Tokyo Olympics 2021:Olympic Sports Highlights

Basketball

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Overview

Basketball is played by two teams of five players on a 28mx15m court with players looking to score by shooting the ball into a basket. A successful shot from outside the three-point line is awarded three points, a successful shot from inside the three-point line is two points and a successful free throw following a foul is one point. A highlight of the sport is the famous dunk which is made at the end of a fast-paced offensive plays. Basketball is played over four 10-minute periods.

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. However, it wasn’t until 1892 that the sport was named ‘basketball’. There are 213 countries and regions affiliated with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) today, with an estimated 450 million players worldwide.

Basketball was first featured in the Olympic Games in St. Louis in 1904 as a demonstration sport, but it wasn’t until Berlin 1936 that men’s basketball appeared on the Olympic program. Meanwhile, the women’s game made its Olympic debut almost 40 years later in Montreal 1976. Professional players have been allowed to participate in the Olympics since Barcelona 1992 when the USA ‘Dream Team’ won gold. Since then, NBA players have continued to feature on their national teams, attracting attention with their outstanding skills. In both tournaments, a new competition system has been put in place for Tokyo. The Group Phase will consist of three groups of four teams each. The teams placed first and second in each group, and the two best third-placed teams in the Group Phase qualify for the Final Phase.

The essence of the Sport

All five players switch between offense and defense, and the pace is extremely fast. Players run up and down the court, trying to outdo each other, stealing the ball, and ducking the defense to take a shot. The sport is characterized by non-stop action with intense contact.

Sports are making our life excite. You can enjoy the day with playing some sports such as cricket, basketball, golf, and other outdoor games. There are two types of sports games : first is indoor games and another is outdoor games. Indoor games are making us happy with some lite exercise of our body. Outdoor games need full body stretchy. Out of that Basketball described below here.

Basketball has successfully developed as a professional sport as well as a popular form of entertainment. Fans won’t be able to take their eyes off the fast and dynamic action. Rules have been developed over the years to promote more offense and to maintain a fast-paced and thrilling game. Time limits are also imposed on various plays: the offensive team must take a shot within 24 seconds from when they gain possession; players must not remain in the restricted area under the goal for more than three seconds, and the offensive team must progress the ball past halfway within ten seconds after gaining possession of the ball.

One of the most exciting positions is the point guard, who orchestrates the team offense. A point guard must have good court vision and set up the game by leading the team in assists while managing both the offensive and defensive plays. It is also interesting to focus on the different playing styles: the USA’s style is characterized by outstanding individual skills, while European teams tend to emphasize team play and strategy.

Three-pointers have become a more regular occurrence in recent years and even the center, who is normally the tallest player on the team and traditionally plays close to the basket, has become adept at shooting from behind the three-point line. However, players in the modern game — no matter which position they play — are required to have diverse skills. Some teams favor teamwork and will work to pass the ball around as they use faints to try to bypass the defense and take a shot.

Outlook for the Tokyo 2020 Games

Since the USA formed the ‘Dream Team’ and impressed at Barcelona 1992, both the men’s and women’s teams have continued to dominate the game. Apart from the men’s bronze medal finish at the Athens 2004 Games, the USA has won Olympic gold medals in both men’s and women’s competitions since Atlanta 1996.

Damian Lillard is one of the players to watch on the USA men’s team. Lillard, who posted the third-highest per game scoring average in the league (28.8) this season, was selected to his fourth All-NBA Second Team, as well as his sixth All-Star team. But watch out for Australia, whose side features many NBA players and recently beat the USA at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, as well as Spain, Argentina, and France who won gold, silver, and bronze respectively at the World Cup.

The USA will be going for the seventh consecutive Olympic gold in the women’s competition, and the team has been playing consistently well. The core players are veteran Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird who will be looking to make their fourth Olympic Games appearance. Other medal contenders include Australia, who have won five Olympic medals, and Spain, who have highly skilled players and were silver medallists at Rio 2016.

3×3 Basketball

USA Basketball's 3x3 World Championship Teams Finish Day One 4-0

Overview

3×3 basketball is an exciting and innovative sport. It developed from street basketball and is considered to be the world’s No. 1 urban team sport. In 2007, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) formally adopted universal rules for 3×3 basketball ahead of its debut at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Singapore.

