Olympics primer: A day-by-day look at the big events and Canadians to watch
TORONTO -- In so many ways, this will be an Olympic Games unlike any other.
Owing to COVID-19 restrictions, there will be no fans in the stands, no room for Olympians' families, and strict restrictions on what athletes can do when they're not competing. Even the medal ceremonies will seem unfamiliar, with athletes told to put their medals around their own necks.
There are plenty of changes to the sports program, too. Baseball and softball are returning after a 12-year absence, while karate, sport climbing, surfing and skateboarding have all been added to the roster for 2020.
Meanwhile, some of the top athletes in recent memory will be notable by their absences from Tokyo. Swimmer Michael Phelps and track star Usain Bolt both retired after the 2016 Games, while many athletes in basketball, tennis and other sports – including Serena Williams and Bianca Andreescu – have announced that they will not be participating due to COVID-19 concerns.
Canada is sending some 370 athletes to Tokyo, with high hopes for the country's largest Summer Olympics delegation since the Soviet-boycotted Games of 1984. Canadian athletes won 22 medals in Rio five years ago – itself tied for the second-most ever, behind 1984 – including four golds.
For those looking to cheer on Team Canada and those just looking to enjoy the spectacle of the world's greatest athletes competing in the same place, CTVNews.ca has compiled a day-by-day viewing guide to the (slightly delayed) 2020 Summer Olympics.
Note that most events occur between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. EDT/4 p.m. and 6 a.m. PDT. All times listed below are EDT.
July 20-22: The opening ceremony takes place on July 23, but competition begins early in some sports. Canada finished fourth the last time softball was on the Olympic roster, in 2008, and will be looking to get off to a good start against Mexico (July 21, 2 a.m.) and the archrival United States team (July 21, 8 p.m.). Our women's soccer team, bronze medallists at the last two Games, will again be led by Christine Sinclair when they kick off against Japan (July 21, 6:30 a.m.). Rowing and archery competitions get underway on the evening of July 22.
July 23: Start your day with the opening ceremony (7 a.m.), during which women's basketball player Miranda Ayim and men's rugby sevens player Nathan Hirayama will lead Canada's delegation into Olympic Stadium. Friday night, kick back and enjoy the beginning of the men's gymnastics competition (9 p.m.), followed by the first medal showdowns – a shooting event (9:45 p.m.) and the men's cycling road race (10 p.m.).
July 24: Canada has been touted as a medal favourite in beach volleyball. Sarah Pavan of Kitchener, Ont. and Melissa Humana-Paredes of Toronto won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2019 world championship, and they start their campaign against the Netherlands (12 a.m.). Our women's water polo team starts its medal campaign against Australia (2:20 a.m.), while the women's soccer squad faces off with Chile (3:30 a.m.) and half a dozen gold medals are handed out in judo (4:30 a.m.). Evening brings a new day in Japan, starting with the first-ever Olympic surfing event (6 p.m.) and featuring women's gymnastics qualifiers (9 p.m.) and the first swimming medal event, the men's 400-metre individual medley (9:30 p.m.). Later on is the women's 4x100-metre swimming relay (10:45 p.m.), in which Canada won bronze in 2016.
July 25: Qualifiers in boxing, beach volleyball, gymnastics and other sports run through the early-morning hours, as does the women's cycling road race (12 a.m.). The first diving medals go to the winners of the women's three-metre springboard synchro competition (2 a.m.), and qualifying heats begin in one of the signature men's swimming events, the 100-metre backstroke (7:20 a.m.). Come back later in the day for the men's triathlon (5:30 p.m.) and the first match for Hirayama and his rugby sevens crew (8:30 p.m.). Later in the evening, medal events include a succession of women's and men's swimming finals – starting with the women's 100-metre butterfly (9:30 p.m.), in which Penny Oleksiak of Toronto won silver last time around, and Maggie MacNeil of London, Ont. won the world championship in 2019 – and the first-ever women's skateboarding final (11:25 p.m.).
July 26: Canada will be competing for medals in two simultaneous events – men's 10-metre platform synchronized diving (2 a.m.) and the men's cross-country mountain bike race (2 a.m.). Ayim and the rest of Canada's women's basketball team start their campaign with a match against Serbia (4:20 a.m.). Before the day ends in Japan, the first gymnastics medals will go to the winners of the men's team event (6 a.m.), and Canada's youngest Olympian – 14-year-old Toronto swimmer Summer McIntosh – will see her first action in the 200-metre freestyle heats (6 a.m.). It's the women's triathlon that kicks off the next round of events (5:30 p.m.), and medal-watchers may also be interested in the quadruple sculls rowing finals (9 p.m.) and another night of swimming finals (9:45 p.m.), including the men's and women's 100-metre backstroke competitions, where Kylie Masse of LaSalle, Ont. will be hoping to better her bronze medal from Rio.
