No hugs! No handshakes! No high fives! How Tokyo 2021 will look different from past Olympics

Picture a typical montage of Olympic footage; often it includes images of athletes from far-flung countries joining hands, competitors consoling one another with pats on the back after heartbreaking losses, teammates embracing in joyous celebration after winning hard-fought victories.

This year, there will be none of that.

Sportsmanship, long considered a hallmark of the quadrennial Olympic Games, will have to take a different form as new rules will prohibit the customary handshakes, high fives, and hugs at the world’s largest athletic event. The changes, published today in the International Olympic Committee’s first official “playbook” for the Tokyo 2021 summer games, which were deferred from 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic struck, offer a first glimpse at what the massive sports festival will look like in the age of the coronavirus.

And it will look spare, it appears, from a brief review of the book. Aside from discouraging physical contact, rules also state that spectators should support athletes only by clapping and should refrain from cheering, chanting, or singing.


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