Your guide to the best of Tokyo 2020

The Olympic rings in front of the iconic Rainbow Bridge and the Tokyo Tower in Odaiba Marine Park.
The Olympic rings in front of the iconic Rainbow Bridge and the Tokyo Tower in Odaiba Marine Park.

The countdown to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has begun, but when will the first medal be won? When is Super Saturday? Here's everything you need to know...

When will the Olympics be held?

The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 - the XXXII Olympiad - will take place between Friday 24 July to Sunday 9 August. Over the following 17 days, the most-watched sporting event on the planet will play host to 339 events spread across 33 sports; some for the very first time.

Friday 24 July: Opening Ceremony

After spectacular shows at London 2012 and Rio 2016, all eyes will be on the Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony to see if the bar can be lifted once more. Millions of people are expected to watch around the world, with the hotly-anticipated event starting at 8 p.m.

Let the Games begin!

Olympic action will begin two days before the Opening Ceremony on 22 July, with softball and women's football kicking things off, while rowing and archery take place on the day of the Opening Ceremony itself.

In a break from tradition and in an effort to beat the Tokyo heat, finals in many sports will take place during morning sessions. Swimming is one of these sports, so look out for heats in the evening with finals the corresponding morning.

When will the first gold medal be awarded?

The honour of receiving the first of 11 gold medals on the first full day of action (Saturday 25 July) will belong to one of the women's 10m air rifle athletes. Others will be awarded later in the day in archery, road cycling, fencing, judo, taekwondo and weightlifting.

The Cycling Road race will take place against the backdrop of Mount Fuji.
The Cycling Road race will take place against the backdrop of Mount Fuji.

Epic scenery

Watch out for the men's cycling road race on the first day as they twist and turn from Tokyo to Mount Fuji; the picturesque backdrop is expected to provide one of the most spectacular highlights of the Games.

Welcome back!

Baseball and softball return to the Olympic Games in Tokyo having been dropped after Beijing 2008.

The host nation will be among the favourites in both, but Team USA had won all three previous softball gold medals (starting with the first in Atlanta in 1996) and took a remarkable 22-game winning streak into the 2008 final where they were beaten by Japan - who claimed their first gold.

Will a rematch be on the cards?

Karate comes home

The home of karate will host the first Olympic competition in 2020. Japan was the top nation in 2018's World Championship in Madrid, and much will be expected of their athletes on home soil.

Take a bow!

Karate isn't the only sport making its debut in Tokyo. The first-ever Olympic skateboarding medals will be awarded to the best men's street skaters on Sunday 26 July, with the first Olympic medals awarded in sport climbing and surfing too...

Japan's Shun Murakami at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach for the Ready Steady Tokyo test event.
Japan's Shun Murakami at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach for the Ready Steady Tokyo test event.
(Photo by Matt Roberts/ 2019 Getty Images)

Surf's up!

Surfing's hotly-anticipated Olympic debut will see the world's top wave riders hit the picturesque Tsurigasaki Beach on the first of four days of competition from Wednesday 29 July (waves permitting). The qualification alone is huge - 40 athletes (20 men and 20 women) will make it to the Games, with the top two surfers in each heat (of either three of four athletes) going through to the next round.

'Super Saturday' - Episode One
No fewer than 21 gold medals will be up for grabs on Saturday 1 August, and the world will stop to watch as the Women's 100m final takes place - one of the stand-out events of the Games.

'Super Saturday' - Episode Two

It's the type of day that sports fans dream of: Saturday 8 August will see finals in basketball, football, freestyle super-heavyweight wrestling and beach volleyball, plus the climax of the modern pentathlon, women's golf, team equestrian jumping, women's water polo and kumite karate - as well as the rhythmic gymnastics individual all-round final. Phew!

Who will wear Usain Bolt's crown?

The great man has gone, but after three successive golds at 100m and 200m, Usain Bolt's retirement heralds a new era and contestants are on their marks. The evening session on Sunday 2 August will give us a new 100m champion for the first time since Athens 2004.

Hold the front page

A-listers and headline hitters will hit the track on Friday 7 August for the women's and men's 400m and 4 x 100m relay finals, with both events taking place in the evening.

Closing Ceremony

The Closing Ceremony, which starts at 8 p.m. in Tokyo, will bring the curtain down on the XXXII Olympiad with the baton being passed to Paris who will take the honour in 2024; however there's plenty of action before then.

Keeping up with tradition, the men's marathon will be held on the final day of the Games - starting at 7 a.m. in Sapporo to avoid the heat - with the top three receiving their medals during the Closing Ceremony.