With 10 days remaining to the end of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, here are the highlights for the big stars and key events.
Saturday, 31 July – day eight
Medal events: 21
Archery (men’s individual), athletics (men’s discus, mixed 4x400m relay, women’s 100m), badminton (men’s doubles), fencing (women’s team sabre), judo (mixed team), rugby sevens (women), sailing (women’s RS:X, men’s RS:X), shooting (trap mixed team, women’s 50m rifle 3 positions), swimming (men’s 100m fly, women’s 200m back, women’s 800m free, mixed 4x100m medley relay), tennis (women’s singles), trampoline (men), triathlon (mixed relay), weightlifting (men’s 81kg, men’s 96kg).
The men’s football tournament reaches the quarter-final stage with games at 09:00, 10:00, 11:00 and 12:00.
Five years ago, the men’s discus brought a Harting-to-Harting moment in Rio. For the first time in Olympic history, one brother succeeded another as a champion of the same event when Germany’s Christoph Harting won gold, four years after brother Robert Harting did the same. Christoph has barely competed over the past couple of years and his brother has retired, so there may be a parting from Harting in 2021. The final runs from 12:15 to 13:25.
Not wanting to miss out on all the mixed action, judo launches its mixed team event on Saturday (03:00-11:50). This is new for Tokyo 2020 and involves teams of six athletes – your team has to win at least 4-2 against the other nation to progress. A 3-3 draw means a ‘golden score’ contest to find a winner.
Sunday, 1 August – day nine
Medal events: 25
Artistic gymnastics (men’s floor, women’s vault, men’s pommel horse, women’s uneven bars), athletics (women’s shot put, men’s high jump, women’s triple jump, men’s 100m), badminton (women’s singles), cycling (women’s BMX freestyle, men’s BMX freestyle), diving (women’s 3m springboard), fencing (men’s team foil), golf (men), sailing (laser radial women, laser men), swimming (men’s 50m free, women’s 50m free, men’s 1500m free, women’s 4x100m medley relay, men’s 4x100m medley relay), tennis (men’s singles, women’s doubles, mixed doubles), weightlifting (women’s 76kg).
Qatar has never won an Olympic title but that could change in the men’s high jump (11:10-13:00), where the first man ever to successfully defend the high jump world title – Mutaz Barshim – will compete. Maksim Nedasekau, from Belarus, will be one of Barshim’s big rivals.
Colombia’s flagbearer, Caterine Ibarguen, will defend her Olympic triple jump title (12:20-1340) although by her own admission she hasn’t had the best of build-ups. In a Latin American duel, she’s likely to be challenged by Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas, who has defeated Ibarguen to win the past two world titles. The world record in this event, which has stood for more than a quarter of a century, could fall.
Greco-Roman wrestling starts on Sunday (from 03:00). Wrestlers contributed two of Cuba’s five gold medals at Rio 2016, including one from Ismael Borrero in the men’s 60kg category, which leads off the Tokyo wrestling schedule. Borrero has reportedly recovered from Covid-19 to compete.
Monday, 2 August – day 10
Medal events: 22
Artistic gymnastics (men’s rings, women’s floor, men’s vault), athletics (men’s long jump, women’s 100m hurdles, women’s discus, men’s 3,000m steeplechase, women’s 5,000m), badminton (women’s doubles, men’s singles), cycling (women’s team sprint), equestrian (eventing team, eventing individual), sailing (49er FX women, 49er men), shooting (men’s 25m rapid fire pistol, men’s 50m rifle 3 positions), weightlifting (women’s 87kg, women’s +87kg), wrestling (women’s freestyle 76kg, men’s Greco-Roman 60kg, men’s Greco-Roman 130kg).
The women’s 100m hurdles (03:50) offers a chance at redemption for Keni Harrison after a five-year wait. Harrison failed to gain selection for Team USA at Rio 2016 despite going on to break the world record just days before the Olympics. At Tokyo 2020, Harrison will lead the US challenge and can expect competition from Puerto Rico’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, who has set some of the year’s fastest times. Reigning world champion Nia Ali will be watching from home with her newborn son (whose father is Canadian sprinter Andre de Grasse).
Two of the gymnastics‘ showpiece events are staged on Monday. The men’s rings event (09:00) is one of the Olympics’ defining images of strength as athletes perform manoeuvres while suspending themselves from a set of rings. Greece’s Eleftherios Petrounias, the Rio 2016 gold medallist, is probably the favourite but Ibrahim Colak is the reigning world champion after taking Turkey’s first gymnastics world title in 2019.
