5 Things to Know About the Next Olympics in Tokyo

By Jim Armstrong

TOKYO (AP) -- The countdown to the 2020 Olympics began Wednesday with the arrival of the Olympic flag in Tokyo from Rio de Janeiro. The contrast between the two host cities couldn't be starker. Instead of samba in the streets, there will be robots and self-driving cars. Five things to know about the next Summer Games:

HIGH-TECH OLYMPICS

When Tokyo first hosted the Olympics in 1964, the games symbolized Japan's recovery from the devastation of World War II and return to the international community. The high-speed 'Shinkansen' bullet train service, launched the same year, became a symbol of Japan's technological prowess.

Half a century later, Tokyo is one of the most futuristic cities in the world, from its smart-card train systems that run like clockwork to electronic toilets with heated seats that baffle some first-time visitors ("How do I flush this thing?").

Japan plans to use the 2020 Games to showcase more cutting-edge technology, with robots, instant language translation, self-driving vehicles and high-definition 8K TV all on display.
___

GETTING AROUND

The Tokyo Games won't be as compact as promised. While original plans called for all venues to be within an eight-kilometer (five-mile) radius of the Olympic Village, that won't be the case.

In an effort to cut costs, several events such as basketball, cycling and taekwondo have been moved to existing facilities outside of Tokyo instead of building new ones.

Tokyo's network of crisscrossing subway and commuter train lines will help. The challenge will be helping visitors navigate a system that is so extensive, it can be confusing.
___

NEW SPORTS

The games will have a different look from a sporting perspective.

Baseball and softball, surfing, skateboarding, karate and sports climbing have all been added to the program.

Baseball and softball, which are returning for the first time since 2008, and karate are popular in Japan.

Surfing, skateboarding and sports climbing have been added in a bid to appeal to a younger generation of athletes and fans.
___

SCANDALS

Every Olympics seems to have its scandals, and Tokyo is no exception.

Work on a new main stadium has fallen behind schedule, because the government abandoned the original design due to spiraling costs. The original logo for the games, unveiled with much fanfare, was scrapped over accusations of plagiarism.

The shifting of some events from new to existing venues has saved 200 billion yen ($2 billion), but overall costs are still expected to far exceed initial estimates.

The Tokyo organizing committee has admitted that the operating costs for the Games will be considerably higher than the $3 billion forecast in its bid, but it hasn't disclosed a new estimate.

That doesn't include the cost of building new sports venues and other Games-related infrastructure.
___

EARTHQUAKES

Then there are the forces that are beyond anyone's control.

Tokyo is regularly shaken by moderate earthquakes. They rarely cause any damage in a city where buildings are designed to withstand the shock, but experts warn that a major earthquake could happen anytime.

The coast of northeastern Japan was devastated in 2011 when an offshore magnitude 9.0 earthquake spawned a tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people and triggered meltdowns at three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

Tokyo hasn't had a massive earthquake in nearly a century, since a magnitude 7.9 quake and subsequent fires killed 140,000 people in 1923, so it may be overdue, although the timing of earthquakes is unpredictable.

U.S. Wins Team Golds At 2018 Pan American Gymnastics Championships

The U.S. men and U.S. women both won team gold medals at the 2018 Pan American Championships in Lima, Peru.

McCallum, Thomas Go One-Two AA At 2018 Pan Am Championships

Press release via USA Gymnastics.

After Placing 6th In US Champs All-Around, Jade Carey Vies For Worlds Spot

Jade Carey - Floor, USA - Official Podium Training - 2017 World Championships

Between the return of Simone Biles — the greatest gymnast of all time — and the tumult within USA Gymnastics, the last nine months have been an absolute roller coaster. But that's not going to keep us from constantly recognizing the hard work and brilliant gymnastics of these athletes.

2018 U.S. Championships Lovely Leo Winners

NCAA Gymnastics 2019 Season Hype: Trinity Thomas Is Coming To Gainesville

We’re continuing our series on the new additions to NCAA gymnastics team rosters, highlighting the Florida Gators today. The Gators had a couple of important contributors graduate last year, including Kennedy Baker, Alex McMurtry, and Rachel Slocum. How they replace these losses will determine how far they can go this year in NCAA competition.

Elevate The Stage: JO To NCAA Gymnasts

Elevate the Stage is a podium-style gymnastics competition for NCAA and J.O. teams, and FloGymnastics is excited to again bring you live coverage of the meets in the 2019 season.

Lovely Leos: 2018 U.S. Gymnastics Championships Day 2

We've got a winner from day 1, and now it's time to vote for Day 2's loveliest leo from the 2018 U.S. Championships!

University Of Illinois At Chicago To Cut NCAA Gymnastics Teams

The University of Illinois at Chicago men's and women's gymnastics teams were informed on August 31 that the 2018-2019 competition season would be the final year for both teams. 

NCAA Gymnastics 2019 Season Hype: Olivia Trautman Leads The New Sooners

School is back in session, which means that your favorite NCAA gymnastics teams are also back in action with team retreats, strategy sessions, and hardcore conditioning. Though not every 2018-19 roster has been released yet, several are up online, allowing fans to have a look at the newcomers and how they might fit into the team. 

Letter To Membership From USA Gymnastics Board Chair Karen Golz

Below is a letter from USA Gymnastics board chair Karen Golz about Kerry Perry resigning as CEO and president of USA Gymnastics, via USAGym.

Dear USA Gymnastics Community:I am writing to tell you that USA Gymnastics President and CEO Kerry Perry informed our Board of Directors last night that she will resign effective immediately. On behalf of the board, I want to thank Kerry for her leadership under very difficult circumstances. As you know, USA Gymnastics has been in the midst of a difficult and painful transition to ensure that the safety and interests of our athletes remain at the heart of our mission. While much as been accomplished over the past several months to stabilize the organization, we still face tremendous challenges as we all work to achieve fundamental changes to move our sport forward. We look forward to bringing in new leadership to build on the progress to date, and the board will immediately begin the search for an interim CEO. In the meantime, it has established a management committee to provide organizational oversight to maintain continuity in the day-to-day operations until an interim CEO is named. Additionally, the board is in the process of forming a search committee made up of board members, as well as athletes and others from the gymnastics and NGB community, to find our next permanent leader. Board member and Olympian Brent Lang, president and CEO of Vocera, will chair the committee. We will keep you informed as we work through our urgent leadership issues. I want to assure you that this board is determined to take the necessary steps to support a safe and competitive environment where every athlete can grow, learn life lessons, have fun and succeed. We know the last few years have been very difficult for everyone involved with USA Gymnastics, and we thank you for your patience and support through these challenging days. The athletes, parents, coaches, judges, volunteers, gym owners and USA Gymnastics staff are the heart and soul of USA Gymnastics, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that our athletes and everyone involved with our great sport and movement achieve their fullest potential. Sincerely,Karen GolzChair, Board of DirectorsUSA Gymnastics