Notable players to watch in the Tokyo Olympics

After the 2020 Olympics were postponed, athletes are eager to get back on stage in 2021

The 2020 Olympics—though hosted in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemicbegin Friday, July 23 and will last until Sunday, Aug. 8. Held in Tokyo, Japan, the games will have a total of 46 sports, including new sports like skateboarding, and, for the first time in 12 years, baseball and softball. Something different about this Olympics is that there will be no fans in attendance, as Japan is still experiencing the lasting effects of COVID-19, having declared a state of emergency. Recent concerns of the ongoing Delta variant are also a factor.


This is the fourth-ever time the Olympics have been postponed. The first three times were because of war: Berlin 1916, Tokyo 1940 and London 1944. The Olympics come around every four years with it last being hosted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016. The United States dominates the summer Olympics with 1,022 gold medals and 2,523 medals in total. Germany comes in second with 428 gold and 1,346 in total. The Soviet Union comes in third with 440 gold and 1,122 medals in total. As you tune in to watch the games, here are some notable players and teams you should look forward to seeing compete.


The Olympics will see its first openly transgender athlete, Laurel Hubbard, representing New Zealand in weightlifting. The 43-year-old won gold in the 2019 Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa and silver in the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships in Anaheim, California. On June 21 of this year, the New Zealand Olympic Committee selected Hubbard to be on the Olympic Team. She will be competing in the 87 kilogram category. With controversy from this situation, Hubbard chooses to tune it out and continue to lift—with hope she will bring home a medal for her country.


On the other side of the age spectrum, an Olympian to watch for in a new event is a 13-year-old skater, Sky Brown. Brown is the youngest pro-skater in the world, and is representing Great Britain. Learning tricks just from YouTube, Brown finished bronze in the 2019 World Skateboarding Championship in São Paulo, Brazil.


X Games athlete and skating legend Nyjah Houston will be an Olympian representing the United States. Houston, who is the highest paid skateboarder in the world, has 12 gold medals under his belt with four silver and two bronze from the summer X games and is ready to compete for Olympic gold.


Swimmer Simone Manuel won two gold and two silver in the 2016 Rio Olympics and she’s back to acquire more medals. In 2017, the Stanford alum broke the American record—the entire continents of North and South Americain the 50 meter freestyle with a time of 23.97 seconds. She and her team have won numerous gold medals in the 4 x 100 and the 4 x 50. Manuel currently has 13 gold, 11 silver and four bronze medals in her swimming career. Another Stanford alum swimmer, Katie Ledecky, also searches for more Olympic medals. She is decorated with five gold and two silver medals from the Olympics, but has 28 gold, five silver and one bronze from her swimming career, obtaining most of them from the World Championships.


Noah Lyles, a sprinter and relay runner, won two gold medals in the 200 meter and 4 x 400 meter in the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar.  He has a personal best of 9.86 seconds in the 100 meter. Now, he’s looking for gold in the 200 meter. 


Fellow runner Allyson Felix is about to be a five-time Olympian, after making her Olympic debut in 2004. The 35-year-old runs the 400 and 4 x 400 relay, and carries six gold and three silver medals from the Olympics and 26 gold medals from her career. On top of all of this, she’s a mother, running again a year after giving birth to her daughter after a C-section. 


In 2018, Kenyan long-distance runner Eliud Kipchoge made a world record with a marathon time of 2:01:39. He looks for his 18th medal in this year’s Olympics. 


Simone Biles won four gold medals and a bronze on the vault and floor in the 2016 Rio Olympics, having a total of 35 medals from her career. Biles’ skill in gymnastics is evident, in that she has four moves named after her. She is a favorite to win gold again this tournament.


To no one’s surprise, the U.S. women’s national soccer team (USWNT)or football if you live literally anywhere else in the worldis competing in the Olympics. The USWNT is placed in “Group G” along with Sweden, Australia and New Zealand. In order to advance to the knockout stage, the U.S. will need to finish the group in first or second place. The number-one-ranked USWNT begins play on July 21 against number-five-ranked Sweden. Pacific Northwest teams Portland Thorns and OL Reign from Tacoma, Washington have six players on the stacked Olympic team roster: Adrianna Franch, Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn and Lindsey Horan from the Thorns; Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle representing the OL Reign.


The 2020 Tokyo Olympics this summer will have many new and returning Olympians making it to the big stage with 200 nations and over 11,000 athletes representing their countries, going for gold and inspiring generations to come.