The 2021 Olympics was in full swing, and yet everywhere viewers look, they saw the phrase “Tokyo 2020.”
On the surface, that seemed strange. Sure, the Olympics were originally scheduled for 2020, but obviously they were held in 2021.
So why didn’t the organizers decide to change the year of the Olympic Games? Per usual, it boiled down to one simple thing: money.
A Tokyo organizing committee source told Yahoo Sports that production of “Tokyo 2020” merchandise had begun before the Games were postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, these products would be rendered useless if the organizers changed the name.
Last year in March, torches, medals, other branding items, and merchandise were already being made using the name ‘Tokyo 2020’ and a name change would have meant additional costs.
As sports marketer Michael Lynch detailed, that intellectual property is “the primary asset” for the IOC, so any sort of change would have been unnecessary and costly.
“The primary asset the IOC and Tokyo Organizing Committee sells is its intellectual property and the corresponding brand equity associated with the marks, logos, designations, symbols, etc.,” Lynch told Yahoo Sports. “All that Olympic IP is branded 2020, including IOC and [organizing committee] creative, sponsor creative, advertising creative, promotional creative, licensed merchandise, tickets, on-site signage, events, you name it, all about to hit the market. It would be an enormous and unnecessary expense for all of this Olympic IP to be changed.”
That explains why the IOC was quick to announce the name would remain “Tokyo 2020” regardless of when they were held. It confirmed the name would stay on March 24, 2020, in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Considering the other losses the IOC and Olympics have dealt with because of fans not being able to be present at the Games, keeping the name was the prudent move. Nonetheless, while the logos and merchandise said 2020, many fans and Olympic enthusiasts (and SN) still referred to the Games as the 2021 Olympics.
The 21 year-old is the third athlete to fail a doping test at Tokyo 2020. Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare and Kenyan 100m runner Mark Otieno Odhiambo were both previously suspended for drug violations.
World 5000m record holder Joshua Cheptegei produced a 55-second final lap to become the first Ugandan to win the event as he bagged the Olympic gold at the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympics games.
The 24-year-old set the pace early in the 12-and-a-half-lap race but was soon overtaken by a host of his competitors on a balmy evening at the Olympic Stadium.
Cheptegei unleashed a magic kick to to cross the line in 12:58.15 ahead of Canada’s Mohammad Ahmed and Chelimo.
It was easily the quickest 5000m Olympic final since Bekele’s victory in Beijing 13 years ago, and Cheptegei looked to ease to victory when he took full control on the final lap.
“It’s really a great moment,” the Ugandan hero said after the race. “I made a small mistake and I was regretting [having] to become a silver medallist. I came here to become an Olympic champion and my dream has been fulfilled today in a beautiful evening.”
Doping suspicions aimed at Italy’s 100 metres Olympic champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs are embarrassing and unpleasant, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) president Giovanni Malago said on Tuesday.
Jacobs claimed a stunning gold on Sunday, setting a European record time of 9.80 seconds in the showcase final in Tokyo despite having not gone under 10 seconds until this year.
However, the 26-year-old’s unexpected victory resulted in the Washington Post writing that “the history of track and field casts suspicion on sudden and immense improvement”, a reference to previous doping cases.
“Jacobs deserves the benefit of the doubt, but his sport does not,” the article added.
The Times wrote that athletics’ dark history with doping “means the arrival of any new star will alert the more sceptical”.
But Malago blasted any suggestion of wrongdoing.
“The remarks of some of your colleagues are a source of great regret and embarrassment from every point of view,” Malago told Rai Radio 1.
“We are talking about athletes, in this case, who are subjected to systematic and daily anti-doping checks.
“When you set a national or even continental record that number doubles, so much so that he said the number of checks was impressive.
“It is truly something unpleasant, it shows how some are not able to accept defeat.”
Jacobs was one of several high-profile athletes to wear new running spikes featuring “performance-enhancing” carbon soles as he won gold.
Athletes in Tokyo have also praised a fast track that has produced a host of world, continental and national records from sprint to middle distances.
Athletics chiefs are under pressure to outlaw controversial ‘super-shoes’ after the sport’s top scientist admitted the rules governing them need to be revamped.
Olympic records are expected to tumble at Tokyo 2020, with competitors using hi-tech footwear that has led to record books being rewritten at an astonishing rate.