Since 2012, FIBA has organized the FIBA 3×3 World Cup which is contested among nations while the FIBA 3×3 World Tour is club-based. In 2017, 3×3 was selected as an official Olympic sport for the Tokyo 2020 Games and is the first-ever new YOG discipline to be included in the Olympic program. As a result, in just seven years the sport has gone from the streets to the Olympic Games. Some 182 countries and regions participate in world competitions, and the number of players practicing the sport exceeds 430,000.

3×3 basketball is played on half a regular five-a-side basketball court, with each team shooting into a single hoop. Teams consist of four players, three players on the court, and one substitute. A coin toss is held to determine which team will start the game on offense. The three-point line in conventional basketball serves as the two-point line in 3×3 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). The winner is the team with the highest score at the end of the 10-minute period, or the first team to reach 21 points. If the score is tied after 10 minutes, the game goes into overtime with the first team to score two points declared the winner.

Acrobatic Gymnastics

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History

Acrobatic gymnastics has existed in various forms and throughout different cultures for thousands of years. Depictions of acrobatics have been discovered in Bronze Age art, along with being mentioned in Homer’s epics and included in Ancient Greek symposiums and China’s Han Dynasty harvest festivals. It also served as entertainment for European courts during the Middle Ages.

Becoming a Discipline

Acrobatic gymnastics began to develop as a discipline through the use of apparatus and through tumbling. Both aspects showcased the human body’s capabilities. The first competition rules for acrobatics were formed in the Soviet Union, where stadiums filled with spectators hoping to witness athletic feats, like forming giant human pyramids. The inaugural Soviet national championships were held in 1939.

Global Evolution

The first international tournament for what was then named “Sports Acrobatics” was held in Warsaw in 1957, with four participating teams. The International Federation of Sports Acrobatics (IFSA) was established in 1973, with the first world championships held the following year in Moscow, featuring teams from Bulgaria, the Federal Republic of Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Poland, the Soviet Union, and the United States. In 1998, the discipline was adopted by the International Gymnastics Federation once IFSA dissolved. The discipline has been known as Acrobatic Gymnastics since 2007.

Alpine Skiing

Olympic skiing: a sport of speed and calories

Skiing has an ancient history. The birth of modern downhill skiing is often dated to the 1850s when Norwegian legend Sondre Norheim popularised skis with curved sides, bindings with stiff heel bands made of willow, as well as the Telemark and Christiania (slalom) turns.

Ancient Origins

Skiing can be traced to prehistoric times by the discovery of varying sizes and shapes of wooden planks preserved in peat bogs in Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Norway. Ski fragments discovered in Russia have been carbon-dated back to circa 8000-7000 BC. It is virtually certain that a form of skiing has been an integral part of life in colder countries for thousands of years.

First Competitions

Skiing changed from a method of transportation into a sporting activity during the late 19th century. The first non-military skiing competitions are reported to have been held in the 1840s in northern and central Norway. The first national skiing competition in Norway, held in the capital Christiania (now Oslo) and won by Sondre Norheim, in 1868, is regarded as the beginning of a new era of skiing enthusiasm. A few decades later, the sport spread to the remainder of Europe and to the U.S., where miners held skiing competitions to entertain themselves during the winter. The first slalom competition was organized by Sir Arnold Lunn in 1922 in Mürren, Switzerland.

Archery

Archers Atanu Das, Deepika Kumari to resume Olympic preparation at national camp

Overview

Archery dates back over 10,000 years when bows and arrows were first used for hunting and warfare before it developed as a competitive activity in medieval England. There are several variants, including target archery, where competitors shoot at stationary targets on a flat range; and field archery, which involves shooting at targets of varying and often unmarked distance, typically in woodland and rough terrain. Only target archery is an Olympic sport, practiced in more than 140 countries around the world.

Archery made its Olympic debut in Paris in 1900 and also featured in 1908 and 1920. But the rules were inconsistent and entirely dependent on the host country, making it difficult for the athletes. After a 52-year gap, the modernized sport was reintroduced in Munich in 1972 and has remained on the Olympic program ever since. At Tokyo 2020, athletes will compete in men’s and women’s individual events, men’s and women’s team events, and a mixed team event. The mixed team event is a new addition to the Olympic program.

The essence of the sport

The archery competition starts with a ranking round on the day of the Opening Ceremony. All 64 men and 64 women shoot 72 arrows and are then ranked from first to 64th based on their total scores. They then compete in pairs based on their rankings, with the first-ranked archer facing off against the 64th-ranked archer, the second-ranked against the 63rd-ranked, and so on.

