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 23 July to Sunday 8 August 2021. 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 23 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 Wednesday 21 July, with softball and women's football kicking things off, with rowing and archery taking 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 24 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.

TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 01: Toshiki Sadakata #156 of Japan leads the chase group during the Tokyo Marathon on March 01, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.
TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 01: Toshiki Sadakata #156 of Japan leads the chase group during the Tokyo Marathon on March 01, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.
Clive Rose/Getty Images

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 2021. 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 25 July, with the first Olympic medals awarded in sport climbing and surfing too...

FUJISAWA, JAPAN - JANUARY 30: A local surfer is seen with Mount Fuji in the background from the beach of Enoshima during the build up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on January 30, 2020 in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. The venue will hold the sailing events.
FUJISAWA, JAPAN - JANUARY 30: A local surfer is seen with Mount Fuji in the background from the beach of Enoshima during the build up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on January 30, 2020 in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. The venue will hold the sailing events.
Clive Rose/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 Sunday 25 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 18 gold medals will be up for grabs on Saturday 31 July, and the world will stop to watch as the Women's 100m final takes place - one of the stand-out events of the Games.

Golden Sunday

If you thought Saturday was big, just wait until you see the line-up for Sunday 1 August. It's not called ‘Golden Sunday’ without good reason! The day will feature an astonishing 25 medal events including the men’s 100m final (more of that to follow), the men’s and women’s gymnastics finals and the men’s tennis singles final. They’ll also be the final day of fencing events and the closing day of swimming, with five finals scheduled.

'Super Saturday' - Episode Two

It's the type of day that sports fans dream of: Saturday 7 August will see finals in basketball, boxing, 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 1 August - Golden Sunday - 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 6 August for the women's 400m, and the men’s and women’s 4x100m relay finals, with both events taking place in the evening.

Sunday 8 August: 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.