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Yes, the Tokyo Olympics are still on, but they’re going to be weird

The cyclists racing for Canada will experience a very different Games

It’s been quite the year, so don’t feel bad if you’ve forgotten about the Olympics. Tokyo 2020, originally scheduled for summer 2020, was cancelled last March and will now take place July 23 to 8 Aug. 8, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. The Paralympics will run from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5. The XXXII Olympiad will look very different than prior Olympic events, but, as of publishing, it’s still set to go ahead. Here’s what fans can expect from the 22 cycling events taking place at this year’s event.

How will it work with the pandemic?

In April, the four prefectures of Tokyo, Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto were placed under Japan’s third state of emergency. On May 7, the Japanese government extended the state of emergency to May 31. The situation is not ideal for an international event with spectators.

Officials have put a number of precautions in place, including banning foreign fans from events. A recent survey found that 72 per cent of Japanese polled want the games canceled or postponed, but, despite the widespread disapproval, there will still (likely) be Japanese fans at the events. Organizers are still figuring out the spectator situation —at a recent athletics test event officials played recorded cheers as runners crossed the line. They’ve also banned (live) cheering at Olympic torch relay events.

Select members of the media and support staff will be allowed at the Games.

Instead of exploring the city and surrounding area, athletes and coaches who arrive from outside the country for the Olympics will be excepted from the country’s 14-day quarantine, but will be subject to daily COVID-19 testing. Their movement will be restricted to their dormitory, arena and training facilities and rule breakers may face expulsion from the Games.

Where will the cycling events take place?

This is the second time Tokyo hosts a summer Olympics (the first was in 1964), but most of the cycling events will take place outside the city itself. This year, the men’s and women’s road races will begin in Musashinonomori Park, which lies just within Tokyo city limits, and finish at the Fuji International Speedway in the foothills of Mount Fuji. The men’s road race will hit three major climbs over 234km, and the women’s road race will cover one major climb over 137km. Time trials, held at the Fuji International Speedway, will be 44.2km for the men and 22.1km for the women.

Originally a temporary track venue in was planned for Ariake, a district of Tokyo, but to save $100 million in construction costs the track events will instead be held at the velodrome in Izu, 120km outside of Tokyo. The mountain bike events will also take place in Izu.

BMX will be the only cycling event held in the heart of Tokyo, at the Ariake Urban Sports Park. There was supposed to be a BMX freestyle test event on April 24 and 25, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 situation.

Hugo Houle

Who will be racing for Canada?

Michael Woods, fresh off the Tour de France, and Hugo Houle will race in the men’s road events. In the women’s road events, Karol-Ann Canuel and Leah Kirchmann (both road, time trial) will be coming from the Giro Rosa. The road lineup hasn’t changed since it was announced in 2020.

Canadians will compete in eight of the twelve track medal events, including women’s and men’s sprint, keirin and team pursuit, women’s omnium and the men’s madison (which is returning for the first time since the 2008 Olympic Games). Thirteen Canadians will race at the Izu velodrome.

RELATED: Cycling Canada just announced the road and track Olympic team for 2021

The cross-country mountain bike and BMX racing teams will be selected by June 2021.

Last Thursday the IOC announced that Pfizer and BioNTech will donate doses to inoculate athletes and officials preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, so any Canadian athletes not yet vaccinated should be receiving both doses before the Games kick off on July 23.