Meanwhile, the women’s floor event (09:45) is another chance for a Simone Biles masterclass. GB’s Jessica Gadirova enters Tokyo 2020 as the new European champion.
Badminton concludes with the gold medal matches in women’s doubles and men’s singles (05:00-15:00). World number one and two-time world champion Kento Momota will hope to win the men’s gold for hosts Japan in the face of stiff Chinese competition. China’s double Olympic champion Lin Dan retired last year, but Chen Long could emulate Lin in winning back-to-back titles if he adds a Tokyo victory to his Rio gold.
Tuesday, 3 August – day 11
Medal events: 22
Artistic gymnastics (men’s parallel bars, women’s beam, men’s horizontal bar), athletics (women’s long jump, men’s 400m hurdles, men’s pole vault, women’s hammer throw, women’s 800m, women’s 200m), boxing (women’s feather, men’s welter), canoe sprint (women’s K1 200m, men’s C2 1,000m, men’s K1 1,000m, women’s K2 500m), cycling (women’s team pursuit, men’s team sprint), diving (men’s 3m springboard), sailing (mixed Nacra 17, men’s Finn), weightlifting (men’s 109kg), wrestling (women’s freestyle 68kg, men’s Greco-Roman 77kg, men’s Greco-Roman 97kg).
The women’s 800m final (13:25) is a chance to watch Uganda’s Halimah Nakaayi, who performed a victory dance with team-mate Winnie Nanyondo after winning world gold in 2019. They were the first Ugandan women to reach a middle-distance world final. GB’s Laura Muir withdrew from the 800m to focus on the 1500m, so Keely Hodgkinson and Jemma Reekie are joined by Alexandra Bell in the British contingent.
The men’s 400m hurdles (03:20) could be one of Tokyo’s most entertaining finals as a host of stars bid to succeed Kerron Clement, who won gold in Rio but isn’t in the US team this time. Norwegian world champion Karsten Warholm is at the top of the list, having broken the 400m hurdles world record – which was 29 years old – at the start of July.
Brazil’s Thiago Braz delivered one of Rio’s defining images when he won the 2016 host nation’s only athletics gold medal in the men’s pole vault (11:20). Braz hasn’t reached a major podium since but could still be a contender in Tokyo, where the main threat is expected from Sweden’s Armand Duplantis and American Sam Kendricks.
Wednesday, 4 August – day 12
Medal events: 17
Artistic swimming (duet), athletics (women’s 400m hurdles, women’s 3,000m steeplechase, men’s hammer, men’s 800m, men’s 200m), boxing (men’s light-heavy), cycling (men’s team pursuit), equestrian (individual), marathon swimming (women), sailing (women’s 470, men’s 470), skateboarding (women’s park), weightlifting (men’s +109kg), wrestling (women’s freestyle 62kg, men’s Greco-Roman 67kg, men’s Greco-Roman 87kg).
The women’s golf tournament begins (23:30 on Tuesday to 08:00 on Wednesday). All three medallists from Rio are back, world number one Nelly Korda of the US will take part alongside sister Jessica, and Japan’s hopes are led by Nasa Hataoka.
On weightlifting‘s last day, we move to the heaviest weight class: the men’s +109kg (11:50-14:00). Georgia’s Lasha Talakhadze is the favourite. Talakhadze’s lift of 485kg in April this year is the highest total recorded in the sport’s history. That’s roughly the weight of an adult dromedary camel.
Thursday, 5 August – day 13
Medal events: 27
Athletics (men’s triple jump, men’s shot put, men’s 110m hurdles, men’s 20km race walk, women’s pole vault, men’s 400m, women’s heptathlon, men’s decathlon), boxing (men’s feather), canoe sprint (men’s K1 200m, women’s C1 200m, women’s K1 500m, men’s K2 1,000m), cycling (women’s keirin, men’s omnium), diving (women’s 10m platform), hockey (men), karate (women’s kata, women’s kumite -55g, men’s kumite -67kg), marathon swimming (men), skateboarding (men’s park), sport climbing (men), table tennis (women’s team), wrestling (women’s freestyle 57kg, men’s freestyle 57kg, men’s freestyle 86kg).
Ashton Eaton has retired after winning the decathlon in 2012 and 2016, so the crown in the 10-event athletics bonanza is up for grabs. Contenders include France’s Kevin Mayer, Canadian Damian Warner, German world champion Niklas Kaul and Estonia’s Maicel Uibo are in the mix. The deciding 1500m race starts at 13:40.
