2020 Tokyo Games Topical Guide

To help with spellings and usage in coverage of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, The Associated Press compiled an editorial style guide of essential terms, spellings and definitions. Some terms are from the Olympics entries in the AP Stylebook: https://www.apstylebook.com. Others are common usage in AP sports stories.

Facts and figures

Japan is hosting the Olympics for the fourth time. The Summer Games were held in Tokyo in 1964. The Winter Games were held in Sapporo in 1972 and in Nagano in 1998. The International Olympic Committee is still referring to these games as Tokyo 2020, despite a yearlong postponement because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dates of the Tokyo Olympics: July 23-Aug. 8, 2021 (some soccer and softball games on July 21-22, archery and rowing preliminaries on July 23 ahead of the opening ceremony.)

Sports: There are 33 sports and 46 disciplines under the official program. The IOC defines sports by the international federations that govern them: Swimming, diving, artistic swimming (formerly synchronized), open water swimming and water polo are considered disciplines that all fall under the sport of swimming because they are governed by FINA. Note the distinctions if quantifying the number of Olympic sports in a story, but don't get tripped up by official definitions in other uses: It's OK to describe water polo and diving as different sports.

Sports venues: There are 42 venues spread across the country. Race walking and marathons were moved out of Tokyo to Sapporo (more than 500 miles to the north) due to concerns about the heat.

Medal events: 339 medal events.

Four new sports: surfing, skateboarding, karate and sport climbing. Baseball and softball are returning for the first time since 2008. There are several new events in traditional sports, including 3-on-3 basketball and Madison cycling, a two-person team event. (3-on-3 is keeping with AP’s longstanding style on pickup basketball. The IOC uses 3x3, which the AP is using only as shorthand in slugs, not in stories themselves.)

Athletes: around 11,000, plus coaches and team officials.

Countries: Athletes from 205 national Olympic committees are expected, as well as a team of refugee athletes competing under the Olympic flag. (North Korea, which is not one of the 205, announced in April it would not participate, citing the pandemic.)

Russia: All Russian athletes at the Tokyo Games will compete for the Russian Olympic Committee, or ROC. A ruling last year by the Court of Arbitration for Sport banned Russia's flag, anthem and team name as punishment for an extensive doping program and cover-ups. Russian gold medalists will hear Piano Concerto No. 1 by Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky as the replacement for their national anthem. The team will use the flag of Russia's Olympic committee rather than the national tricolor, though official team uniforms are in the white, blue and red colors associated with the national flag.

Cost: The University of Oxford has said these are the most expensive Olympics on record. The official cost is $15.4 billion, but government audits suggest it might be twice that much. All but $6.7 billion is public money. The IOC, which chips in only about $1.5 billion to the overall cost, earns 91% of its income from broadcast rights and sponsorship. Estimates suggest a cancellation could cost it $3 billion to $4 billion in broadcast rights income.

Medals: About 5,000 medals have been produced for Olympians and Paralympians from discarded electronic devices that were contributed by people all over Japan and recycled. There is not necessarily a single gold, silver and bronze medal winner in each of the 339 events. Some competitions – in boxing, judo, taekwondo and wrestling – award two bronze medals. And then there are the occasional event ties, where two or more of one medal may be awarded.

Mascots: Miraitowa is the mascot of the Olympics. The name is based on the Japanese words mirai (future) and towa (eternity) combined. Someity is the Paralympics mascot. The name comes from someiyoshino, a popular cherry blossom variety.

Medals tables: In the United States, national standings are compiled by the total number of medals per team: gold, silver and bronze. In the rest of the world, national standings are based on the number of gold medals per team.

Olympic sports on the program: archery, athletics (track and field) badminton, baseball/softball, basketball (regular team and 3-on-3), boxing, canoe/kayak (slalom and sprint), cycling (track, road, mountain bike, BMX racing, BMX freestyle), equestrian (dressage, eventing and jumping), fencing, football (soccer), golf, gymnastics (artistic, rhythmic and trampoline), handball, field hockey, judo, karate, modern pentathlon, rowing, rugby sevens, sailing, shooting, skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing, swimming (swimming, diving – springboard and platform, water polo, artistic swimming, marathon swimming), table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon, volleyball (indoor and beach), weightlifting, wrestling (freestyle and Greco-Roman).


