Athletes from around the world will participate in 339 disciplines across 33 different sports.
The eagerly anticipated Tokyo Olympics 2020 is now less than three months away. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the games were rescheduled for a full year. This will be the first time ever that the Olympic Games have been postponed and rescheduled, rather than cancelled. So, the excitement is palpable.
The 32nd edition of the mega event will feature a total of 33 sports, including five new ones. This decision was taken way back at the 129th International Olympic Committee (IOC) session that was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was proposed by the Organizing Committee of the Tokyo Olympics.
Let’s take a look at all the sports that will be played at the 2020 Olympics:
Aquatics will feature four different disciplines – Artistic Swimming, Diving, Swimming and Water polo, with Swimming being the most prominent among the above four.
Most Gold medals (in Swimming): United States (246)
Player to watch out for: Caeleb Dressel (USA)
Dressel has been cast as the heir to Michael Phelps as the face of swimming in the US and, potentially, the world. The freestyle, breaststroke and butterfly sprint specialist equalled Phelps’s world championships record with seven gold medals in Budapest two years ago and has the potential to grab a fair few headlines at the Games.
Most Gold medals: South Korea (23)
Player to watch out for: Deepika Kumari (India)
Kumari will be the only women’s archer from India to participate in Tokyo Olympics and looks like India’s best bet for a medal in the sport. This will be the third Olympics for the Ranchi girl and she will be hoping for a better outing this time around, after being ousted in the Round of 16 four years earlier in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Most Gold medals: United States (332)
Player to watch out for: Neeraj Chopra (India)
Hopes will be high ahead of Chopra’s Olympics debut in the javelin throw event. The 23-year-old had bagged a Commonwealth Games Gold at Gold Coast in 2018, and looks in good shape ahead of the Tokyo Games.
Most Gold medals: China (18)
Player to watch out for: PV Sindhu (India, yet to qualify)
The Indian shuttlers are yet to book their spots in Tokyo Olympics. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) will publish the qualified athletes’ list on June 15th. Subject to qualification, PV Sindhu is India’s leading light in the sport and will be hoping to go one better after clinching silver in Rio 2016.
Baseball and its other variant Softball will be amongst the new sports in Tokyo. It was a part of the Olympics since 1992, until it was dropped after Beijing 2008. It will be reintroduced this year and is an immensely popular sport in Japan.
Most Gold medals (in Baseball): Cuba (3)
Team to watch out for: Japan
The host nation is currently ranked no. 1 in baseball. Japan had won Olympic silver in 1996 and will be hoping to create history by winning the country’s first-ever Gold in the sport on home turf.
Most Gold medals: United States (23)
Team to watch out for: United States
The reigning three-time winners is by far the most successful country in Olympic basketball, with the United States men’s teams having won 15 of 18 tournaments in which they have participated.
Most Gold medals: United States (50)
Player to watch out for: Mary Kom (India)
An inspiration to millions, Mary Kom, will be one of nine Indian boxers to have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. The London 2012 Bronze medal winner will be leading India’s charge in the sport and hoping to come back home with the biggest prize of them all.
Most Gold medals: Germany (32)
Player to watch out for: Lisa Carrington (New Zealand)
The Kiwi is one of the most dominant athletes on the planet. She is a two-time Olympic gold medallist, a ten-time world champion and the world record holder. She hasn’t lost a K1 200m race since 2012, and will be aiming to become the first woman ever to win the K1 200m and 500m Gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics.
Most Gold medals: France (41)
Player to watch out for: Laura Kenny (Great Britain)
Kenny is Britain’s most successful female Olympian with four Gold medals across London 2012 and Rio 2016. The 29-year-old Essex born will be hoping to add at least two more Gold in team pursuit and omnium.
Most Gold medals: Germany (25)
Player to watch out for: Fouaad Mirza (India)
Mirza became the first Indian equestrian to qualify for the Olympics in 20 years. The 2018 Asian Games silver-medal winner finished first in the South East Asia-Oceania group to book his ticket to Tokyo Olympics.
Most Gold medals: Italy (49)
Player to watch out for: Bhavani Devi (India)
The 27-year-old from Chennai became the first-ever Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics. She is the second-highest ranked Asian and stands at 42nd place in the world.