Usain Bolt last week joined the outcry against the governing body for permitting the shoe technology, with the sprint legend describing the situation as ‘laughable’.
Now Stephane Bermon, director of health and science at World Athletics, has admitted that the global ruling body needs to update its rules to keep up with developments.
Bermon suggested that the current regulations, which simply limit the depth of the sole and the number of hi-tech stiff ‘plates’ within it, are not sophisticated enough.
Figures within World Athletics have previously avoided giving any indication as to whether the rules will need to be changed once a moratorium on doing so ends after the Games. ‘After the moratorium we will very likely have new rules governing these shoes,’ said Bermon. ‘In the longer term, we will probably have new rules based on different characteristics other than a simple measurement.
‘It seems what is mediating the highest performance-enhancing effect is likely the stiff plate. Regulating this would mean — and this is something we are likely going to move — just regulating on measuring the shoes and the number of plates is not enough. We should move to a system that is based on energy return.’
Elite road running has been transformed since Nike released its VaporFly shoe four years ago, with athletes producing a slew of remarkable performances.
They included the Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge breaking the fabled two-hour marathon barrier wearing a pair, while his compatriot Brigid Kosgei beat Paula Radcliffe’s 16-year-old marathon world record by 81 seconds a day later.
The introduction of track spikes using similar technology has had a similarly transformative effect and will be widely used in Tokyo. Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei set world records over 5,000m and 10,000m wearing a pair, while in June Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce clocked 10.63 seconds in the 100m, second only to Florence Griffith-Joyner.
Fraser-Pryce last week argued that too much signifance has been assigned to the shoe, saying: ‘You can give the spike to everyone in the world and it doesn’t mean they will run the same time as you or even better. It requires work.’
But Bolt believes they are unfairly enhancing performance, saying: ‘It’s weird and unfair for a lot of athletes because I know that in the past shoe companies actually tried and the governing body said ‘No, you can’t change the spikes’, so to know that now they are actually doing it, it’s laughable.’
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce argued that too much significance has been assigned to the shoe
Scientists are uncertain why the shoes bestow such enormous benefits but it is understood the key technology is the stiff plate, often made of carbon, and the ultra-light, springy foam.
Along with an upper in the road shoe that is more curved than previous designs, it is felt that these qualities significantly reduce the amount of energy the runner expends.
World Athletics has capped the depth of the sole at 40mm to limit the effect of the foam and insisted on a maximum of one plate per shoe. Critics have said those rules do not go far enough. Especially when some athletes find much less benefit from the shoes compared to others and some enjoy no improvement at all. The reasons for that phenomenon has also so far baffled the scientists.
‘The same shoe gives you a massive variability among different athletes — even greater than 10 per cent [improvement in performance] in some cases,’ says Professor Yannis Pitsiladis, who sits on the science and medical commission of the International Olympic Committee.
‘How you respond to the shoe can determine if you’re going to be an Olympian or watch it on TV. You know who is going to win and who can qualify [for the Games]. Athletes have qualified because they had access to a super shoe. And many who were not running in these shoes didn’t qualify.’
Pitsiladis compares the shoes to a form of ‘technological doping’ and wants the regulations to be changed so that the shoes cannot determine the outcome of a race.
‘One solution is to minimise the stack [sole] height, while allowing the shoe companies to innovate in a smaller area, minimising the impact of any performance-enhancing mechanisms such as the carbon-fibre plate,’ he says.
‘Let the best companies come up with half a per cent [improvement in performance], say, or one per cent. But not a situation where you have improvements in running economy of even greater than seven per cent.’
Experts fear that the working group World Athletics has put together to advise the ruling body on the regulations post-Tokyo will not go far enough, especially when representatives of six sports brands are sitting on it.
‘The moratorium was also because we had to discuss with the manufacturers,’ said Bermon. ‘It’s very important that you respect the manufacturers. They have spent a lot of time and money designing these shoes. We have to take decisions that do not put them into difficult economic circumstances.’
The working group also includes representatives from the governing body itself, its athletes commission, the ‘sporting goods industry’ and a scientist. World Athletics said: ‘The group is examining the research around shoe technology in order to set parameters, with the aim of achieving the right balance between innovation, competitive advantage, universality and availability.’