Tokyo stands alone in datelines and is the proper dateline for events in the two main adjacent clusters called the Heritage Zone (10 venues) and the Tokyo Bay Zone (16 venues). The other 16 venues fall outside of the two main clusters, including in Sapporo, which is more than 500 miles (more than 800 kilometers) north of Tokyo.

These venues use a Tokyo dateline:

Olympic Stadium (opening/closing ceremonies, track and field, soccer)
Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium (table tennis)
Yoyogi National Stadium (handball)
Nippon Budokan (judo, karate)
Tokyo International Forum (weightlifting)
Kokugikan Arena (boxing)
Equestrian Park (equestrian)
Musashino Forest Sport Plaza (badminton, pentathlon)
Tokyo Stadium (soccer, pentathlon, rugby)
Ariake Arena (indoor volleyball)
Ariake Gymnastics Centre (gymnastics)
Ariake Urban Sports Park (cycling BMX racing and freestyle, skateboarding)
Ariake Tennis Park (tennis)
Odaiba Marine Park (marathon swimming, triathlon)
Shiokaze Park (beach volleyball)
Aomi Urban Sports Park (3-on-3 basketball, sport climbing)
Oi Hockey Stadium (field hockey)
Sea Forest Cross-Country Course (equestrian – eventing, cross country)
Sea Forest Waterway (canoe sprint, rowing)
Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre (canoe slalom)
Yumenoshima Park Archery Field (archery)
Tokyo Aquatics Centre (swimming, artistic swimming, diving)
Tatsumi Water Polo Centre (water polo)
Asaka Shooting Range (shooting)

These venues do NOT use a Tokyo dateline:

Musashinonomori Park (cycling road) uses FUCHU, Japan (The park is located across the border of three cities, Fuchu, Chofu and Mitaka. The AP is going with Fuchu because it is most affiliated with the park.)

Sapporo Odori Park (marathon, race walking) uses SAPPORO, Japan (In text the location can be described as “in Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido ...”)

Makuhari Messe Hall (fencing, taekwondo, wrestling) uses CHIBA, Japan

Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach (surfing) uses ICHINOMIYA, Japan

Saitama Super Arena (basketball) uses SAITAMA, Japan

Kasumigaseki Country Club (golf) uses KAWAGOE, Japan

Enoshima Yacht Harbour (sailing) uses FUJISAWA, Japan

Izu Velodrome and MTB Course (cycling track and mountain bike) uses IZU, Japan

Fuji International Speedway (cycling road) uses OYAMA, Japan

Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium (baseball/softball) uses FUKUSHIMA, Japan

Yokohama Baseball Stadium (baseball/softball) uses YOKOHAMA, Japan

Sapporo Dome (soccer) uses SAPPORO, Japan

Miyagi Stadium (soccer) uses RIFU, Japan

Ibaraki Kashima Stadium (soccer) uses KASHIMIA, Japan

Saitama Stadium (soccer) uses SAITAMA, Japan

International Stadium Yokohama (soccer) uses YOKOHAMA, Japan


Always capitalize, even when standing alone: The Games open July 23. This is a change from previous AP style that called for capitalization only when attached to the host city or year (the Tokyo Games and the delayed 2020 Games) to conform with the IOC's style and widespread usage.

Tokyo Games, Tokyo Olympics

Capitalized. Also, the postponed or delayed 2020 Olympics, or postponed or delayed 2020 Games. The year always precedes the host city and Olympics: postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, delayed 2020 Tokyo Games.

Do not use Tokyo 2020 Olympics or Tokyo 2020 Games; Tokyo 2020 is a marketing term commonly used by organizers and others that does not conform with longstanding AP style.

Names and abbreviations

FINA: The world governing body for swimming. FINA is acceptable on all references.

IOC: International Olympic Committee. Either is OK on first reference, but use full name in the story.

IOC President Thomas Bach. The title is capitalized when used before the name.

International sports federations. All Olympic sports are run by international federations. Don't use abbreviation IF; use international federation or governing body.

National Olympic committee. In news stories, avoid the abbreviation NOC and use national Olympic committees or national bodies. There are 205 recognized national Olympic committees.

USOPC: U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee. Abbreviation acceptable on second reference.

The Olympic movement: comprises the IOC, international federations, national Olympic committees, organizing committees and all other recognized federations and bodies, as well as athletes, judges, coaches and other sports officials.

The Olympic Partners program: The IOC's global sponsorship program. The 15 sponsors are Airbnb, Alibaba Group, Allianz, Atos, Bridgestone, Coca-Cola, Dow, GE, Intel, Omega, Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Toyota and Visa. Do not use the IOC's abbreviation, TOP.