Most Gold medals: India (8)
Team to watch out for: India
The Indian men’s hockey team have been going through a resurgence in the past couple of years. The Men in Blue are currently ranked 5th in the world and will be hoping to end a 40-year drought for an Olympic medal.
Most Gold medals: United States (4)
Team to watch out for: United States
With men’s football being age-restricted, women’s football is where we get to witness the biggest stars of the game. The United States, who have been drawn in a group containing Sweden, Australia and New Zealand, has won four of the six editions. They will be looking to reclaim the Gold after Germany’s triumph in Rio 2016. In addition to the Olympic host city of Tokyo, matches will also be played in Kashima, Saitama, Sapporo, Sendai and Yokohama.
Most Gold medals: United States (3)
Player to watch out for: Ko Jin-young (South Korea)
Similar to football, the women’s golf event might be more glamorous than the men’s. Recently, Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott pulled out of the Games leaving uncertainty over men’s participants. That leaves women’s world no. 1 Ko Jin-young of South Korea to be the one on whom there will be much of the spotlight in Japan.
Most Gold medals: Soviet Union (72)
Player to watch out for: Simone Biles (United States)
Biles had won an extraordinary four Gold medals in seven days in Rio, raising her level in the world championships since. The American will enter Tokyo Olympics as the runaway favourite and her only competition will be – herself!
Most Gold medals: Soviet Union & Denmark (4)
Team to watch out for: Denmark
Denmark won their second successive world championship title earlier this year in Egypt. The Danes beat Sweden in the final and are the defending Olympic champions after clinching their maiden men’s title in Rio.
Most Gold medals: Japan (39)
Player to watch out for: Teddy Riner (France)
The 6ft 8in French judoka has won 10 Gold medals at the Judo World Championship and is the only player to achieve this milestone. Nicknamed “Teddy Bear”, he has won two Olympic Gold medals and will be defending his title in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
Karate will make its debut in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Both men and women athletes will be competing to win the medals up for grabs in Kata and Kumite events. It will take place at the Nippon Budokan, where the very first Karate World Championships took place in 1970.
Player to watch out for: Rafael Aghayev (Azerbaijan)
Fondly known as the “Diamond of the Karate World”, Aghayev is a five-time World Champion and an eleven-time European Champion. The 36-year-old will look to enhance his reputation at the upcoming games in Japan.
The modern pentathlon event comprises five sports disciplines, namely, Fencing, Shooting, 200m Freestyle Swimming, Showjumping and Running.
Most Gold medals: Hungary & Sweden (9)
Player to watch out for: Joseph Choong (Great Britain)
Choong, the current world no. 1, claimed the Gold medal in the European Championships in 2019. A year earlier, he had won Silver at the World Championships. The 25-year-old British modern pentathlete will be looking to claim his first Olympic medal in Tokyo.
Most Gold medals: United States & East Germany (33)
Player to watch out for: Valent Sinkovic (Croatia)
The Croatian rower is the reigning Gold medallist after winning in Rio 2016, along with his older sibling Martin. The 32-year-old also has six World Championships titles and five European Championships titles to his collection.
The sport was played for the first time at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Most Gold medals: Australia & Fiji (1)
Team to watch out for: New Zealand
The All Black Sevens were knocked out by eventual champions Fiji in Rio 2016. However, they have won a record 12 World Rugby Sevens Series titles and are the current Rugby World Cup Sevens, Commonwealth Games and World Series title holders. They will be hoping to add a new feather to their crown in Tokyo.
Most Gold medals: Great Britain (28)
Player to watch out for: Nethra Kumanan (India)
Kumanan is the first Indian sailor to get a direct entry into the Summer Games, after securing a top-place finish in the laser-radial event at the Mussanah Open Championship in Oman. The trailblazer sailor from Chennai is also the first Indian woman to win a medal in the sport after clinching a bronze in the second round of the Hempel World Cup Series in Miami last year.
Shooting is India’s biggest medal hope. The nation has achieved at least a medal in the sport in three of the last four Olympics.
