Tokyo Olympics guide: stars on show, main events and venues, and where to watch in UAE

Games go ahead despite fears of another coronavirus outbreak in Japan

A worker stands of the roof of the National Stadium in Tokyo ahead of the Olympics. EPA
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After a year-long delay, multiple setbacks and numerous health scares, the Tokyo Olympics is about to start. There will be no crowds due to Covid restrictions and many athletes have decided not to travel to Japan.

But a high price has already been paid for the delay, and failure to compete would have been crushing for the athletes who have made it to Tokyo. The Games are facing significant opposition in Japan due to their Covid risks, while the first cases of athletes testing positive at the Olympic Village were reported by local officials on Sunday.

But here we are, ready for the the most controversial Games in 41 years.

The International Olympic Committee has added five sports to the Tokyo programme to attract younger audiences: karate, softball, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing.

The opening and closing ceremonies of the July 23-August 8 Tokyo Games will be staged at the Olympic Stadium, which will also host athletics events and football matches.

More details about the pandemic-ravaged Games are below.

Main events and venues

Football (July 21 to August 7)

Tokyo Stadium, International Stadium Yokohama, Miyagi Stadium, Ibaraki Kashima Stadium, Saitama Stadium, Sapporo Dome

Stars to watch

Megan Rapinoe is captain of the the USA team, the outstanding favourites after another World Cup win in 2019.
The Everton attacker will be even more determined to win Olympic gold after Brazil's defeat to Argentina in the recent Copa America final.

Athletics (July 30 to August 8)

Tokyo Stadium and Sapporo Odori Park

Stars to watch

Allyson Felix will be taking part in her fifth Games and needs one more medal to become the most decorated female athlete of all time in Olympic track and field.
The American Noah Lyles is the current world champion in the 200 metres and favourite to win the event in Tokyo.

Tennis (July 24 to August 1)

Arlake Tennis Park

World No 2 Naomi Osaka missed Wimbledon to regroup after health issues, but will be a favourite on home soil.
Serbia's World No 1 Novak Djokovic will be firm favourite in Tokyo after his recent Wimbledon win took him alongside Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal on 20 slam trophies -  and neither of those two are taking part.

Swimming (July 24 to August 1)

Tokyo Aquatics Centre

Adam Peaty is aiming to break his own 100m breaststroke world record in Tokyo when he attempts to become the first British swimmer to retain an Olympic title.

Basketball (July 25 to August 8)

Aomi Urban Sports Park (3×3 version) and Saitama Super Arena

Sue Bird and teammate Diana Taurasi will be leading the way for USA in their fifth Olympic appearance.
Kevin Durant will become become just the fourth United States male basketball player selected for three or more Olympic teams after Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and David Robinson.

Golf (July 29 to August 1 men’s event, August 4-7 women’s event)

Kasumigaseki Country Club

Inbee Park, the 2016 gold medal winner, will return for South Korea. “I’ve achieved a lot in golf, won a lot of majors, won a lot of tournaments, but winning the gold medal was something really different." she said.

Cycling (July 25-August 9)

Izu Velodrome, Ariake Urban Sports Park, Izu MTB Course, Fuji International Speedway

Laura Kenny already has four Olympic golds and will attempt to add three more in the omnium, team pursuit, and the first-ever women’s madison.
UAE Team Emirates star Tadej Pogacar dominated to win his second Tour de France - and will now be aiming for more success in the Tokyo road race and time trial for Slovenia.

Rowing (July 25-August 1)

Sea Forest Waterway

Great Britain's Helen Glover retired after winning gold in the women's pairs in Rio - adding to her win at London 2012 - but has now made an astonishing comeback.
Sculler Mahe Drysdale will be bidding for his third Olympic gold in the single sculls, four months from his 43rd birthday.

Badminton (July 24 to August 2)

Musashino Forest Sport Plaza

Tai Tzu-Ying has hinted she may retire, though only 26, after the Games so the world No 1 will be determined to win gold.
Kento Momota of Japan will be under the spotlight on home turf. The world No 1 has overcome personal and professional problems, including contracting Covid, to take his place.

Shooting (July 24 to August 2)

Asaka Shooting Range

The 47-year-old shooter will be one of the six-strong UAE team in Tokyo.

Judo (July 24-31)

Nippon Budokan

Noel van End Noel is the 2019 World Championship gold medalist in the -90 kg weight category.

Boxing (July 24 to August 8)

Kokugikan Arena

Amit Panghal (in red) lands a right jab on Kharkhuu Enkhmandakh in the Asian Boxing Championships at Le Meridien Grand Ballroom in Dubai on Wednesday, May 26, 2021. Courtesy BFI

Gymnastics (July 24-August 3)

Ariake Gymnastics Centre

Simone Biles was one of the biggest stars at the Rio Games, where she won four gold medals and a bronze, and will be a big favourite in Tokyo.
Great Britain's Max Whitlock aims to become the fourth man in history to successfully defend an Olympic pommel horse title.

Rugby Sevens (July 26-31): Tokyo Stadium

Table tennis (July 24 to August 6): Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium

Wrestling (August 1-7): Makuhari Messe Hall

UAE Athletes to watch

UAE judoka Victor Scvortov, left.

The UAE will be banking on the trio who represented them at Rio 2016 — shooter Saif bin Futtais and judokas Victor Scvortov and Ivan Remarenco — in the medal hunt.

The six-member squad in Japan — that also includes wildcards swimmer Yousuf Al Matrooshi, and track athletes Hassan Al Noobi and Fatima Al Hosani — is the smallest contingent the Emirates has sent sending to an Olympics since their first Games participation at Los Angeles 1984.

Where to watch the Olympics in the UAE

beIN sports are the official broadcast partners of the Olympics in the region.

(FILES) This file photo taken on June 20, 2021 shows recyclable cardboard beds and mattresses for athletes during a media tour at the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the Tokyo 2020 Games in Tokyo.  - For athletes competing at the Tokyo Games, the Olympic Village will be almost all they see, with strict coronavirus rules preventing them from leaving the compound except to train and compete.  (Photo by Akio KON  /  POOL  /  AFP)  /  TO GO WITH Oly-2020-2021-Japan-health-virus-Village,FOCUS by Etienne Balmer

What’s up with the medals?

Athletes at the Tokyo Olympics will put their medals around their own necks to protect against spreading the coronavirus. Not just that, all the medals at the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo have been made from recycled electronic waste. The Tokyo Games aims to be the ‘greenest ever’ Olympics, powered by renewable energy and recycled medals.

Are the beds at the Olympic Village made of cardboard?

Keeping with the theme of a Green games and also to maintain highest-possible health standards during the ongoing pandemic, the beds in the Olympic Village are made from reinforced cardboard. Organisers have set a target of reusing or recycling 65 per cent of waste generated during the event.

Updated: July 19, 2021, 9:52 AM