These individual elimination matches see the loser leave the competition and the winner advance to the next phase until two athletes remain to contest the gold-medal match. The two semi-final losers compete for bronze. Individual matches are decided using a set system. Each set consists of three arrows. The athlete with the highest score in the set — the total of their three arrows — receives two set points. If the athletes are tied, each receives one set point. The first athlete to six set points wins the match.

If there is a tie after five sets (with a scoreline of 5-5), each athlete shoots a single arrow. The athlete whose arrow lands closest to the middle of the target wins the match — unless both athletes shoot a 10, whereby a second arrow is shot. Team and mixed team matches are also decided using the set system, but each team set consists of six arrows and each mixed team set consists of four arrows rather than three. The first team or mixed team to five set points wins the match.

If there is a tie after four sets (with a scoreline of 4-4), each athlete in each team shoots a single arrow, alternately. The team or mixed team that has the highest score wins the match. If the team or mixed team is still tied, then the team or mixed team whose arrow is closest to the middle wins the match. These formats create a series of win-or-lose situations, which are as much mental as physical. Before releasing each arrow, archers must calm their heart rate, increase their concentration and overcome their nerves. The physical and emotional tension inspires some archers to perform at their best while others struggle in the face of unforgiving pressure.

Outlook for the Tokyo 2020 Games

The Republic of Korea is the dominant force in Olympic archery. Its athletes won gold in all four events staged at Rio 2016 while its women’s team has, remarkably, never been beaten in Olympic competition since the event was introduced in Seoul 1988.

Among its leading athletes is world No. 1 Kang Chae Young and Kim Woojin, who won the world championships twice but was famously eliminated in the second round at Rio 2016 after setting a world record for the ranking round. In men’s archery, the USA is the next best-performing country after the Republic of Korea. Brady Ellison won the bronze medal in the men’s individual event at Rio 2016 and team silver at both Rio 2016 and London 2012.

Boxing

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Overview

Two athletes square up to each other in a ring, and victory is gained by the athlete who more successfully lands blow to their opponent’s head and torso. This is a simple summary of a sport that featured at the ancient Olympic Games in the 7th century BC when opponents fought with strips of leather wrapped around their fists.

At that time, boxing matches would continue ‘until the opponent concedes or loses consciousness’ and at various times the sport was banned for being excessively brutal. In Great Britain during the 19th century, boxing was formalized with rules that included the wearing of gloves. Since then, boxers have become renowned for their sporting demeanor, with opponents showing immense respect for each other’s courage and physical commitment.

Boxing has featured at all modern Olympic Games since St. Louis 1904, with the exception of Stockholm 1912. Women’s events were a popular addition to the program at London 2012. At Tokyo 2020, women will compete for gold in five weight divisions, from fly (51kg) to middle (75kg), and men in eight divisions, from fly (51kg) to super heavy (91+ kg).

The sport is hugely popular worldwide and many boxers who competed at the Olympic Games have gone on to gain global fame — none more so than the late Muhammad Ali (United States). Ali won gold in the light-heavyweight division at the Rome 1960 Games under the name Cassius Clay and became one of the most recognized and respected men on the planet. Until Rio 2016, only amateurs were permitted to participate in the Olympic Games. This restriction is now no longer the case.

The essence of the Sport

An Olympic Boxing match for both men and women lasts three rounds, each of three minutes. Five judges sit at the side of the ring. They watch the bout and individually award points for what they deem to be successful hits.

In addition, the referee can end a match if the difference between the fighters is such that the match should not continue or if a doctor indicates the match should be stopped.

A match can also end if a competitor receives three warnings (penalties) and is disqualified or if a competitor is unable to resume a fight within ten seconds, in which case they have been considered knocked out (‘KO’).

Although the aim and rules of boxing are simple, the fighting styles of its competitors are wide-ranging and distinctive. This is what makes boxing such a fascinating and exciting sport to watch.

A heavy-hitting boxer seeking to pile on heavy punches may be matched against an opponent with a sound defense who will wait for their rival to tire before striking decisively. Some will want to fight at close-quarters, others from distance. All athletes must take care to pace themselves, and some will demonstrate superb footwork to move around the ring and hit hard if their opponent’s defenses fall.

Outlook for the Tokyo 2020 Games

The Rio 2016 Boxing program comprised ten men’s and three women’s weight divisions. At Tokyo 2020, greater gender equality will be achieved with a program of eight men’s and five women’s divisions. The most consistently successful countries in boxing have been the United States and Cuba. Between them, they have won approximately one-third of all gold medals and many of their fighters have gone on to great achievements in the professional arena.

