In Depth

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: a guide to the games

Everything you need to know about the biggest event in sport

The lack of a dominant figure like Usain Bolt left a “slight sense of emptiness, of absent spectacle”, in the track and field events at Tokyo 2020, said Barney Ronay in The Guardian. It’s more the human-interest angle that has captured attention. 

In the men’s high jump, Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi took athletics’ first shared gold since 1912, after the best friends tied with each other jump for jump and declined a “jump-off” to separate them. And on Sunday another Italian became the first man from his country not just to compete in the 100m, but to win it, said Ben Bloom in The Daily Telegraph

Lamont Marcell Jacobs was born in Texas, but has lived in his Italian mother’s homeland since he was a baby. He hadn’t got to know his dad until shortly before this Olympics – a reunion that inspired him to victory, he says. Until 2019 he was best known as a long jumper, and before this May had never run under ten seconds. To call his victory unexpected “is an understatement of epic proportions”.

The race itself wasn’t that special. Although Jacobs’s time of 9.80 secs was a European record, it was still way off the world (9.58) and Olympic (9.63) records. By contrast, the women’s final was the “greatest women’s 100m race” ever, said Sean Ingle in The Observer. As in Beijing 2008, it finished with three Jamaicans on the podium. Former Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce had “detonated” off the blocks to take the lead, but with 30m to go, teammate Elaine Thompson-Herah “burned past her” to break the Olympic record with the second-fastest time in history. “It was a stunning moment in a breathtaking race.” But again the personal angle came to the fore. The two women are locked in a bitter feud and it was the frostiness between the pair after the race that caught the eye. And as she’d done in Rio, Thompson–Herah went on to win the 200m – a historic “double-double” in track.

After the completion of the Olympics, Tokyo will host the Paralympic Games from 24 August to 5 September.


The Tokyo 2020 silver, gold and bronze medals

Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

Tokyo medal table: the top six nations

Tokyo 2020 medal table day 16 top six

The United States finished top of the Tokyo 2020 medal table with 39 golds. China were second with 38 and hosts Japan were third with 27. Team GB finished fourth in the medal table with 22 gold, 21 silver and 22 bronze.

See the full table at


Jason Kenny won gold in the men’s track cycling keirin final

Jason Kenny won gold in the men’s track cycling keirin final

Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images

Team GB’s medal winners in Tokyo

After 16 days of sporting action Team GB finished the Tokyo Olympic Games fourth in the medal table with a total haul of 65 medals: 22 gold, 21 silver and 22 bronze. This matches the overall total from London 2012 and makes Tokyo 2020 Britain’s second-most successful overseas Olympics behind Rio 2016, where they won 67 medals. 

On the final day in Tokyo Jason Kenny became Team GB’s most successful Olympian of all time with the seventh gold medal of his glittering career. Kenny - who was level with Chris Hoy on six golds and Bradley Wiggins on eight medals - defended his keirin title to become the first Team GB athlete to win nine Olympic medals. 

Team GB secured another gold medal on the final day with boxer Lauren Price beating China’s Li Qian in the women’s middleweight final. British boxers have won two gold, two silver and two bronze medals in Tokyo, making them the most successful British Olympic boxing team since Antwerp 1920. 


Tokyo Olympic Games

Getty Images

How many athletes took part? 

There were more than 11,000 athletes from 205 nations competing at Tokyo 2020. As well as the national squads there were also 20 athletes which formed the Refugee Olympic Team (EOR). 

Team GB had its largest ever delegation for an Olympic Games on foreign soil: 376 athletes and a further 22 reserve athletes competing across 26 sports. For the first time at a summer games Team GB also had more female than male athletes, with 201 women (53.5%) and 175 men (46.5%). 


Jack Laugher

Al Bello/Getty Images

The sports

The Tokyo Olympics featured 33 sports and 339 medal events. Baseball/softball returned to the games after last appearing at Beijing 2008 and four new sports - karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing - made their Olympic debuts.

