India’s contingent at Tokyo 2020 is the largest ever with medal hopefuls across multiple sports. A total of 120 athletes (52 female & 68 male) are participating in the games across 18 sports.
The countdown to the Tokyo Olympics, 2020 has begun. After a year-long delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan is all set to lift the curtains for the much-awaited Games of the 32nd Olympiad or the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Though the official opening ceremony of the international event is scheduled to be held on 23 July 2021, the sporting events begin two days earlier. The 17 day long sports competition will culminate with the closing ceremony on 8 August 2021. The Olympics torch-lighting ceremony was held behind closed doors in March 2020. This would be the second time that Tokyo, Japan will be hosting the event, after hosting it in 1964. This year, 206 countries will be participating in 339 events across 33 sports encompassing 46 disciplines. The slogan of the 2020 Summer Olympics torch relay is “Hope Lights Our Way”.
Miraitowa is the mascot for Tokyo Olympics 2020, representing Japan’s culture
The mascot of Tokyo Olympics 2020 is named Miraitowa, which is styled with the Ai (indigo blue) Ichimatsu pattern from the Tokyo 2020 Games emblem, a tribute to both the respected tradition and modern innovation of Japanese culture. The name MIRAITOWA is based on the Japanese words “mirai”, meaning “future”, and “towa”, meaning “eternity”, representing the wish that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will lead to a future of everlasting hope in the hearts of everyone around the world, as per the games website.
Medals have been made from discarded smartphones sourced from various parts of Japan
For this edition of the Olympics, medals have been made from recycled electronics. About 5,000 gold, silver, and bronze medals have been made from recycled electronics sourced from all over Japan. A competition was held inviting entries for medal designs, for which around 400 entries were received. The medal’s design is intended to symbolise diversity and represent a world where people who compete in sports and work hard are honoured.
The final design represents Japanese culture, with the ribbon showing off modernized checkered patterns and kimono layering techniques. Following the International Olympics Committee’s standards, the front of the medal includes Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, in front of Panathinaikos Stadium and the back of the medal features the Tokyo 2020 logo. Further, chemically recycled polyester fibers that produce less CO2 during their manufacturing process have been used for the ribbons where Tokyo 2020 core graphic colours are represented.
Besides using e-waste for producing medals, Japan has taken other measures too, to ensure sustainability and reduce carbon footprint. These include sourcing renewable sources of energy for meeting electricity requirements for the event, podiums manufactured using recycled plastic contributed by public and recovered from oceans, etc.
New sports have been added in Tokyo 2020
Five new sports have been introduced in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. These are karate, skateboard, baseball/softball, sports climbing, and surfing. The selection of the sports is based on multiple factors such as the impact on gender equality, the youth appeal of the sports, and the legacy value of adding them to the Tokyo Games. The inclusion of the new sports adds additional 18 events. Tokyo 2020 will witness over 11,300 athletes from more than 200 countries competing in 339 events.
India’s largest-ever contingent participating in Tokyo 2020
India was represented for the first time in the 1900 Paris Olympic Games. Norman Pritchard, a sprinter, was the country’s first and only athlete at the 1900 Games. He won silver medals in the men’s 200m and 200m hurdles. Even the Indian Olympic Association was formed much later, in 1927. Including Tokyo 2020, this would be the 25th time that India will be appearing in an Olympic programme. In the 2016 Rio Olympics, 117 participants qualified to represent India across 15 sports disciplines, as compared to 81 sportspersons in London Olympics 2012, and 57 in Beijing Olympics 2008.
A total of 120 athletes are representing India in Tokyo 2020 in 69 events across 18 disciplines. A total of 52 female and 68 male athletes are part of the contingent. While 32 of them are competing for the medal in Hockey (16 male and 16 female) which is a team event, there are 25 participants in athletics and 15 in shooting. India is participating in six team events viz., archery (male), 4*400m relay mixed, Men’s 4*400 relay, hockey (men & women), and mixed doubles table tennis.
Discipline-wise number of participants from India is given in the following table.
The schedule of events in which Indian sportspersons are participating can be accessed from here.
The USA is sending more than 600 athletes
As on 17 July 2021, a total of 11,309 were qualified to participate in Olympics Tokyo 2020 across 200 countries. The USA has the largest contingent with more than 600 participants, followed by Japan, the host, with close to 590 participants. Australia, China, and Germany have more than 400 participants each, while Great Britain, France, Canada, Italy, Spain, and Brazil are sending more than 300 participants. More than 200 participants each from Netherlands, Poland, and New Zealand are also part of the events. South Africa, Argentina, Hungary, Mexico, Ukraine, Egypt, Sweden, and Belgium each have more participants than India.
The men’s hockey team won 11 medals of India’s total tally of 28 medals
So far, India has won 28 medals in the Olympics including 23 medals post-independence. India has won 9 gold medals, 7 silver medals, and 12 bronze medals. Eleven of the medals were in Hockey- men, including 8 gold medals, 1 silver, and 2 bronze medals. The men’s team won six consecutive gold medals at the Games between 1928 and 1956, and a silver in 1960. Indian Men’s Hockey team won bronze in both 1968 and 1972. The other two gold medals were won in Tokyo 1964 and Moscow 1980.
Only one individual has won gold medal for India
India’s won the greatest number of medals in the 2012 London Olympics with 2 silver and 4 bronze medals. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, India won 3 medals- 1 gold and 2 bronze. The only individual to have won a gold medal from India is Abhinav Bindra who won the medal in men’s 10m air rifle shooting at the in Beijing Olympics, 2008. M C Mary Kom, who won bronze in wrestling in the 2012 London Olympics and PV Sindhu, who won silver in the women’s badminton singles in Rio 2016, are participating in Tokyo 2020.
What is in store for Indian athletes at Tokyo 2020?
With the largest ever contingent and with more than 100 promising sportspersons who have accomplished themselves in the international arena and world championships, India is expected to improve considerably from its 2016 tally of just 2 medals and the 67th position in the rankings. India is expected to do well in Archery, Hockey, Shooting, Badminton, Tennis, Athletics, Wrestling, Weightlifting & boxing. However, the pandemic-induced lockdowns, disruption to trainings & events may have taken a toll on the athletes. How they perform under pressure on the world’s biggest stage remains to be seen.
Featured Image: Tokyo 2020 Olympics