For a comparatively small nation, Cuba’s record at the Games is remarkable. In Moscow 1980, Teofilo Stevenson made Olympic history by becoming the first boxer to earn the gold medal in the same division three times. Cuban boxers then went on to win no fewer than 19 gold medals at the four Games between Barcelona 1992 and Athens 2004.

Medallists in women’s boxing have so far all come from Europe and the United States. However, women’s boxing is still developing around the world and other nations which reached the podium in London 2012 and Rio 2016, including the People’s Republic of China, India, and Kazakhstan, will be seeking gold in Tokyo. An additional element of uncertainty is the possibility of wider participation by professional boxers in the Tokyo program. This could be further significant development in a sport that is constantly evolving.

Football

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Overview

In football, teams of 11 players compete to score goals by advancing the ball into their opponent’s goal. Since all that’s needed to play is a ball, the sport is enjoyed worldwide on every continent. Football is played by over 250 million people in more than 200 countries and regions. The Laws of the Game were drawn up in London in 1863 at a meeting of the newly founded Football Association. The FIFA World Cup, which has been held every four years since 1930, is a major event that attracts high television ratings worldwide.

Men’s Olympic Football actually has a longer history than the FIFA World Cup: it has been played at every Games since Paris 1900, with the sole exception of Los Angeles 1932. Until Los Angeles 1984, participation was restricted to amateur players. Now, the Games serve as a global showcase for young talent and the competition generates high levels of interest. The emphasis on young players is due to a rule, introduced at the Barcelona 1992 Games, that imposed a maximum age of 23. Since Atlanta 1996, teams have been allowed to include three over-age players.

The women’s competition was added at the Atlanta 1996 Games. There are no age restrictions. The inclusion of women’s football in the Games program has contributed greatly to its growing popularity and development around the world.

The essence of the Sport

The aim of football — to score more goals than the opposition — is simple and widely known. Teams compete across two 45-minute halves, with extra-time and penalty shootouts used to decide drawn matches during the knockout stages of the Olympic competition. In addition to host nation Japan, 15 men’s national teams will qualify through tournaments run by the six continental confederations. A total of 11 women’s national teams will join the host nation, again qualifying through the same route.

Both the men’s and women’s competitions consist of a round-robin group stage followed by a knockout stage. Teams are placed into groups of four, with each team playing each other once. Teams earn three points for a win, one point for a draw, and no points for a loss. The top two teams in each group (as well as the top two third-place finishers in the women’s tournament) advance to the knockout rounds consisting of quarter-finals, semi-finals then the gold and bronze medal matches. Since the Sydney 2000 Games, football has been unique among Olympic sports in that competition begins before the Opening Ceremony. This is to manage a demanding schedule and ensure players have sufficient recovery time between matches.

Players need speed, strength, and stamina, as well as excellent ball skills and the ability to play tactically as a team. The referee will be looking out for rule infringements. Fouls may result in a yellow card, with a second yellow card bringing a red card and instant dismissal. Players receive straight red cards for serious fouls, leaving the other team with an extra-player advantage. When a team commits an infringement, the opposition team is awarded a free-kick. If a player is fouled inside the penalty area, his or her team is awarded a penalty kick

Golf

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Overview

Golf consists of striking a ball into a series of holes using a selection of clubs and counting the number of strokes it takes to do so. An official sport at the Paris 1900 and St. Louis 1904 Games, golf then vanished from the program until it returned at Rio 2016. There are two main tournament formats: match play, in which two golfers compete against each other hole-by-hole; and stroke play, in which the total number of shots taken is counted. Stroke play is used at the Games, with athletes playing four rounds of 18 holes over four days, giving a total of 72 holes.

Each hole is assigned a predetermined number of strokes depending on its degree of difficulty and length from the tee to green — for example, three, four, or five. A player who succeeds in hitting the ball into the hole with that number of strokes is said to have achieved par. Doing so with one stroke less is called a birdie while doing so with two strokes less is known as an eagle.

By contrast, using one stroke more than par is known as a bogey and two strokes over par is a double bogey. It’s typical for an 18-hole golf course to have a par of 72. A player who finishes with 71 strokes on a 72-par course is said to be ‘one under’, while a player who finishes the same course with 74 strokes is said to be ‘two over’.

The essence of the Sport

Golf is often described as a deeply complex sport due to the unique natural features of every course and the constantly variable climatic conditions. Rough ground, water features, slopes, and bunkers (concave areas filled with sand) give courses very distinct personalities and challenges. In addition, rain, sun, and wind can all affect how a course performs, with players needing to adapt constantly to changes in the weather.