July 27: Canada's medal hopes start with the women's 10-metre platform synchronized diving final (2.a.m). Meghan Benefito of Montreal won bronze in this event in 2016, and is back with a new partner; Caeli McKay of Calgary replaces the retired Roseline Filion. The early-morning schedule also features medal events in canoeing (3 a.m.), equestrian (4 a.m.), women's team gymnastics (6:45 a.m.) and women's softball (7 a.m.), while Canada's women's soccer team takes on Great Britain (7 a.m.). Evening highlights include the first medals ever awarded in surfing (women at 7 p.m., men at 7:45 p.m.), several medal events in rowing (starting at 8:15 p.m.), and the men's 4x200 freestyle swimming relay final (11:25 p.m.).
July 28: Only one medal event at 2 a.m. this time, the men's three-metre synchronized springboard diving final. If the men's rugby sevens squad is successful, they'll be playing this morning for either the bronze (4:30 a.m.) or the gold (5 a.m.). Early risers may also be interested in the men's individual all-around gymnastics final (6:15 a.m.), and the first-ever gold medal matches in three-on-three basketball (women at 8:55 a.m., men at 9:25 a.m.). The first round of the men's golf tournament kicks off the evening (6:30 p.m.); other later-day highlights include the first match for our women's rugby sevens squad (8:30 p.m.), which won bronze in Rio, and Pavan and Humana-Paredes taking on Switzerland in their final round-robin contest (10 p.m.).
July 29: The canoeing schedule resumes with the women's C1 final (2:45 a.m.), but otherwise the only early-morning medal events are in shooting (1:30 a.m.), judo (4:30 a.m.) and fencing (5:30 a.m.). As the day dawns on eastern North America, the women's individual all-around gymnastics final takes place (6:50 a.m.), as does the gold medal match in women's table tennis (8 a.m.). Track and field – or, in Olympic parlance, "athletics" – activity gets underway later in the day, with the first qualifier in the men's steeplechase (8 p.m.). It's a big night for rowing fans (9 p.m.), including the women's eight and men's eight finals, and there are another four medal events in swimming (9:40 p.m.) – including the women's 100-metre freestyle (10 p.m.), which Oleksiak won in 2016. BMX racing finals take place too (men at 10:40 p.m., women at 10:50 p.m.).
July 30: Rosie MacLennan of King, Ont., the first two-time gold medallist in her sport's history, will look to defend her trampoline crown on this day (qualifiers at 12 a.m., final at 1:45 a.m.). Other early highlights include medal events in men's K1 canoe slalom (3 a.m.) and women's archery (3:30 a.m.). Women's soccer quarterfinals get underway later in the morning (5 a.m.), and medals are awarded in men's doubles tennis (7 a.m.), the men's 10,000-metre race (7:30 a.m.) and men's table tennis (8 a.m.). Friday evening kicks off with the mixed triathlon relay (6:30 p.m.); other notable events include qualification in the men's pole vault (8:40 p.m.) and another round of swimming finals (9:30 p.m.), including the first-ever mixed 4x100 relay event.
July 31: Medal events get underway in boxing (12:40 a.m.) and sailing (1:30 a.m.), while in gymnastics, it's time for the men's trampoline final (1:50 a.m.). It's also gold-medal time for women's rugby sevens (5 a.m.). As with swimming, track and field is introducing mixed events this year, including a mixed 4x400 relay race (8:35 a.m.). Saturday morning also brings the final in the women's 100-metre race (8:50 a.m.). The final round of the men's golf tournament starts the evening action (6:30 p.m.), while our women's basketball team has a big matchup against Spain (9 p.m.). This is one of the few evenings with athletics and swimming running simultaneously; the highlight on this night may be the women's and men's 4x100 medley relays in the pool (10:15 p.m.). If that wasn't enough, it's also the night of the gold-medal match in men's tennis (11 p.m.).
Aug. 1: There are early-morning medal events in badminton, sailing, and women's doubles tennis, to name a few, along with the final in the women's three-metre springboard diving competition (2 a.m.). Jennifer Abel, Canada's most decorated diver, finished fourth in this event in 2016 and won bronze in 2012. It's also a busy morning for gymnastics, with finals in the men's floor exercise (4 a.m.), women's vault (4:55 a.m.), men's pommel horse (5:45 a.m.) and women's uneven bars (6:25 a.m.). In athletics, medals will be awarded in the men's high jump (6:10 a.m.) – defending champion Derek Drouin of Sarnia, Ont. is not participating due to injury – and women's triple jump (7:20 a.m.) before the men's 100-metre race (8:50 a.m.) caps off the morning. Remember: Andre De Grasse of Toronto won bronze in the 100 metres event in Rio. Evening excitement includes medal events in men's long jump (9:20 p.m.) and women's 100-metre hurdles (10:50 p.m.).
