he Tokyo Olympics have finally arrived and after a five-year build-up, the next two-and-a-half weeks are set to be packed with drama, joy and despair as the sporting action gets into full swing.
An eight-hour time difference means the Games might be a little trickier for UK fans to follow, with some late nights and early mornings on the cards.
Here is one event each day that’s not to be missed (all times BST)…
Day 0 – Opening ceremony (12pm)
With fans banned from attending and athlete numbers way down due to Covid restrictions, it is not an opening ceremony as we know it, but the Games have formally begun and the Olympic flame will be lit. As is precedent, Greece marched first in the athletes parade, with Japan last to enter the stadium.
Day 1 – Cycling – Men’s road race (3am)
Taking in the slopes of Mount Fuji, the men’s road race is the stellar attraction on day one. The British team includes three Grand Tour winners in Geraint Thomas, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Simon Yates but Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar is the favourite, with Belgium’s Wout van Aert also sure to be a player.
Day 2 – Taekwondo – Women’s 57kg (1:30pm)
While there are British medal contenders on the opening day, Jade Jones is the first major hope in finals action as she bids to become the first British woman to win three successive Olympic titles. Look out for team-mate Bradley Sinden, too, who is the defending world champion in the men’s -68kg class.
Day 3 – Swimming – Men’s 100m breaststroke final (3:12am)
The closest thing Britain have to a certainty at these Games will bid for his second Olympic title in the pool. It’s been more than seven years since Adam Peaty’s last major championship defeat over 100m and he has swum the 18 fastest times in history. Could his own world record be under threat?
Day 4 – Gymnastics – Women’s team final (11:45am)
The Simone Biles medal rush seems set to begin as the USA seek to defend their title in the Ariake Gymnastics Centre. Widely considered the greatest gymnast of all-time, Biles will team up with Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum in pursuit of the first of what could be five medals.
Day 5 – Equestrian – Individual dressage final (9:30am)
As with Jones earlier in the week, Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin will be bidding for a third successive Olympic title but will have to do it without the horse that won gold in London and Rio, Valegro, who has since been retired. Gio will be her new partner, something of a surprise selection over more regular ride Mount St John Freestyle.
Day 6 – Rowing – Women’s pair final (1:30am)
We could see one of the stories of the Games as Helen Glover, partnered by Polly Swann, looks to complete a remarkable comeback. Glover retired after winning gold in Rio and returned to the sport four years later as a mother of three to seek a third Olympic title in Tokyo.
Day 7 – Rowing – Men’s eight final (2:25am)
All eyes will again be on the Sea Forest Waterway for the final day of rowing competition. Britain’s Vicky Thornley goes for gold in the single sculls before what is always one of the highlights of the Games, the men’s eight – where Britain are defending champions – rounds off the regatta.
Day 8 – Athletics – Women’s 100m final (1:50pm)
Britain’s poster girl of the Games, Dina Asher-Smith, gets her first shot at gold in a final that should upstage the men’s equivalent in terms of spectacle. US sensation Sha’Carri Richardson may be absent but Jamaicans Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (2008 & 2012 champion) and Elaine Thompson (2016 champion) are part of a stacked field.
Day 9 – Swimming – Men’s 4x100m medley relay (3:36am)
The final race in the pool could be one of the best. The USA have won this event at every Games since it was introduced in 1960 (bar their 1980 Moscow boycott) but were stunned by Britain at the 2019 World Championships – can Peaty, Duncan Scott & Co. repeat that upset?
Day 10 – Weightlifting – Women’s +87kg (7:50am & 11:50am)
History will be made as New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard becomes the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympic Games. The IOC’s decision to allow her participation has been hugely controversial and the debate is only likely to intensify should the 43-year-old make the podium.
Day 11 – Cycling – Women’s team pursuit (9:05am) & Men’s team sprint (9:35am)
If Britain is to have a ‘Super Saturday’ equivalent, this will be it, with Pat McCormack, Giles Scott, Jack Laugher and Asher-Smith among a host of genuine medal shots. All eyes, though, will be on the velodrome, where Jason and Laura Kenny could be in finals action within half an hour of each other.
Day 12 – Skateboarding – Women’s park final (4:30am)
There might not be a British athlete at the Games with more superstar potential than Sky Brown, who at just 13 years of age will become the country’s youngest ever summer Olympian. She has a real medal chance, too, having won bronze at the last World Championships.
Day 13 – Athletics – Women’s heptathlon day two (from 1:40am, final event 1:30pm)
Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s hopes of adding the Olympic title to her world gold from 2019 have been hit by an Achilles injury but the latest instalment of her rivalry with defending champion Nafi Thiam could still come down to the wire. Watch out for a cracking men’s shot put final, too.
Day 14 – Football – Women’s final (3am)
No women’s team has ever backed up a World Cup win with gold at the next Olympics but the USA are out to change that this summer. For greats like Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, victory would cap an era of domination – Team GB will hope to be in contention to deny them.
Day 15 – Diving – Men’s 10m platform final (7am)
Tom Daley has seemed destined for Olympic glory ever since he first captured the nation’s attention in his early teens, but despite a glittering career that has brought three world titles, he has never managed more than bronze at the Games. This will surely be the 27-year-old’s final chance.
Day 16 – Boxing – Men’s super-heavyweight final (7:15am)
It could be a golden finale for Britain in the ring, with Luke McCormack (lightweight), Caroline Dubois (lightweight) and Lauren Price (middleweight) all among the medal favourites. The headline act may come last, though, as Frazer Clarke hopes to be in with a chance of emulating Anthony Joshua in the final fight of the Games.