Players carry up to 14 clubs with them, including drivers capable of hitting the ball great distances, irons that emphasize accuracy, and putters used on the smooth-running greens to hole a shot. Players must apply all their judgment and experience to determine which club and which type of stroke to use. Golf is also a sport in which mental strength has a significant impact on the outcome: players must be able to deal successfully with highly pressurized situations. One of golf’s most attractive features is the absence of judges. This reflects the importance that golf assigns to fair play and its belief that all players act in the spirit of good faith and would never intentionally engage in dishonest behavior. In this respect, golfers are considered true and worthy Olympians.

Karate

Karate at the Olympics: Scoring, competitions and all you need to know

Overview

Karate is a martial art that originated in Okinawa during the Ryukyu Dynasty period. It spread throughout Japan during the 1920s and then worldwide following World War II. It is predominantly a striking, kicking, and punching art. A karate practitioner is called a karateka.

Karate’s quest to secure a place on the Olympic program dates back to the 1970s. In 2015, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee proposed the inclusion of karate as one of five additional sports, a decision that was approved by the International Olympic Committee. Athletes will compete at the Nippon Budokan, the spiritual home of Japanese martial arts and a legacy venue from the Tokyo 1964 Games.

The essence of the sport

Broadly speaking, karate competition consists of kata (forms) and Kumite (sparring). Kata is a demonstration of forms consisting of a series of offensive and defensive movements targeting a virtual opponent. Competitors choose the kata they will demonstrate from 102 that are recognized by the World Karate Federation. A point-based system was adopted in January 2019 whereby the scores awarded by three of the seven judges are added then applied to a separate calculation formula to determine the winner.

Key factors include the strength, speed, rhythm, balance, and power of strikes and kicks; the solidity, clarity, and force of movements; and the proper expression of the meaning of each technique with beautiful, flowing motion.

In Kumite, two karatekas face each other in a matted competition area measuring 8m x 8m. Athletes must land a series of blows on the target area of their opponent’s body with energy and precision. Attacks with good form, power, and control earn between one and three points. A competitor wins by amassing eight points more than their opponent within the duration of the bout or by gaining more points than their opponent in the allotted time (three minutes). In the event of a tie, the competitor who scored the first point is the winner. In the case of a scoreless bout, the winner will be declared by the decision of the judges.

Outlook for the Tokyo 2020 Games

The intense competition to make Olympic history

The World Karate Federation has more than 190 members spread across the world. At the 2016 World Championships, athletes from more than 20 countries earned medals.

The Tokyo 2020 Games will feature 80 athletes, with ten competing in each of eight events (two men’s and women’s kata events and three classes each for men’s and women’s Kumite events). Eligibility will be determined by international rankings in the years leading up to karate’s Olympic debut, with each country or region fielding only one competitor.

Shooting

China's Yang wins 1st gold of Tokyo Olympics in air rifle

Overview

In shooting, there are three disciplines; rifle and pistol where athletes shoot at stationary targets in a range, and shotgun which involves hitting moving targets. With the exception of St Louis 1904 and Amsterdam 1928 Games, shooting has featured on every Olympic program since the first modern Games in 1896. Women’s events were added to the schedule at Los Angeles in 1984.

In rifle and pistol, participants aim at a target with concentric circles, with those closest to the center earning more points. There are four gun types and three distances: 50m rifle, 10m air rifle, 25m rapid fire pistol, and 10m air pistol. There are also three shooting positions: kneeling, where the athlete goes down on one knee and rests the gun on the other knee; prone, where the athlete shoots while lying down; and standing. Some events include all these positions.

A shotgun is an art of shooting at a flying target known commonly as a clay target. There are two varieties: trap, where the targets are thrown a long distance from a single trap; and skeet, where targets are thrown from traps on the left and right. At Tokyo 2020, 10m air rifle, 10m air pistol, and clay trap will be included as men’s, women’s, and mixed events. While physical fitness is important, athletes require deep reserves of mental strength. Victory may hinge on a single shot.

