Olympics 2021

11 ways the Summer Olympics will be different this year


unexpected changes


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Despite protests and Covid-19 concerns, 2021’s Olympics (annoyingly still called the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games) are charging ahead.

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Aside from the weirdness of the postponed games’ title, the Olympics will feel very different this year, for reasons both good and bad.

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Here are the 11 biggest ways the Olympics will be different in 2021.

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11. They’re happening on an odd-numbered year

For the first time, the Olympic games are happening on an odd-numbered year. That’s due, of course, to the games being postponed on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.

10. The stands will be empty

What would a sporting event be without a cheering crowd? The 2021 Olympics, apparently. Officials originally banned international visitors from attending the games before deciding to do away with spectators altogether.

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9. Extended TV coverage

You can’t see the 2021 Olympics in person, but you can certainly catch them on TV. NBC says it will air a record amount of coverage, some of which will be available free on Peacock, the network’s streaming service.

8. Four new sports

Karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing make their first appearance at the Olympics this year. Baseball and softball will also be played for the first time since 2008 for a grand total of 33 sports.

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7. Athletes will be closely monitored for Covid-19

Athletes will have to test negative for Covid-19 before and after arriving at the Olympic Village. Once there, they’ll be subject to a three-day quarantine and daily testing for the virus.

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6. Some athletes could still drop out

Tennis players Coco Gauff and Dan Evans, and sport shooter Amber Hill have dropped out of the competition after testing positive for Covid-19. Several others are sitting out the games for reasons related to the pandemic.

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5. The host city is off limits

Athletes will officially be restricted from taking public transportation or visiting restaurants while in Tokyo to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

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4. A record number of out LGBTQ athletes will compete

One bright spot this year: The highest number of out LGBTQ athletes ever are set to compete at this year’s games, including the first out trans Olympians.

3. Olympic Village could be less frisky

Claims about “anti-sex beds” have been debunked, but athletes are still being told to forego certain after-hours workouts. Olympic organizers say athletes should avoid physical contact, which could make for a very different vibe at the famously horny Olympic Village.

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2. Locals are even madder than usual

The Olympics always draw protests over detrimental effects on host cities, but opposition is more intense with Tokyo under a Covid-19 emergency. In May, a poll in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper found more than 80 percent of people wanted the event canceled.

1. The games could still be canceled

Olympic organizers say they could still pull the plug over Covid-19 fears. It wouldn’t be the first time, but the possibility of a last-minute cancellation is still unique.


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The 2020 Tokyo Olympics run from July 23 to August 8, 2021.

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