Meanwhile, the men’s shot put final (03:05-04:15) will feature Ryan Crouser, the American who broke the event’s 31-year-old world record in the weeks leading up to the Games. Crouser appropriately described breaking that record as “a huge weight lifted”.
A custom-built park on Tokyo Bay will welcome the men’s park skateboarding finalists (04:30-05:20). Hawaiian Heimana Reynolds is a leading contender for gold after winning the world title in 2019, his breakthrough year. Reynolds’ favourite training technique is rock running: picking up a heavy rock than using it to run, weighed down, along the ocean floor off the coast of Hawaii.
Friday, 6 August – day 14
Medal events: 23
Athletics (women’s 20km race walk, men’s 50km race walk, women’s javelin, men’s 5,000m, women’s 400m, women’s 1500m, women’s 4x100m relay, men’s 4x100m relay), beach volleyball (women), boxing (men’s heavy), cycling (women’s madison, men’s sprint), football (women), hockey (women), karate (men’s kata, women’s kumite -61kg, men’s kumite -75kg), modern pentathlon (women), sport climbing (women), table tennis (men’s team), wrestling (women’s freestyle 53kg, men’s freestyle 74kg, men’s freestyle 125kg).
Generally speaking, beach volleyball has been dominated at the Olympics by the United States and Brazil – both being countries where playing volleyball on a beach has a certain appeal. But that’s changing. Three of the past four world titles in the women’s event (02:00-04:50) have gone to other nations, the latest being won by Canada. Friday’s medal games will help to illuminate whether that shift in power has reached the Olympic stage.
Rhythmic gymnastics begins on Friday with individual all-around qualification (02:20-09:45). This sport is basically ‘the other gymnastics’ to British viewers used to watching only artistic gymnastics since Britain has barely ever entered the Olympic rhythmic gymnastics, which involves routines completed with ribbons, hoops, balls and clubs to complement the performance. Russia dominates rhythmic gymnastics – this year, Dina and Arina Averina could force statisticians to look up the last time, if ever, twins took first and second place in a summer Olympic individual event.
Saturday, 7 August – day 15
Medal events: 34
Artistic swimming (team), athletics (women’s marathon, women’s high jump, women’s 10,000m, men’s javelin, men’s 1500m, women’s 4x400m relay, men’s 4x400m relay), baseball, basketball (men), beach volleyball (men), boxing (women’s fly, men’s fly, women’s welter, men’s middle), canoe sprint (women’s C2 500m, men’s C1 1,000m, women’s K4 500m, men’s K4 500m), cycling (men’s madison), diving (men’s 10m platform), equestrian (jumping team), football (men), golf (women), handball (men), karate (women’s kumite +61kg, men’s kumite +75kg), modern pentathlon (men), rhythmic gymnastics (individual), volleyball (men), water polo (women), wrestling (women’s freestyle 50kg, men’s freestyle 65kg, men’s freestyle 97kg).
The men’s basketball final (03:30) is ordinarily a coronation for the United States, who’ve won six of the seven Olympic titles since NBA players began competing at the Games in 1992. The fact that the gold-medal game takes place well before the bronze-medal game – to accommodate US prime-time TV – tells you everything you need to know about American confidence in their team.
The women’s marathon takes place in Sapporo, the capital of the northern island of Hokkaido well away from Tokyo, after concern that Tokyo’s summer heat could prove too much for such a demanding event. Covid-19 measures will mean the unusual sight of the marathon taking place without any spectators lining the streets. Britain’s contenders are Steph Twell, Jess Piasecki and Stephanie Davis.
Handball’s men’s final takes place at 13:00. France, Denmark and Norway will all expect to be in the mix for medals in a sport dominated by European countries. France’s hopes may rest on talismanic star Nikola Karabatic’s recovery from a knee injury.
Sunday, 8 August – day 16
Medal events: 13
Athletics (men’s marathon), basketball (women), boxing (women’s light, men’s light, women’s middle, men’s super-heavy), cycling (men’s keirin, women’s sprint, women’s omnium), handball (women), rhythmic gymnastics (group), volleyball (women), water polo (men).
Lang Ping won volleyball gold as a player in 1984 then returned as coach to guide her national team, China, to the Olympic title in Rio five years ago. Nicknamed the ‘Iron Hammer’ in a subsequent documentary, Lang is back to defend that title in Tokyo. Her team could face Japan in Sunday’s women’s final (05:30), which would mean a reunion with Japan coach Kumi Nakada, another veteran of Los Angeles 1984 – she played as Japan took bronze.