Event Programme

  1. 50m Rifle 3 Positions (Men/Women)
  2. 10m Air Rifle (Men/Women)
  3. 25m Rapid Fire Pistol (Men)
  4. 25m Pistol (Women)
  5. 10m Air Pistol (Men/Women)
  6. Trap (Men/Women)
  7. Skeet (Men/Women)
  8. 10m Air Rifle Mixed Team
  9. 10m Air Pistol Mixed Team
  10. Trap Mixed Team

The essence of the sport

Despite the small targets, shooting has considerable spectator appeal. The tension prior to firing, the exhilaration of a successful shot and the dramatic changes in ranking caused by even the slightest inaccuracy all make for a compelling experience.

In 50m rifle 3 Positions events, 40 shots are taken from each of the kneeling, prone, and standing positions. These events have a time limit of 2 hours 45 minutes for the main competition which decides the eight finalists, who then compete for medals over one hour. It is a supremely rigorous challenge and competitors are said to lose up to two kilograms in weight by the end.

The 25m rapid fire pistol is an event involving successive rapid-fire in the standing position over short periods of eight, six, and four seconds. No automatic function is used, and all shots require the trigger to be pulled manually. The 25m pistols are an event for women only in which the target is aimed at with one hand from the standing position. The event comprises 60 shots, split evenly between rounds of precision shooting and rapid shooting. This is a test of athletes’ ability in both formats.

Clay shooting requires instant judgment and sharp reflexes. The trap is about hitting randomly released clays while moving between five shooting stations arranged in a line. Participants take two shots at each target. Skeet sees competitors aiming at clays in a range of directions using a total of eight shooting stages. A total of 25 targets are released and, unlike trap, there’s one shot per target. The shape of the range and wind direction are among the factors for athletes to consider.

Outlook for the Tokyo 2020 Games

Shooting is a global sport with athletes from around 100 countries typically participating in the Games. The biggest medal winner overall is the USA with China and the Republic of Korea performing strongly. In London 2012, the Republic of Korea gained three gold and two silver medals while the USA also topped the podium on three occasions.

Italy achieved notable success in Rio 2016. As well as two golds in the men’s 10m air rifle and 50m rifle 3 Positions achieved by Niccolò Campriani, Italian shooters also won gold and three silver medals in men’s and women’s skeet. Other recent prominent athletes have included Christian Reitz (Germany), who won gold in a rapid-fire pistol at Rio 2016, and Gabriele Rossetti (Italy), who won gold in men’s skeet. With mixed events included in the Tokyo 2020 program, new stars may well emerge.

Swimming

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Overview

Swimmers compete to achieve the fastest time while covering a designated distance using a predetermined stroke (freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, or butterfly). Although no specific stroke is prescribed for freestyle events, all swimmers currently use the crawl, which is the fastest stroke. At Rio 2016, 32 men’s and women’s events were held in the pool, including individual and relay races. At Tokyo 2020, there will be 35 events, with the addition of three new competitions: 800m freestyle (men), 1,500m freestyle (women), and 4×100m medley relay (mixed).

The essence of the sport

The world’s top male freestyle swimmers can swim 50m in about 21 seconds, generating extraordinary speed and power. In backstroke, swimmers lie on their backs and use their arms to slide across the water’s surface. In butterfly, the swimmers’ arms move symmetrically, accompanied by a coordinated leg kick, evoking a flying butterfly. In breaststroke, the only stroke in which swimmers move their hands forward through the water after making a stroke, the key is to produce maximum thrust and minimum drag.

Olympic athletes must hone every detail of their technique, including the diving start, the timing of kicks and turns, and the angles through which they move their arms. Elite swimmers must also pay attention to pacing as a tactic. For example, a swimmer might advance to the final round by swimming quickly during the first half of a preliminary race to establish a dominant time. In the final, that same swimmer might hold back during the first half so that he or she can put in a burst of speed later. Such tactics are an essential part of the sport’s appeal.

In individual medley events, a single swimmer competes using all four strokes in the following order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle. Since each swimmer has particular strokes in which he or she excels, swimmers’ relative positions on the leaderboard sometimes change as the stroke changes. These races are thrilling and fun to watch. Medley relays differ from individual medleys in that the following stroke order is used: backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle. Teams usually include the top-performing athlete for each stroke, creating all-star match-ups. In the 4×100m medley relay (mixed) — a new event — teams consisting of two men and two women can choose who swims each stroke. Men and women may swim against each other at the same time, adding to the excitement.

In team relay events, it’s important to shorten the changeover time — the time from one swimmer touching the wall to the next swimmer’s legs leaving the starting platform. A poorly executed changeover can cause a team to lose their position in the race, or even to be disqualified if the outgoing swimmer sets off too early.

