As the spotlight begins to fade on Rio de Janeiro, athletes from around the globe will already begin turning their attention to Tokyo, Japan, which will serve as host of the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Japan is preparing to welcome the Games for the fourth time in history. Tokyo also hosted the summer edition of the marquee event in 1964. The other two instances were for the Winter Games (Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998).
So let's take an early glance at all the important details for the 2020 Olympics. That's followed by a look at the logo as well as some notable storylines to follow in the years ahead.
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Dates: July 24-August 9, 2020
Schedule: Projected Calendar
U.S. TV: NBC Universal
Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt Likely Step Aside
Michael Phelps started his reign of Olympic dominance in 2004 in Athens. Usain Bolt arrived to the mainstream spotlight four years later in Beijing. The tandem has continued to wow people around the globe ever since with some of the most outstanding individual athletic feats ever witnessed.
The end of an era is on the horizon, though.
Phelps originally called it quits after the 2012 Games in London. He decided to make a comeback leading up to Rio because he felt there was some unfinished business. In April, he told Matt Lauer of NBC's Today about his change of mindset leading up to this second career finale.
"I want to be here. That's the difference. I had no desire to go to work out before," Phelps said. "I want to retire how I want to retire. And I have a great opportunity to do that. I mean, I haven't trained like this in a decade."
So his time in Rio was less about setting more records and more about coming to peace with the way he walked away from the sport he's helped carry for more than a decade. He won six more medals with his young son, Boomer, in the stands, and now he'll likely move on to the next phase of life for good.
Meanwhile, those hoping to witness Bolt will have some more time, just not on the Olympic stage. He told Matt Lawton of the Daily Mail last year that Rio was supposed to serve as his swansong, but he's decided to continue competing for another season.
"That was the initial plan (to sign off after Rio)," he said. "But my sponsor has asked me to go on for another year; to 2017 and London. But I'll be doing one event, the 100. I've already discussed it with my coach. I can concentrate on that, and on retiring on a winning note."
While it's always possible they could get the itch again and try to push toward an appearance in Tokyo in 2020, that seems like a long shot. Four years is a long time for any competitor to stay in top physical condition, and the body's response usually isn't as strong beyond the age of 30.
Ultimately, an athlete's descent is rarely as entertaining or rewarding as their ascent, especially given the heights Phelps and Bolt were able to reach. There's no reason to hang around too long.
Katie Ledecky Leads New Wave of Stars
As a pair of Olympic dynasties come to a close, another one is under way. Katie Ledecky got her first taste of gold in the Games in London four years ago and has since developed into a remarkable force in the pool, giving viewers a closer look at that ability in Rio en route to five medals, including some dominant wins.
Most amazingly, the American is still just 19 years old. That's why it was probably good for Phelps and Bolt to still be around this time. They took some pressure off her shoulders. But she'll assume the role as a marquee attraction in Tokyo.
USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus has set a high bar for what Ledecky is capable of achieving during her career, per Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post:
We're fortunate to be living in this age in our sport, the Ledecky era. I don't think we've ever seen anybody like Katie before. And I think in the future we're going to look back, and the sport's history will be divided into pre-Katie and post-Katie. She'll be this iconic figure by which all future distance and middle-distance swimmers will be measured.
The level of greatness Ledecky is capable of reaching is essential for the Olympic experience. That's because it sets the stage for either the next transformational athlete or a massive upset that will be remembered forever.
Unfortunately for her competitors, the latter outcome will probably become even more difficult to achieve four years from now. The Washington, D.C. native should be at her physical prime and ready to shine even brighter when the Summer Olympics return to the forefront in Tokyo.