images of Basketball

Olympic Sports


Fast breaks, precision passes and exciting baskets are all features of basketball, which never fails to entertain spectators at every edition of the Olympic Games

Tokyo 2020 competition animation “One Minute, One Sport”

We will show you the rules and highlights of basketball in one minute. Whether you are familiar with basketball or want to know more about it, "One Minute, One Sport" explains the sport and how it works. Watch the video below.


Basketball is played by two teams of five players on an indoor court that is 28 metres long and 15m wide. Points are scored by shooting the ball into a 'basket', which has a diameter of 450-459mm and sits on a backboard 3.05m above the floor.

Two points are awarded for a regular shot from open play; one point for each successful free throw (following an opposition infringement); and three points for a shot from distance, beyond what's known as the three-point line, 6.75m from the basket. Games last for 40 minutes and are split into four 10-minute quarters.

The sport was invented by Dr James Naismith, a Canadian physical education teacher who wanted to create a game that could be played indoors during the winter by his students at the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA.

The first game, which took place in December 1891, used peach baskets. From these humble beginnings, basketball has grown into one of the most exciting team sports in the world.

Men's basketball first appeared on the Olympic programme at the Berlin 1936 Games, with the women's competition introduced at Montreal 1976. Professional players first competed at Barcelona 1992, when the famous USA 'Dream Team' won gold in the men's event.

3x3 Basketball, contested by teams of three players each on a half-court with just one basket, has been added as a new discipline at the Tokyo 2020 Games. Exciting, urban and innovative, 3x3 is inspired by several forms of streetball played worldwide and is considered the world’s number one urban team sport. 3x3 was first played at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Singapore, and then at the 2014 edition in Nanjing, China. 3x3 Basketball is the first-ever new YOG discipline to be included in the Olympic program. With the 3x3 addition to the Olympic programme teams will be competing for a total of four basketball Olympic gold medals.

3x3 Basketball can be played indoors or outdoors. The winner is determined via a race to 21 points or whichever team has a higher score after 10 minutes. The three-point line in conventional basketball serves as the two-point line in 3x3 Basketball, with shots made outside the line earning two points and those inside it one (free throws also earn a single point if a foul is committed inside the arc).
International Federation: International Basketball Federation (FIBA)(Open in a new window)

Event Programme

  • 3x3 Basketball
    8-team tournament (Men/Women)
  • Basketball
    12-team tournament (Men/Women)


The ultimate in entertainment

In basketball, the ball is moved constantly up and down the court by passing or dribbling. The team in possession of the ball is the offence and the opposing team then not in possession is the defence. The defence tries to steal the ball, contest shots, deflect passes and gather rebounds to gain possession themselves. A limit on the time allowed to take a shot of 24 seconds contributes to the fast pace that is part of the sport's appeal.

3x3 basketball has been a basketball format played informally in streets and gyms across the world. Since 2010, the number of 3x3 Basketball events and competitions has been steadily growing with the first World Tour taking place in 2012 and most recently the introduction of the 3x3 Women's Series this year. Its inclusion in Tokyo 2020 reflects a desire for the Games to include more youthful and urban sports. It is a fast-paced, dynamic sport that requires skill, speed and quick decisions, and also is very entertaining.


Ending the American dream

The USA has won 15 of the 18 men's Olympic Basketball competitions in which it has participated and won eight of the ten women's competitions. This level of dominance shows no sign of diminishing with the men's USA comfortably beating Serbia in the gold medal game at Rio 2016.

European countries like Spain, Serbia and France are perennial contenders in both men's and women's competitions, while Australia's women's team have won a medal in five of the last six games.

Top-ranked men's teams in 3x3 Basketball include Serbia, the Russian Federation, China and Mongolia while the women's teams from the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation are prominent as well as Mongolia and Romania. However, international rankings in this format of the sport can change quickly, adding to the excitement surrounding its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.



How many points are scored if a player shoots from 'downtown'?


A: Three points. 'Downtown' is a popular term for the area outside the three-point line. It refers to how far away the player is from the basket and is sometimes used by broadcasters to describe any long-range shot.

As of 11 Nov. 2019

Competition Venues

  • Saitama Super Arena
  • Aomi Urban Sports Park

Olympic Sports

Paralympic Sports