Every four years, Olympic artistic gymnastics competition captivates a global audience.
Can’t wait until the Tokyo 2020 Games begins in 2021? No worries – here’s who to watch for, an overview of the schedule and format, the Tokyo venue and a brief history of the sport at the Olympic Games.
Top Olympic artistic gymnasts at Tokyo 2020
Artistic gymnastics fans will be treated to something special in Tokyo 2020 as two of the sport’s greatest athletes ever are likely to compete in Simone Biles of the United States and Japan’s Uchimura Kohei.
Biles has dominated the sport since her senior international debut in 2013. Her seemingly endless list of records includes being the only woman to win five World all-around titles. She owns 30 World and Olympic medals, including 19 World title and four Olympic golds. Biles also has four elements named in her honour in gymnastics’ code of points.
The U.S. women remain heavy favourites for a third team gold medal in a row and competition to make the four-woman squad will be tough. Names to look out for include Suni Lee, Morgan Hurd, Riley McCusker, Grace McCallum, Leanne Wong, Kara Eaker and MyKayla Skinner. Jade Carey, who won medals at the 2017 and 2019 Worlds for Team USA, has already qualified to the Games as an individual.
Other women to watch include China’s Tang Xijing and Russia’s Angelina Melnikova, who finished second and third in the all-around, respectively, at the 2019 Worlds.
On the men’s side, Uchimura has indicated he will only compete on the horizontal bar at Tokyo 2020. That means he will not become the first man to win three-straight Olympic all-around titles.
Instead, look for Russia’s dynamic duo of Nikita Nagornyy and Artur Dalaloyan. The pair have dominated the men’s side of the sport since 2018 when Dalaloyan took the World all-around title. In 2019, Nagornny sailed to gold medals in the all-around at both the European and World Championships. The pair also helped Russia to its first World team gold medal in 2019.
China is likely to be Russia's greatest rival in Tokyo. To challenge, they'll need strong performances from 2017 World all-around champion Xiao Ruoteng and Sun Wei, who finished fifth in the all-around at the 2019 Worlds. Sun is the reigning Chinese all-around champion.
Japan's team hopes will lie with their strongest gymnast of the past two years: Kaya Kazuma. Kaya finished sixth in the all-around final in 2019 and won the recent All-Japan Championships ahead of rising star Kitazono Takeru. Kitazono won five gold medals at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.
Olympic artistic gymnastics schedule at Tokyo 2020
Artistic gymnastics competition runs from 24 July through to 3 Augusts at Tokyo 2020. Competition days alternate between men’s and women’s events, starting with the qualification rounds. The first medals are given out in the team finals, followed by the individual all-around event. There’s two days off before three days of apparatus finals conclude artistic gymnastics competition.
Below is the complete schedule and all times are in Japan Standard Time (JST).
Saturday, 24 July
- 10:00 - 12:30 - Men's qualification, subdivision 1
- 14:30 - 17:00 - Men's qualification, subdivision 2
- 19:30 - 22:00 - Men's qualification, subdivision 3
Sunday, 25 July
- 10:00 - 13:35 - Women's qualification, subdivision 1
- 15:10 - 18:45 - Women's qualification, subdivision 2
- 20:20 - 22:00 - Women's qualification, subdivision 3
Monday, 26 July
- 19:00 - 22:00 - Men's team final
Tuesday, 27 July
- 19:45 - 22:00 - Women's team final
Wednesday, 28 July
- 19:15 - 22:00 - Men's all-around final
Thursday, 29 July
- 19:50 - 22:00 - Women's all-around final
Sunday, 1 August
- 17:00 - 20:00 - Apparatus finals, day 1 (men's floor exercise and pommel horse; women's vault and uneven bars)
Monday, 2 August
- 17:00 - 19:15 - Apparatus finals, day 2 (men's still rings and vault; women's floor exercise)
Tuesday, 3 August
- 17:00 - 19:15 - Apparatus finals, day 3 (men's parallel bars and horizontal bar; women's balance beam)
Olympic artistic gymnastics competition format at Tokyo 2020
98 men and 98 women will compete in artistic gymnastics at Tokyo 2020. Nearly of athletes will have qualified to the Games through teams of four. Individual gymnasts can qualify through other various means, including winning an individual medal at the 2019 Worlds, the apparatus and all-around World Cup Series and the continental championships.
Once competition begins, the qualification round will determine the eight nations that advance to the team final, the 24 individuals who go for gold in the individual all-around final and the eight athletes on each apparatus that take the podium in the event finals.
For all medal rounds, no scores from qualifying carry over. In the team final, each nation will compete three routines and all three scores count. The final standings are determined by adding together all three scores on every apparatus. All-around medals are awarded by adding an individual gymnast’s scores on each apparatus together. The apparatus finals are simply the results of the eight routines performed on the day.
Olympic artistic gymnastics history
Artistic gymnastics has been part of the Olympic Games since the birth of the modern Games in 1896. Women first competed in artistic gymnastics at the Olympics in 1928 at the Olympics in Amsterdam.
The Soviet Union dominated the sport and leads the overall medal count with 182 overall medals, of which 72 were gold. The United States has won 114 Olympic gymnastics medals and Japan ranks third with 98 overall medals.
Larisa Latynina of the Soviet Union is the sport’s most decorated at the Olympics with 18 overall medals, nine of which are gold. Nikolai Andrianov also of the Soviet Union has the second most medals in the sport at 15.
What most consider the sport’s most iconic moment happened at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal when Romania’s Nadia Comaneci scored the first perfect 10.0 in Olympic history. She went on to collect six more perfect scores and three Olympic titles. Four years later at Moscow 1980, she won two more Olympic golds.
Olympic artistic gymnastics venue at Tokyo 2020
Gymnastics competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games will be held at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in the northern part of Tokyo’s Ariake district. The temporary venue has the capacity to hold 12,000 fans.