Everything you need to know about Olympic Athletics at Tokyo 2020 

Noah Lyles of the United States celebrates gold in the Men's 4x100m Relay during the 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Noah Lyles of the United States celebrates gold in the Men's 4x100m Relay during the 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Don't miss one of the most anticipated events in the Olympic program. Find out all about who the key athletes to watch will be in 2021, when and where will Olympic athletes will be performing, and more. 

Athletics has been one of the most-watched Olympic sports.

There will be no Usain Bolt for the first time in five Olympics, but the sprints are certain to the biggest draw.

The track and field competition will be spread over 16 sessions at Tokyo's Olympic Stadium, while the marathons and race walks will be held in Sapporo, on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

Below, we take a look at the athletes expected to light up the Olympic Stadium and the competition schedule, in our Olympic Athletics guide.

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Top Olympic athletes at Tokyo 2020

For the first time since Athens 2004, there will be no Usain Bolt in the 100m and 200m start lists at the Olympics.

The Jamaican, regarded as one of the greatest sprinters of all time, set an unbeaten record winning gold at three consecutive Olympics – Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016.

In the absence of the track legend, there is still a stellar field of world’s fastest men looking to step in his spikes.

With world champion Christian Coleman banned, American Noah Lyles, the reigning 200m world champion, is one of the favourites to win the men’s shortest dash.

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He has the speed, the personality and the charm to be the next big sprinter in athletics history, and he is trying to be great, not just good. Tokyo is the beginning of something special.

Lyle's compatriot Justin Gatlin is set for his Olympic swan song at his fifth Games.

Like Bolt, Gatlin, a five-time Olympic medallist ,launched his sprinting career in 2001, and they had raced each other since Athens 2004.

The return of South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk after a long injury lay-off following his 400m gold at Rio 2016 should also light up the track.

Another top attraction will be the 400m hurdles where on-form Karsten Warholm will be eyeing the Olympic title after the season of his life .He ran the second quickest time in history of 46.87 seconds.

The women’s sprints should also boast a top-notch field featuring Jamaica’s double Olympic champions Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah, as well as Bahamas track superstar Shaunae Miller-Uibo.

Miller-Uibo will be eyeing the 200m crown alongside her 400m Olympic title defence.

East African runners are likely to dominate the middle- and long-distance races.

The emergence of double distance world record holder Joshua Cheptegei should spice up the two longest track events.

The Ugandan hopes to be the man to return the 5,000m and 10,000m Olympic titles back to the region after Mo Farah ended the reign of Ethiopian and Kenyan runners over the distances.

Britain’s Farah, who achieved the double-double at London 2012 and Rio 2016, intends to defend his 10,000m crown.

Ethiopian-born Dutch runner Sifan Hasan and Rio 1,500m gold medallist Faith Kipyegon both had consistent last few seasons, and are ready to challenge for Olympic titles.

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Eliud Kipchoge, the Olympic champion who is also the fastest marathoner of all time, has trained his eyes on matching the feat of Abebe Bikila (1960 and 1964) and Waldemar Cierpinski, winner in 1976 and 1980.

Bikila and Cierpinski are the only men who have won the Olympic Marathon twice.

Kipchoge's compatriot, Brigid Kosgei, the women's record holder who won the 2020 London Marathon, is the hottest of the favourites for the women’s marathon title in her first Olympics.

In the field events, the 2020 World Athletes of the Year Armand ‘Mondo’ Duplantis and Yulimar Rojas have been in dazzling form and have their eyes set on their first Olympic gold medals.

Olympic Athletics schedule at Tokyo 2020

Athletics competition runs from 30 July-8 August 2021, covering two Golden Sunday: the 1 August will include the men's 100m final, while the 8 August is the day for men's marathon.

Also, athletics will be running during two Super Saturday: on Saturday 31 July, the women's 100m final will take place, whereas on the 7 August the medals will have new owners in several events, such as women's marathon or men's 50km race walk.

Check here the complete schedule and all times are in Japan Standard Time (JST).

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Olympic Athletics competition format at Tokyo 2020

The discipline and events for the 10-day athletics programme and composition remains unchanged apart from the introduction of the inaugural mixed 4x400m relay - scheduled for 31 July.

The men’s steeplechase qualifying rounds on 30 July will kick off the athletics programme, while the men’s marathon on the final day of the Games 8 August, will conclude the competition.

And for the first time the women’s and men’s marathon victory ceremonies will both be held during the Games Closing Ceremony.

Olympic Athletics venue at Tokyo 2020

Olympic Stadium

The new Olympic Stadium was opened in December 2019, replacing the Tokyo 1964 National Stadium.

It was redone to host the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the Tokyo 2020 Games, as well as athletics and football matches.

The stadium has a capacity of 68,000.

Check the venue details here.

Sapporo Odori Park

Sapporo Odori Park will host the marathon and race walking events.

The park is located in the centre of Sapporo City, and is approximately 1.5km long and covers an area of about 7.8 hectares.

Check the venue details here.

By the Olympic Channel.