Thomas Baines – National 800m runner – I tried the shoes for size, and flew!
I raced in the Nike Air Zoom Victory spikes for the first time on Saturday and broke my 800metres personal best by more than a second.
I reached 600m and thought ‘Wow, I have a lot left in the tank’. I felt like I saved more energy with each contact with the ground.
They are so springy. I put my foot down and felt a burst of energy, a lovely bounce, when I came up. They really work with you, you get a spring up and it is a lot more efficient, as it absorbs the energy when you go down and pushes you back up, so you fatigue less.
National 800 metre runner Thomas Baines raced in the Nike Air Zoom Victory spikes
You just don’t have to work as hard so it is helping with the basic biomechanics of running. It allows you to get a longer stride without putting any extra effort in. It is not that the spikes make you run quicker, just that you have so much more left at the end. That’s the key.
I finished in 1min 49.6sec at the Loughborough Grand Prix, which is 1.1sec off my previous best. I was second behind a 1500m European junior champion also wearing the spikes.
My aim now is to get to GB under-23 level, to compete at the European Championships. If I can keep improving the spikes will definitely help too. I trained in the Vaporfly trainers on a 10km run last week.
Running at an easy pace I would normally be clocking 4min 40sec pace per kilometre. Putting in the same amount of effort, I got a few kilometres in, glanced at my watch and was ‘Oh my God!’ I’m running 4.20 per kilometre. It felt very easy. The same route took two minutes quicker in the end.
You can see why the professionals are using them. You can see the difference they make in the times. In 2019 there were two runners who ran under 1min 45sec. This season already there are six, with Elliot Giles now No4 on the UK all-time list behind Seb Coe, Steve Cram and Peter Elliott, with Oliver Dustin No6.
We haven’t had these sort of times run before from so many in the same season. It is making a big difference but at the Olympics all the elite athletes will be wearing spikes that use this technology, so it is a fair test.
Protection is considered paramount for the hosts at any Olympics, but Tokyo 2020 organisers are going to new lengths in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
As part of their Summer Games goodie bag, it’s been tradition for Olympians and officials to receive free condoms upon arrival since 1988, aiming to prevent the transfer of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
The often free-spirited athletes’ village has a long-standing reputation for being liberal, with many using their time at the Games to improve ‘international relations’.
But Kyodo News reported the current COVID-19 situation means attendees won’t receive their customary condoms until the end of the Summer Games.
The athletes’ village—locate in Tokyo’s Harumi waterfront district—is expected to host around 18,000 athletes and officials during the 2020 Olympics, which get underway on Friday (July 23).
Anyone staying in the village must provide a list of potential contacts they could see for contact tracing, with disqualification the most extreme punishment for being caught flouting this rule.
Japan declared a new state of emergency following a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases earlier in July, which is due to last until August 22, two weeks after the Olympics are due to be completed (Aug. 8).
It was originally reported in June that athletes would receive condoms as normal for this year’s Games, but they were urged to continue socially distancing all the while.
Having seemingly seen a flaw in that logic, organisers will instead save the latex freebies until after the Games are over, presumably as a memento of their time in Tokyo.
It’s not specified whether athletes will be prevented from bringing their own contraception into the athletes’ village, although fraternising with others remains strictly forbidden.
The report mentioned Olympians will be permitted to bring alcohol onto the site, although it must be consumed in their rooms with their specified room-mates.
In another attempt to deter athletes from intermingling this summer, the athletes’ village has been stocked with eco-friendly beds that organisers have said can hold two people at most.
However, Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan recently debunked those claims after posting a video on Twitter of him jumping up and down on his bed with no repercussions:
The pommel horse medal hopeful presented his findings and said: “On today’s episode of fake news at the Olympic Games, the beds are meant to be anti-sex.
“They’re made of cardboard, yes. But apparently they’re meant to break at any sudden movements.” He concluded the video by shouting: “It’s fake. Fake news!”
The Tokyo 2020 Games committee initially planned to have up to 10,000 spectators at venues this summer, but events will now take place with almost no supporters in attendance.
Sky News reported organisers plan to use virtual fan noise and video calls with athletes’ families at certain sites as a means of replicating the usual Olympic experience.
The athletes’ village will feel a lot different this summer—in more ways than one—and organisers have taken a break from tradition to discourage any dorm-hopping whatsoever.