By Blythe Lawrence | July 24, 2018, 6:21 p.m. (ET)

 

The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 run July 24-Aug. 9, 2020, and while they may be two years away there’s a lot to learn on your quest to becoming the ultimate fan. Each Tuesday leading up to the Games, TeamUSA.org will present a nugget you should read about – from athletes to watch to storylines to follow to Japanese culture and landmarks – as part of “Tokyo 2020 Tuesday.” Follow along on social media with the hashtag #Tokyo2020Tuesday.

 

Ever since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dressed up as Super Mario and popped out of a giant green pipe during the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games Rio 2016, anticipation for the Tokyo Games in 2020 has been building toward peak excitement.

When the Games begin on July 24, 2020, Tokyo will join Athens, Los Angeles, Paris and Stockholm on the list of cities to have held the Olympic Games twice (to date, London is the only city to have hosted it three times). The Japanese capital was set to host the Summer Games for the first time in 1940, but after Japan and China went to war in 1937, the Games were moved to Helsinki. Alas, they weren’t held there either; the Games were later cancelled on account of World War II. Helsinki subsequently hosted in 1952; Tokyo finally got its turn in 1964.

While the Japanese are keeping some surprises under wraps as they prepare to have the Games in their country for first time since Nagano welcomed the Winter Games in 1998, here are five things we already know that will make Tokyo 2020 a unique and exciting event:


Olympic Medals Will Contain Parts Of Old Electronics

Japanese citizens have the chance to make unique contributions to the Games by recycling their old electronic devices, which will be used in the production of the 5,000 Olympic medals to be awarded in Tokyo. The donation of old cell phones and the like not only demonstrates sustainability — it allows the entire nation to offer something tangible to making the Games happen.


Four Cool New Sports Will Attain Olympic Sport Status

Skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing and karate are all set to be contested for the first time in Tokyo. Additionally, baseball and softball are back on the Olympic program after being absent from the past two editions of the Games. The last two are sure to be hot tickets for the baseball/softball-loving host nation, whose softball team won Olympic gold the last time the event was contested in 2008.

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The Number Of Robots Will Be On The Rise

Futuristic AI helper robots have already been deployed at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. These sleek, friendly machines are capable of giving directions, assisting with luggage and simultaneous interpretation in four different languages, according to The Japan Times. The goal is to make it normal to see humans interacting with robots throughout the airport. 


Landmarks Will Get Into Competition Mode

A number of the city’s most iconic landmarks are set to serve as scenic backdrops for the Games. The Imperial Palace Gardens will be the site of the racewalking events, while road cyclists will start their races at tranquil Musashinonomori Park and end them at the Fuji International Speedway, a destination renowned for its incredible views of Mount Fuji.

 

A general view of the Imperial Palace in the Imperial Palace Gardens on August 31, 2013 in Tokyo. 

 

A Cultural Change Is Coming
Japan’s efforts to unclog its famously packed road and public transit systems include newfound enthusiasm for telecommuting. About 60,000 workers took part in the first “telework day” last July 24, an exercise which was slated to repeat itself this year. If it takes hold in a country where there’s a word for death by working too hard, this trend could be the most lasting legacy of the Games.

Blythe Lawrence is a journalist based in Seattle. She has covered two Olympic Games and is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.