Outlook for the Tokyo 2020 Games

The constant evolution of technique is leading to ever greater levels of performance. Seven world records were set during the finals at London 2012 and Rio 2016. The 100m breaststroke typifies this trend. In Beijing 2008, Kosuke Kitajima (Japan) became the first person in the world to swim faster than 58 seconds. Kitajima’s technique included a streamlined body position to minimize water resistance, lowering the position of his head after each breath for greater efficiency and a reduced number of strokes. This became the dominant style worldwide.

However, in Rio 2016, Adam Peaty (Great Britain) brought major change by achieving extraordinary speed through dynamic, fast-paced swimming that combined a large number of strokes with a powerful kicking movement. Peaty set a world record time of 57:13 and won the gold medal. New techniques in freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly are also emerging with each Olympic Games and driving ever faster times.

Recent years have seen more swimmers competing in multiple events. Katinka Hosszú (Hungary), for example, excels at the individual medley. At the same time, single-event specialists such as Peaty remain. This increasing division of the sport into multi-event swimmers and specialists promises to bring further innovation in the coming years.

Tennis

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Overview

Every four years, the Olympic Tennis tournament attracts the world’s top stars. Recent gold medallists have included such legends of the sport as Rafael Nadal (men’s singles, Beijing 2008), Andy Murray (men’s singles, London 2012 and Rio 2016), and Venus and Serena Williams. Between them, the Williams sisters have won a total of eight Olympic gold medals. Tennis appeared at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 but was dropped from the program after the Paris 1924 Games. It returned 64 years later, with Miloslav Mečíř (Czechoslovakia) and Steffi Graf (West Germany) winning gold in the two singles tournaments in Seoul in 1988.

At Tokyo 2020, the tournament will follow a knockout format with men’s and women’s singles and doubles competitions and a mixed doubles event that was first contested in London 2012. Matches will be played on hard courts, which is the usual surface for the Olympic tournament. London 2012 was unusual for being played on the grass courts of Wimbledon. In the singles events, 56 athletes will qualify based on their world ranking and as a rule, must have represented their country in recent national team-level competitions. In addition, each country may only send six players (singles competition: 4 players) to the Games.

The essence of the Sport

A coin toss before the match determines which player will serve and which will receive. Scoring counts zero points as ‘love’, one point as ‘15’, two points as ‘30’, and three points as ‘40’. If a player scores four points first, he or she wins that game. However, if both players have scored three points, the score is said to be ‘deuce’ and the game continues until there is a difference of two points between the players.

The first player to win six games with a two-game advantage over their opponent wins the set. But if the game score is tied at five-all, there are two possible ways the set can end. Either a player wins seven games with a two-game advantage, or the game score is tied at six-all and a tie-break decides the winner (one player must win seven points with a two-point advantage). The key to success is to win all of the games you serve and then to win as many as possible of the games your opponent serves. In a close-fought match, winning even a single break point brings a significant advantage.

As well as having a wide range of techniques and shots, successful players need a strong mental approach. Some are able to turn their fortunes around from a losing position, others perform at a lower level when pressure and errors prevent them from playing the game on their own terms.

Outlook for the Tokyo 2020 Games

Big names and rising stars

Tennis players usually compete as individuals, except in the annual team-based Davis Cup (men) and Fed Cup (women) competition. Every four years, the Olympic Games offer a unique opportunity for players to win individual medals while being part of their national team. This helps to explain why so many of the sport’s leading players will want to be on the court at Tokyo 2020

As well as the thrill of watching the big names, the Olympic tournament also offers spectators the chance to witness history in the making. At Rio 2016, Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig caused a major upset when she won the singles gold medal, beating the favorite, Germany’s Angelique Kerber. In doing so, Puig claimed her country’s first-ever Olympic title and became only the second unseeded player to win a medal at the Games.

The doubles competitions often throw up some unexpected pairings. At Rio 2016, the legendary Rafael Nadal teamed up with doubles specialist Marc López to win gold for Spain in the men’s doubles. And even the great Venus Williams was unable to inspire her partner Rajeev Ram to victory in all-American mixed doubles final against specialists Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jack Sock. Surprises such as these help to make the Olympic tennis tournament utterly compelling.

Volleyball

News detail - Tokyo 2020 match schedule confirmed

Overview

Volleyball is played by two teams on an 18m x 9m court divided by a net (2.43m high for men, 2.24m for women). Each team at the Olympic Games is allowed up to 12 players, but only 6 play on the court. The game starts with a serve that sends the ball over the net to the opponent’s side. Teams are allowed to touch the ball three times before it must cross over the net into the opponent’s court.

