Happy New Year! Take a look at the key milestones for Tokyo as the countdown to the Olympic Games gathers pace

The sun is seen behind the Olympic rings in Odaiba marine park on 24 March 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.
The sun is seen behind the Olympic rings in Odaiba marine park on 24 March 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.

It's Olympic year! And with over 200 days to go until the start of the Olympic Games, it's time to get the diary out and start planning for the key dates of 2021...

The new year is finally upon us and with the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 now almost 200 days away, it’s time to look ahead and enjoy what’s set to be a feast of sporting action and monumental events in 2021.

From Olympic qualifiers to World Cups, this year is guaranteed to be like no other. Here’s what’s coming up in 2021:

5 January: 200 days to go

After a painful 2020 it’s time to look ahead and count down the days until we finally see the world’s best athletes take centre stage on the greatest platform of them all. On your marks…

January – February: Back to the action

You don’t have to wait long to see Olympic hopefuls strut their stuff as sporting fixtures around the world swing back into action. The men’s handball World Championship leads the charge from 13 January, with the first Grand Slam of the year – the Australian Open – serving up a treat from 18 January. The coming weeks will see the resumption of tournaments in badminton, wrestling, athletics, judo, hockey, track cycling, artistic swimming and karate… and that’s to name just a few!

Novak Djokovic of Serbia poses with fans and the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup after winning the Men's Singles Final against Dominic Thiem of Austria at the 2020 Australian Open (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic of Serbia poses with fans and the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup after winning the Men's Singles Final against Dominic Thiem of Austria at the 2020 Australian Open (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
2020 Getty Images

4 March: Artistic swimming

Back to Japan and the first of the Olympic qualifiers in 2021 will see some of the best athletes take to the water in unison to compete for a prized place at Tokyo 2020.

11 March: 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake

Japan will come together and pause to reflect on the devastating earthquake and tsunami that shook Tohoku and the world on 11 March 2011.

25 March: Olympic Torch Relay ‘Hope Lights Our Way’

Since its arrival in Japan, the torch has been kept alight and housed at the Olympic Museum in Tokyo. But from 25 March, the iconic flame will begin its journey through all 47 prefectures, showcasing the recovery of the areas worst affected by the disaster as well as acting as a beacon of light in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Japanese athletes NOMURA Tadahiro and YOSHIDA Saori hold the Olympic Torch Relay Lantern aloft
Japanese athletes NOMURA Tadahiro and YOSHIDA Saori hold the Olympic Torch Relay Lantern aloft
(c) Tokyo 2020 / Uta MUKUO

10 April: Water Polo Test Event

There are 18 sporting events for Tokyo 2020 that need to be put through their paces in the lead up to the Games as officials test a variety of measures from technology to crowd control. Initially planned to take place in 2020 before COVID had other ideas, the events are now firmly back on the sporting calendar with one of the opening acts of 2021 taking place at the city's iconic Tatsumi Water Polo Centre.

Keep up-to-date with the latest Test Event schedule on Tokyo 2020.

14 April: 100 days to go

The countdown to Tokyo 2020 picks up a notch in mid-April as the clock ticks down to the glittering start of the Opening Ceremony.

18 April & 4 May: World Cups in Tokyo

The world’s greatest athletes will be twisting and turning their way to glory as the Diving World Cup (from 18 April) and Artistic Gymnastics World Cup (4 May) make their bow in Japan. Who will be hitting peak form in the run-up to the Games?

Are you READY STEADY TOKYO?

28 April: Skateboarding Test Event

Attention turns to the Ariake Urban Sports Park in April as the world prepares to see one of the five new Olympic sports warm-up for their debut at Tokyo 2020. Get set to watch some of the greatest athletes weave, grind and spin their way around slopes, stairs and handrails in both the park and street disciplines.

Do you know the difference between an ollie and a goofy foot? Get the lowdown on one of the newest Olympic sports: Skateboarding.

23 June: Olympic Day & One month to go

With just one month to go until the start of the Games, why not get in the mood by taking part in Olympic Day! The annual event coincides with the one-month countdown this year and it’s set to be another epic, following hot on the heels of last year’s 24-hour Olympic Day workout.

23 July – 8 August: Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Expectation and anticipation is expected to reach fever pitch by the time the Olympic cauldron is lit at the Opening Ceremony. Delayed by a year because of COVID-19, the world prepares to unite once again for the greatest show on earth.

24 Aug – 5 Sept: Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020

Just a few weeks later and attention turns to the Opening Ceremony of the 16th Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo. Over the course of the following 12 days, some 4,000 athletes will compete in 540 events across 22 sports for the greatest prize in Paralympic sport as the spotlight shines on Tokyo once again.