  • 3x3 Basketball
  • Archery
  • Artistic gymnastics
  • Artistic swimming
  • Athletics
  • Badminton
  • Baseball/Softball
  • Basketball
  • Beach volleyball
  • Boxing
  • Canoe slalom  
  • Canoe sprint
  • Cycling BMX freestyle
  • Cycling BMX racing
  • Cycling mountain bike
  • Cycling road
  • Cycling track
  • Diving
  • Equestrian
  • Fencing
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Handball
  • Hockey
  • Judo
  • Karate
  • Marathon
  • Swimming
  • Modern pentathlon
  • Rhythmic gymnastics
  • Rowing 
  • Rugby sevens 
  • Sailing
  • Shooting
  • Skateboarding: street and park 
  • Sport climbing
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Table tennis
  • Taekwondo
  • Tennis
  • Trampoline gymnastics
  • Triathlon
  • Volleyball
  • Water polo
  • Weightlifting
  • Wrestling


The Olympic Stadium is the main venue for Tokyo 2020

The Olympic Stadium is the main venue for Tokyo 2020

Behrouz Mehri/AFP via Getty Images

The venues

Tokyo Olympic Stadium

  • Events: opening and closing ceremonies, athletics, football

Aomi Urban Sports Park 

  • Events: 3x3 basketball; sport climbing; football 5-a-side 

Ariake Arena 

  • Events: volleyball; wheelchair basketball 

Ariake Gymnastics Centre 

  • Events: artistic gymnastics; rhythmic gymnastics; trampoline

Asaka Shooting Range 

  • Events: shooting 

Ariake Tennis Park 

  • Events: tennis; wheelchair tennis 

Ariake Urban Sports Park 

  • Events: cycling BMX; freestyle cycling; BMX racing; skateboarding 

Enoshima Yacht Harbour 

  • Events: sailing 

Equestrian Park 

  • Events: equestrian 

Fuji International Speedway 

  • Events: cycling road 

Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium 

  • Events: baseball/softball 

Ibaraki Kashima Stadium 

  • Events: football 

International Stadium Yokohama 

  • Events: football 

Izu MTB Course 

  • Events: cycling mountain bike 

Izu Velodrome 

  • Events: cycling track

Kasumigaseki Country Club 

  • Events: golf 

Kokugikan Arena 

  • Events: boxing 

Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre 

  • Events: canoe slalom 

Makuhari Messe Hall 

  • Events: fencing; taekwondo; wrestling; goalball 

Miyagi Stadium 

  • Events: Football 

Musashinonomori Park 

  • Events: cycling Road 

Musashino Forest Sport Plaza 

  • Events: badminton; modern pentathlon; wheelchair basketball 

Nippon Budokan 

  • Events: judo; karate 

Odaiba Marine Park 

  • Events: marathon swimming; triathlon 

Oi Hockey Stadium 

  • Events: hockey 

Sapporo Odori Park 

  • Events: athletics (marathon/race walking) 

Saitama Stadium 

  • Events: football 

Saitama Super Arena 

  • Events: basketball 

Sapporo Dome 

  • Events: football 

Sea Forest Cross-Country Course 

  • Events: equestrian 

Sea Forest Waterway 

  • Events: canoe sprint; rowing 

Shiokaze Park 

  • Events: beach volleyball 

Tatsumi Water Polo Centre 

  • Events: water polo 

Tokyo Aquatics Centre 

  • Events: artistic swimming; diving; swimming 

Tokyo International Forum 

  • Events: weightlifting; powerlifting 

Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium 

  • Events: table tennis 

Tokyo Stadium 

  • Events: football; modern pentathlon; rugby 

Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach 

  • Events: surfing 

Yokohama Baseball Stadium 

  • Events: baseball/softball 

Yoyogi National Stadium 

  • Events: handball; badminton; wheelchair rugby 

Yumenoshima Park Archery Field 

  • Events: archery


Fireworks explode during the Opening Ceremony

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

In pictures: the opening ceremony

The opening ceremony was held on Friday 23 July at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo. While there were no fans in the stands due to the Covid-19 state of emergency, there were around 1,000 VIPs and delegates, including Japan’s Emperor Naruhito.


Laura Kenny and Katie Archibald

Laura Kenny and Katie Archibald won gold in the madison

Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Tokyo 2020 closing ceremony: Laura Kenny named Team GB’s flagbearer

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games end on Sunday 8 August with the closing ceremony at the Olympic Stadium. Coverage on BBC One begins from 11.55am (BST). 

Laura Kenny has been named Team GB’s flagbearer for the closing ceremony. She was given the honour after confirming her place as Team GB’s most successful ever female Olympian. Kenny and Charlotte Dujardin both sit on six medals but Kenny has five golds and one silver, with Dujardin on three golds, one silver and two bronze.

“It’s an absolute honour to be selected as the Team GB flagbearer for the Tokyo 2020 closing ceremony, and it rounds off my games experience,” Kenny said. “The past 18 months have been tough for everyone, and I really hope me and my Team GB teammates have given the nation something to celebrate. It hasn’t quite sunk in that I am now Britain’s most successful female athlete, all I know is that I’ve worked so hard to be here and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family, friends and everyone at British Cycling.”


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