Teams try to send the ball over the net in order to ground it on the opponent’s court, while also trying to prevent their opponent from doing the same. Rallies are a regular feature of the match and continue until the ball lands on the court or are hit out of bounds, in which case that team loses the point. Players require amazing power and reactions, with the ball able to reach speeds in excess of 130km/h.

This is in sharp contrast to when the sport was first introduced as ‘mignonette by William G Morgan for older members of his YMCA gym in Massachusetts, the USA in 1895. Eventually, the sport spread globally when the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) was established in 1947. The first men’s World Championship took place the following year, while the first World Championship for women was held in 1952.

Volleyball for both men and women became an official Olympic sport at the Olympic Games Tokyo 1964. At Tokyo 2020, teams are divided into two pools of six teams with each pool playing a round-robin. The top four teams of each pool advance to the quarterfinals and the final round is played under a knock-out system.

The essence of the sport

Speed, height, and power are the highlights of the game

Volleyball matches are played to the best of five sets. Each set is played to 25 points with a team needing a two-point advantage to win the set. When a team wins a point they serve next. The first team to three sets wins the match but when the match is tied at two sets each, the final set is played to 15 points.

Teams employ three players at the net and three at the back of the court. If a player is in the backcourt, they are not allowed to move to the net to block or spike. The player in the specialist ‘libero’ position performs an exclusively defensive role and can replace any of the back players. They are easily spotted since they must wear a different-colored uniform. Each time the team wins back the serve, players must rotate a position clockwise and this rotation system is a major factor in a team’s strategy.

Highlights of the game include the powerful spikes and blocks performed by players at the net. There is also an exchange of tactics at the net, and each team has a unique strategy based on their players’ skills and playing style. In recent times, offensive action has become faster while team tactics are starting to vary. Powerful jump serves to send the ball speeding over the net, while players who are more than 2m tall can reach heights of up to 3.5m when smashing the ball into the opposing team’s court. You may also see players diving full-length to retrieve a ball moments before it hits the floor.

Pay attention to the setter who orchestrates gameplay and communicates tactics to teammates. Getting the ball to the setter is key for teams to set up and execute attacks.

Outlook for the Tokyo 2020 Games

Brazil leads the way in the men’s game and the People’s Republic of China in the women’s, so both are favorites to defend their gold medals from Rio 2016. Brazil’s men’s team was undefeated throughout the 2019 FIVB World Cup, eventually being crowned champions. In addition to winning the championship, they had Alan Souza named as the most valuable player and two-time Olympian Lucas Saatkamp selected as the best middle blocker in the World Cup Dream Team.

Meanwhile, Poland’s Wilfredo Leon is another player to watch having been named the best outside spiker in the 2019 FIVB World Cup Dream Team. Leon previously won silver for Cuba at the 2010 world championships, before going on to represent Poland. The People’s Republic of China leads the women’s game as the back-to-back FIVB World Cup champions. Four of their players received individual awards, with star player Zhu Ting winning her second MVP award in a row.

Serbia is the current holder of the FIVB volleyball women’s world championship, with Tijana Boskovic named the tournament’s MVP in 2018. Italy has many up-and-coming players who are driving the team forward. Paola Egonu caught fans’ attention when she topped the scoring charts at the 2018 women’s world championship with an astonishing 324 points.

However, it is Russia (including the USSR) who have earned the most Olympic gold medals in volleyball — four each for both men and women. In an effort to counter European dominance, other countries have developed quick attacks and feints, adding to the complexity and excitement of the game.

The Olympic Games is a quadrennial international multi-sport event celebrated as a global sports festival by people all over the world. The Olympic Games are held in both the summer and winter, with the ultimate goal of cultivating people and world peace through sports. The Games of the XXIX Olympiad held in Beijing in 2008 saw athletes from 204 countries and regions participate. London hosted the 2012 Olympics, commemorating the 30th Olympic Games.

Main organizations

The Olympic Movement is advanced by various people and organizations. The National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and the International Federations (IFs) are also members of the Olympic Movement. The NOCs send their national delegations to the Olympic Games. The Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) is the NOC in Japan. The IFs are the international sports organizations that govern each specific sport, and they retain full authority over the operation of their respective competitions during the Games.

Additionally, the International Olympic Academy (IOA) and the National Olympic Academy (NOA) both take charge of educational and promotional activities founded on Olympism.

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