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The opening ceremony for Tokyo 2020 will take place on Friday, July 23
The opening ceremony for Tokyo 2020 will take place on Friday, July 23

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is already threatening to be more about Track and Trace than track and field, with several competitors already in self-isolation ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony.

As with every Games though, there are some key questions on everybody’s lips. So let us guide you through some answers that will make you an instant expert on the greatest show on earth.  

When do the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games begin?

The official start date for the summer Games is the opening ceremony on Friday, July 23, 2021, with the closing ceremony set for Sunday, August 8.

The first event actually begins on July 21 at 9am local time as the softball starts with hosts Japan facing Australia, while there’s some women’s football later in the day. The men’s football kicks-off on July 22.

Is this the first time Tokyo has hosted the Games?

Three of Great Britain's 1964 gold medal winners, Lynn Davies, far left, Ann Packer, centre, and Ken Matthews
Three of Great Britain's 1964 gold medal winners, Lynn Davies, far left, Ann Packer, centre, and Ken Matthews

No. The Japanese capital first staged the Games in 1964 with the XVIII Olympiad — that’s 18th if you’re not into Roman numerals. This latest edition is the XXXII Olympiad (32nd). 

Team Great Britain produced four gold medalists in 1964, Ken Matthews (men's 20 km walk), Lynn Davies (men's long jump), Ann Packer (women's 800m) and Mary Rand (women's long jump).  

What is the time difference between the UK and Japan?

Japan is eight hours ahead of the UK. When the day’s action begins at 9am in Tokyo it will be 1am in London.  

How many gold medals will be won?

There will be a record 339 gold medals being competed for at Tokyo 2020, spread over 33 sports and hosted by 42 different venues. 

What new sports will feature in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games?

Australian climber Oceana Mackenzie in training at her Melbourne home
Australian climber Oceana Mackenzie in training at her Melbourne home

Some of the five ‘new’ sports being contested in Tokyo have featured previously in the summer Olympics. 

Baseball/softball is appearing as a combined package, with baseball for the men and softball for the women. Both last appeared in the summer Games at Beijing 2008. 

The official five new sports to look out for are baseball/softball, karate, surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing. 

Yes, technically that’s six, but the Olympics has deemed that baseball and softball are one hybrid event and who are we to argue?

When will we see the first gold medal?

We’ll see the first glint of gold on July 24, or 11 glints to be more precise as that’s how many gold medals will be awarded on the first Saturday of the Games. 

The very first gold medal is likely to come at the Asaka Shooting Range where the women’s 10m air rifle final gets going at 10.45am local time. 

Next up should be the men’s cycling road race which sets off at 11am with a gold medal waiting at the finish line. 

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games medals on display
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games medals on display

Which day will feature the most gold medals?

On August 7, the penultimate day of the Games, 34 gold medals will be contested — making it the busiest day for climbing to the top of the podium.  

When will the last gold medal be won?

The Games is expected to conclude with the men’s water polo final on August 8, with the swim-off scheduled for 4.30pm local time. 

Who is Great Britain’s biggest medal prospect?

Dina Asher-Smith will be chasing gold in the 100m and 200m in Tokyo
Dina Asher-Smith will be chasing gold in the 100m and 200m in Tokyo

For raw pace and sheer excitement, keep an eye out for sprinter Dina Asher-Smith. 

She won 100m silver and 200m gold at the 2019 World Athletics Championships, but will face tough competition from Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. 

A double Olympic champion over the shorter distance, Fraser-Pryce ran the second fastest time ever over 100m in June, clocking 10.63 seconds in Kingston. 

The women’s 100m final takes place on Saturday, July 31 and the 200m final is on Tuesday, August 3.

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22:17 (+00:00)16 Sep 2021 (Thu)