer Youth Olympics in Dakar will become the first-ever Games to be held in Africa.
5. Eco-friendly Olympic medals
During the ancient Olympics, there was just one medal — gold for the winner — as opposed to the three medals we now have at the modern games. The modern Olympic Games now award gold, silver and bronze medals to the athletes who rank top three in their event.
Tokyo 2020 has taken the medals a step further by introducing new technology and implementing a more sustainable way of forging Olympic medals. The medals at Tokyo 2020 will be made using recycled materials from products such as old electronics. Japanese citizens donated more than 78 tonnes of recycled goods to produce the 32 kilograms of gold, 3 500 kilograms of silver and 2 200 kilograms of bronze.
6. Where the Olympic rings came from
The Olympic rings are an internationally recognised symbol, and were first presented in 1913. They were originally designed by Pierre de Coubertin — the founder of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) — who drew them at the top of a letter he penned, according to the IOC.
The five rings represent the world’s continents: Africa, Asia, Australia, the Americas and Europe, and are interlinked to symbolise a unified world and the coming together of athletes from different continents to compete.
The use of colour in the design by Coubertin is detailed as representing the colours in national flags of counties that competed at the 1912 Olympic Games. Contrary to popular belief, the colours are not symbolic of or associated with any particular continent.
7. Bots and facial recognition tech
As Tokyo is a leader in technology and innovation, Tokyo 2020 has provided the country an opportunity to showcase its latest tech. Allegations are that robots will be present at the Olympics and will be used to provide information to any spectators and transport for food.
Tokyo 2020 will be the first to utilise large-scale facial recognition technology in addition to robotics. This method is intended to increase security and provide an improved method of access to restricted areas for athletes, officials and other approved guests.
8. The cancellation of the Olympic Games
The first ever Olympic Games were held in Olympia in the 8th Century BC. They were then banned by Emperor Theodosius. Around 1 500 years later, the games were resurrected and the first modern Olympics took place in Greece in 1896.
Since then, the Olympics have only been cancelled three times in history. The games were cancelled in 1916 due to World War I, and in 1940 and 1944 due to World War II. The Covid-19 pandemic and its subsequent national lockdowns led to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 being postponed by a year, making history as the first games to be postponed rather than cancelled.
9. The Olympic Refugee Team
As the Olympics strives to celebrate sport as a way to unify nations, the IOC established an Olympic Refugee Team for the 2016 Olympics. This would allow athletes to compete even if they had been forced to flee their home country.
Tokyo 2020 will be the second time a refugee team has been assembled to compete. This year’s Olympic Refugee Team is made up of 29 athletes, competing across 12 sports.
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In celebration of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, Showmax Pro is launching a special offer to subscribers. From 2 July 2021 to 31 August 2021, Showmax Pro subscribers who sign up for Showmax’s sports offering will receive two months of access for the price of one.
Find out more about Showmax Pro and Showmax Pro Mobile here.