Aug. 2: Badminton is not a big sport in Canada, but it will be your best bet for medal action at one point, with the finals in men's doubles and women's singles both underway at the same time (12 a.m.). On the gymnastics floor, it's time for medal events in men's rings (4 a.m.), the women's floor exercise (5 a.m.) and the men's vault (5:55 a.m.). Also awarded this morning are the first medals of these Games in men's Greco-Roman and women's freestyle wrestling (7 a.m.). Wrestler Erica Wiebe of Ottawa will be hoping to defend her gold medal from Rio in the 76-kilogram final (7:55 a.m.). The evening session includes quarterfinals in men's volleyball (8 p.m.) and women's beach volleyball (8 p.m.), along with medal events in women's long jump (9:50 p.m.) and several canoeing events (10:30 p.m.). Christabel Nettey of Brampton, Ont. could be someone to watch in the long jump; she won gold in the event at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Aug. 3: Some of the best early-morning action can be found at the pool, where it's time for the men's three-metre springboard diving final (2 a.m.). The final gymnastics medals are handed out for men's parallel bars (4 a.m.), women's beam (4:55 a.m.) and men's horizontal bar (5:42 a.m.), while on the track it's finals time for the men's pole vault (6:20 a.m.), women's hammer throw (7:35 a.m.) women's 800 metres (8:25 a.m.) and women's 200 metres (8:50 a.m.). Tuesday evening is short on medal events, with the women's 400-metre hurdles (10:30 p.m.) one of only two on offer. There is reason for Canadians to watch this, though: Sage Watson of Medicine Hat, Alta. won gold in the hurdles at the 2019 Pan Am Games. Also on the docket this evening is the first round of the women's golf tournament (6:30 p.m.), where Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont. is among the contenders.
Aug. 4: Lots and lots of boxing finals on the docket in the earliest hours (1 a.m.). Later in the morning, highlights include the equestrian individual jumping final (6 a.m.), and medal events in track and field disciplines including men's hammer throw (7:15 a.m.), men's 800 metres (8:05 a.m.) and men's 200 metres (8:55 a.m.), in which De Grasse won silver in Rio. Athletics is again the highlight when action picks up in the evening; champions will be determined in such events as men's triple jump (10 p.m.), men's shot put (10:05 p.m.) and men's 110-metre hurdles (10:55 p.m.).
Aug. 5: The women's 10-metre platform diving final (2 a.m.), is an early highlight; others include medal events in boxing (2:30 a.m.) and women's track cycling (4:35 a.m.). Attention will once again turn to athletics later in the morning, with finals in the women's pole vault (6:20 a.m.) – hoping to do well here will be Alysha Newman of London, Ont., who won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games -- and men's 400 metres (8 a.m.), plus the last events of the women's heptathlon (8:20 a.m.) and men's decathlon (8:40 a.m.). Damian Warner of London, Ont. is the reigning Olympic bronze medallist in the decathlon. Two of the lengthiest tournaments of the Games come to a conclusion in the evening, with gold-medal matches in women's soccer (10 p.m.) and women's beach volleyball (10:30 p.m.); Canada could be in the mix in either sport.
Aug. 6: Combat sports get us started on the final weekday of the Olympics, with another five gold-medal matches in boxing (1 a.m.), plus three in karate (6:50 a.m.) and four in wrestling (6:55 a.m.). The women's javelin throw final (7:50 a.m.) leads the morning athletics schedule, followed by the women's 400 metres (8:35 a.m.) and the women's and men's 4x100-metre relays (women at 9:30 a.m., men at 9:50 a.m.). Canada won bronze in the men's relay in 2016. The evening begins with the final round of the women's golf tournament (6:30 p.m.), and also includes finals in men's basketball (10:30 p.m.), men's beach volleyball (10:30 p.m.), and four canoeing events (10:15 p.m.).
Aug. 7: The last full day of the Games starts off with medal events in boxing (1 a.m.), men's 10-metre platform diving (2 a.m.), men's baseball (6 a.m.) and equestrian team jumping (6 a.m.), to name a few. A busy day of athletics includes finals in women's high jump (6:35 a.m.), men's javelin throw (7 a.m.), men's 1,500 metres (7:40 a.m.) and the 4x400-metre relays (women at 8:30 a.m., men at 8:50 a.m.). It's also championship time in men's soccer (7:30 a.m.). A muted evening schedule includes finals in track cycling (10:20 p.m.) and women's basketball (10:30 p.m.).
Aug. 8: Eight events are scheduled for the early-morning hours, but Canada did not qualify in women's volleyball (12:30 a.m.), women's handball (2 a.m.) or men's water polo (3:30 a.m.). We're also only sending a competitor to one of the four boxing weight classes with finals on this day. That means any chance at a medal here comes in women's middleweight (1:45 a.m.) via Tammara Thibeault of Saint-Georges, Que., which is certainly possible – she won silver at the 2019 Pan Am Games and bronze at the 2019 world championships. Most of Canada will have to rise just a little bit early to catch the closing ceremony (7 a.m.).