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Tokyo 2020 Olympics Were Unlike Any Games Ever
After years of anticipation and then months of anxiety，the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games played out in Japan’s capital over two weeks, from July 23 to August 8, 2021.
It was unlike any event of its type before ， happening amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Athletes competed to seas of empty seats. Competitors kept their distance during the opening ceremony to adhere to social distancing rules. International media and other personnel, who imagined exploring the metropolis years before the gathering started，found themselves confined to media centers and on-site convenience stores.
Similarly, visitors to the Games would be separated from Tokyo’s general population as best as possible，confined to the Olympic Village.
Despite all these hurdles，the Olympic events went off without a hitch ， featuring dazzling moments and a best-ever medal count from the host country.
Originally scheduled to happen during 2020，the Games were postponed one year following the initial global outbreak of COVID-19. In the months leading up to summer 2021，focus turned on how the event，which featured over 11，000 athletes from 205 participating countries，would unfold.
One of the biggest discussion points was on whether the events would feature general spectators. Initially ， planners said they were intending to allow people in at a reduced capacity. Weeks before the start of the Olympics，though， they changed their mind, and announced no fans would be allowed in.
This was a first for the Olympics，with nearly every event playing out with no general spectators. In some cases，other athletes and staff sat in the seats，cheering for their country，adding a small but audible bit of familiar atmosphere to the events.
The athletes also had to contend with Japan’s scorching summer temperatures，which had been a point of concern well before COVID-19. The high temperatures impacted many competitions including the marathon， which had been moved to Sapporo to avoid high temperatures. It was the first time heat — and the threat of climate change — loomed over the Olympics.
Despite all these challenges，and record number of COVID-19 cases in Tokyo during the Olympics， the sports themselves went out without problem， including first-time sports such as skateboarding， surfing and bouldering.
It went especially well for Japan. Athletes representing the host country won 58 medals total including 27 golds，records for the nation. They won events such as baseball，judo and mixed table tennis，the last being a new addition. It was the most successful Games ever for Japanese athletes.
The Tokyo Olympics ended on August 8, 2021 in much the same way they started — in an empty National Stadium，with athletes from around the world soaking in the historic and weird atmosphere of a Games that will always be remembered for how it happened.
Key Words and Expressions
- anxiety — a feeling of uneasiness or nervousness
- opening ceremony — a ceremony held to declare and celebrate the start of something
- social distancing rules — rules to prevent the spread of contagious disease by maintaining a physical distance among people
- media — the means of communication that influence a large number of people
- hurdle — a difficulty that one has to overcome
- participating countries — countries taking part in an event or activity
- general spectators — people who watch games or event
- reduced capacity — a limited amount of something that is accepted
- concern (noun) — something that makes you feel worried
- represent — to take action for a group of people
Reading Comprehension Test
- Which of the following is false?
a. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics was the first to feature no general spectators.
b. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics was the first to address climate change.
c. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics saw many fans crowded together in stadiums.
d. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics featured new sports.
- Who cheered for athletes at stadiums during the 2020 Olympics?
a. Fans from Tokyo and abroad.
b. Other athletes and staff.
c. Other athletes and local fans.
d. Japanese Olympic athletes.
- Which of the following wasn’t a new sport at the 2020 Olympics?
c. Mixed table tennis.
- What did the Olympic organizers change their mind on?
- Why was the marathon moved to Sapporo?