Best to avoid as the term can be confusing. It is not a synonym for the Olympics. It is a period of four years beginning on Jan. 1 of the Olympic year. Olympiads are numbered consecutively in Roman numerals from the 1896 Athens Games. These are the Games of the XXXII Olympiad, which began Jan. 1, 2020.


Any athlete who has qualified for or been named to a country's Olympic team.


Adjective (without s) and always capitalized: Olympic gold medal, Olympic organizers, Olympic host city, Olympic flame, etc.

Olympic terms

Olympic Village, capitalized, or athletes village, lowercase.

Olympic flame and torch relay.

Olympic opening ceremony (singular) and closing ceremony (singular). Together they are the Olympic ceremonies (plural) held at the Olympic Stadium.

Olympics or Olympic Games

Always capitalized. There are Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics, or Summer Games and Winter Games.


Staged in Tokyo from Aug. 24-Sept. 5, involving about 4,400 athletes with physical disabilities from 160 countries.

Sports on the program include badminton and taekwondo (making their Paralympic debut in Tokyo), canoe/kayak, wheelchair basketball, equestrian, boccia, wheelchair tennis, wheelchair fencing sitting volleyball, swimming, archery, goalball, football (soccer), track and field, judo, wheelchair rugby, table tennis, triathlon, powerlifting, cycling, shooting and sailing.

Athletes are grouped in classifications based on different types of disabilities. The word Paralympic as an adjective (without s) is always capitalized: Paralympic Games, Paralympic organizers, Paralympic gold medal, and so forth. Paralympics as a noun is also always capitalized, following similar usage rules as Olympics: Tokyo Paralympics, delayed 2020 Paralympics.

Paralympic athletes are known as Paralympians.

The games are governed by the International Paralympic Committee; IPC is acceptable on second reference. When reporting on the Paralympics, see the disabilities entry in the AP Stylebook, which encourages specific descriptions and gives guidance on some terms and descriptions.

Summer Olympics

Capitalized. While proper style, note that during the Tokyo Games it will likely not be necessary in your story to refer to the season.

Symbols and culture

Olympic rings: five interlocking rings (blue, yellow, black, green and red) symbolizing five areas of the world involved in the Olympic movement (Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania).

Olympic motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius (faster, higher, stronger).

Olympic Charter: code of rules and principles governing the International Olympic Committee and Olympic movement.

Olympism: IOC term for the philosophy of sport, culture and education behind the Olympic movement.

Olympic hymn or anthem: music by Greek composer Spyridon Samaras and lyrics by Greek poet Kostis Palamas. Played at opening and closing ceremony.

Olympic oath: a solemn promise to abide by the rules in the spirit of sportsmanship. Recited by one athlete and one judge or referee at the opening ceremony on behalf of all the athletes and all officials.

Cultural Olympiad: the program of cultural, musical and artistic events organized in the host city around the games.


Japan uses the Japanese yen (same in singular and plural form). Use currency conversions the first time the currency is mentioned to make clear for readers how a number translates to U.S. dollars, euros, etc. Do not convert amounts that are not current because exchange rates change over time. If necessary for clarity in the story, specify that the conversion is at current exchange rates.

Sport Identification Codes

ARC – Archery
ATH – Athletics (Track & Field)
BAD – Badminton
BBI – Baseball
BKL – Basketball-Women's (with 3x3 added behind sport code where applicable)
BKO – Basketball-Men's (with 3x3 added behind sport code where applicable)
BOX – Boxing
BVL – Beach Volleyball
CAN – Canoeing
CLB – Sport Climbing
CYC – Cycling (with BMX added behind sport code where applicable)
DIV – Diving
EQU – Equestrian
FEN – Fencing
FHK – Field Hockey
GLF – Golf
GYM – Gymnastics
HNB – Handball
JUD – Judo
KAR – Karate
OLY – Olympics (with a specific sport code added behind where applicable)
PEN – Modern Pentathlon
ROW – Rowing
RGU – Rugby Sevens
SAI – Sailing
SHO – Shooting
SKB – Skateboarding
SOC – Soccer
SOF – Softball
SRF – Surfing
SWM – Swimming
TAE – Taekwondo
TEN – Tennis
TRI – Triathlon
TTN – Table Tennis
VOL – Volleyball
WPO – Water Polo
WEI – Weightlifting
WRE – Wrestling
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