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Countdown to Tokyo 2020

    NHK World
    Correspondent
    July 24th marks one year till Japan welcomes the world to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. For just over two weeks from July 24th to August 9th next year, thousands of athletes will be competing in 33 sports and 339 events. It will be the largest Olympic Games in history.

    Tokyo 2020 for women and youth

    The Tokyo Games will introduce 26 new sports, including surfing and karate. Youthful urban athletics like BMX, skateboarding and climbing have recently come on the scene, heralding a new generation of Olympic stars.

    Mixed gender competitions in judo and table tennis are also drawing attention. The International Olympic Committee is encouraging more participation by women as part of the effort to achieve gender parity. More female athletes will participate in the Tokyo summer Games than at any other Olympics.

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    BMX will make its debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

    Venues nearly complete and getting inspections

    The iconic, new national stadium is 90 percent complete. Designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, a standout feature is the roof made of wood from the country's 47 prefectures. The stadium is scheduled to be completed by the end of November.

    The swimming and volleyball venues are also almost finished and the rowing and canoeing facilities have already opened. The buildings in the athletes' village are built and interiors will be completed by December.

    New national stadium

    Test events underway

    The city has been hosting test events this summer to smooth out any glitches. Police were dispatched to keep areas safe for a road race recently in and around Tokyo.

    Organizers of 2020 Tokyo attended a trial weightlifting competition earlier in July, aiming to resolve any issues at the venue in advance. They found that some spectators' views were blocked by judges and problems arose navigating around the large floor and viewing the scores display screen. Improvements will be made at all the venues.

    "We want to work together with each of the sports associations to make the Tokyo Games function better," said Yasuo Mori, an organizing committee chief.

    Athletes are gearing up

    Some of the Japanese athletes have already qualified in their sport. Synchronized divers Ken Terauchi and Sho Sakai were the first to secure their places earlier this month. Over the next 12 months, competitors from around the world will be booking flights to Tokyo, including rising-star Japanese sprinters, Abdul Hakim Sani Brown and Yuki Koike.

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    Abdul Hakim Sani Brown (left) and Yuki Koike (right)

    Vying for tickets

    The summer Games are proving to be the hottest ticket in town. Snapping one up is a challenge for fans in Japan. Many came up empty in a recent lottery, but there's still hope as organizers plan for another lottery next month. People from outside Japan are advised to apply through their local Olympic committee or through authorized resellers. A total of 7.8 million tickets are being made available.

    Volunteers are gearing up to welcome athletes and visitors from around the world. Their new uniform was unveiled earlier this month and their practical training will start next year.

    An eco-friendly Olympic Games

    Throughout the Games, organizers will be operating with environmentally-friendly policies. Medals will be made of metal recycled from used mobile phones and other electronic devices. The committee appealed to the public and 6 million phones were donated from across the country. Podiums will be constructed from plastic waste.

    Just one year to go

    With the Games just a year away, the march to Tokyo starts months earlier in the city of Fukushima, location of the starting line for the torch relay. Organizers say it was selected to show the world how the region has recovered from the 2011 disaster. IOC President Thomas Bach says expectations are high.

    "I think these games will be a great opportunity for Japan to present its culture, to present its hospitality, to present its friendliness to the world, but also to present its great progress in technology. "

    But many challenges remain. Organizers will have to deal with severely hot weather expected during the Games. Congestion on trains and excessive road traffic are also huge concerns. Everyone is working together now to find ways to manage those problems.