Most Gold medals: United States (54)
Player to watch out for: Manu Bhaker (India)
The teenage shooting sensation has already captured the imagination of many in her burgeoning career. She has already won seven ISSF World Cup Gold medals and the top prize at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. Now, Bhaker is all set to appear in her first-ever Olympics. The fact that India is banking on a 19-year-old for an Olympic medal in her debut Olympics speaks volumes about her abilities.
Skateboarding is another of the new sports that will make its debut in Tokyo. There will be two categories of skateboarding. The street category will have a straight route and participants will need to skate through the stairs, handrails, boxes and benches. On the other hand, the park category will take place on a surface with slopes and complicated curves, to make life a bit tougher for the competitors.
Player to watch out for: Nyjah Huston (United States)
Huston is considered as one of the best street skaters ever. The American has won four Gold medals at the World Skateboarding Championships and a whopping 12 Gold medals at the Summer X Games. It wouldn’t be a bad time to add an Olympic Gold medal to his cabinet in Tokyo!
Another of the new sports to keep an eye out for out in Tokyo. It is the sophisticated form of rock climbing, with climbers needing to climb artificial rocks/walls.
Player to watch out for: Janja Garnbet (Slovenia)
The 22-year-old has been described as a “reincarnated spider monkey” because of her ability to scale walls and in 2019 became the first athlete to win every bouldering World Cup event in a season. She will be the heavy favourite for an Olympic Gold in Japan.
The world’s finest surfers will make their debut at the Tokyo Games. They will compete on the Pacific coast of Japan. The Tsurigasaki Beach in Chiba prefecture will host the first-ever surfing event to be organized at the Olympics.
Player to watch out for: Stephanie Gilmore (Australia)
A seven-times world champion, the surfer will represent Australia in the sport’s Olympic debut. If she can overcome the likes of fellow countrywoman Sally Fitzgibbons and the Hawaiian Carissa Moore, the natural-footer will have a real shot at Gold. It would be a fitting triumph, given Gilmore and her country’s consistent surfing success over the past decade.
Most Gold medals: China (28)
Player to watch out for: Manika Batra (India)
The top-ranked female Indian table tennis player is a double Commonwealth Games Gold medal winner. She will be looking to improve her showing after a first-round exit in the women’s individual event at the Rio Olympics. Batra will also pair up with veteran Sharath Kamal in the mixed doubles category.
Most Gold medals: South Korea (12)
Player to watch out for: Jade Jones (Great Britain)
Dubbed “the Headhunter”, Jones is the first British athlete to win an Olympic taekwondo Gold when she won the laurel in front of vociferous home support in London 2012. She made it back-to-back victories with Gold in Rio and will be bidding to become the first athlete in her sport to claim three Olympic titles.
Most Gold medals: United States (21)
Player to watch out for: Naomi Osaka (Japan)
The current world no. 2 is the reigning US Open and Australian Open champion. One of the most recognizable athletes on the planet has won four Grand Slam titles and will be looking to have a memorable outing in Tokyo.
Most Gold medals: Great Britain & Switzerland (2)
Player to watch out for: Georgia Taylor-Brown (Great Britain)
The British contingent also consists of Vicky Holland and Jess Learmonth in a solid looking lineup. However, the reigning women’s world champion will be going all out for glory in Tokyo.
Most Gold medals: Soviet Union (7)
Team to watch out for: Brazil
Reigning Olympic champions Brazil will be the team to beat in the men’s competition. Brazil’s men were undefeated throughout the 2019 FIVB World Cup season, eventually being crowned champions. The Samba boys will aim to add their third Gold in the last five Summer Olympics.
Most Gold medals: Soviet Union (39)
Player to watch out for: Lasha Talakhadze (Georgia)
Rio 2016 Gold medallist Lasha Talakhadze, one of the most prolific lifters in the sport is definitely one to watch out for in Tokyo. The four-time world champion has set several world records in his career and is considered one of the best super-heavyweight lifters of all time.
Most Gold medals: Soviet Union (62)
Player to watch out for: Vinesh Phogat (India)
Wrestling will be an event that the whole of India will be keeping close tabs on. Phogat will be one of the six Indian wrestlers on the flight to the Tokyo Olympics. The two-time Commonwealth Games Gold medal winner recently claimed her first-ever Asian Championships title in Almaty and the entire nation will be praying with bated breath when she will take centre stage in the women’s freestyle 53kg event.