TOKYO – The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 wrapped following 17 days of competition between more than 11,656 athletes representing 205 nations and the International Olympic Committee Refugee Olympic Team. The Games, held after a year-long postponement, saw the 626 athletes from Team USA top the overall medal chart with 113 total medals (39 gold, 41 silver, 33 bronze).
“We kept our team safe and we’re coming home successful,” said Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee. “The Tokyo 2020 Games have been remarkable in so many ways and I’m filled with gratitude and pride. From the inspiring performances and perseverance of our athletes, to the incredible effort put forth by the organizers and people of Japan — these Games proved that the spirit of the Games is alive and renewed. Thank you, Japan, and thank you, Team USA, for representing the United States of America with skill, strength and undeniable spirit.”
Team USA’s Tokyo performance continued its streak atop the overall medal chart to seven straight Games, dating back to 1996. Overall, 257 American athletes contributed to the medal count, including 29 multiple medalists and seven who won multiple gold medals. Of the 44 sport disciplines in which U.S. athletes competed, the U.S. brought home hardware in 28.
“The athletes of Team USA honored themselves, their communities, their families, and all of us with their excellent performances in Tokyo,” said Rick Adams, USOPC chief of sport performance and Team USA chef de mission. “It’s the greatest honor of my career to serve as chef de mission here and I want to thank the athletes, coaches, National Governing Bodies and USOPC staff for coming together in truly complicated times. Tokyo 2020 was a great success for Team USA – in sport, in organization, and in mental and physical well-being, and will serve as a guide for us as we look ahead to Beijing and beyond.”
In keeping with the precedent set at previous Games, the women of Team USA led the way in medal success, topping their previous high from 2016 with 66 medals in 60 events – a medal record that would place them third among all countries.
“Everyone has overcome so much and we have been so inspired by all of these dominant performances across the board. Tokyo has been an amazing host and I’m grateful to have participated,” said Allyson Felix, who took home a gold medal in the women’s 4×400-meter relay and a bronze medal in the individual 400 to become the most decorated American track Olympian in history. “There are so many young girls and boys looking up to Olympic athletes, it’s a very neat cycle to be a part of, and very humbling”.
Of the Americans who earned medals in Tokyo, 82% competed in collegiate athletics, with the majority of those coming from swimming, track and field, and team sports. Overall, the U.S. collected 27 medals in team events, extending its winning streaks in men’s basketball (four straight Olympic Games), women’s water polo (3), and women’s basketball (7).
In addition to the medal table, the Tokyo Games introduced a new statistic into Olympic parlance – COVID-19 test results. Following a rigorous pre-departure testing process, the Team USA delegation of approximately 1,600 members participated in daily COVID-19 testing. Between Opening and Closing ceremonies, only two U.S. delegates tested positive.
“The months of preparation to mitigate COVID-19 at these Games paid off,” said Dr. Jonathan Finnoff, USOPC chief medical officer. “We created systems that allowed Team USA athletes to train, travel and compete successfully in this environment, all while keeping the greater community safe, and providing excellent mental and physical care to athletes as they navigated the Games. To test at the rate we did, and to act quickly as issues arose, took intricate coordination across our teams and I think helped refine a Games model that we’ll use in the future.”
The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, International Olympic Committee and government of Japan prepared and executed measures to ensure a safe environment for the world’s athletes to come together. 94 nations won medals in Tokyo surpassing the previous high mark of 86 recorded at the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
“Postponed, reorganized and reimagined, these Games will rightfully go down in history as a lesson in resilience” said USOPC chair Susanne Lyons. “Let me share my gratitude to the USOPC and all who work on behalf of the Olympic Movement in the United States. Team USA was well-prepared and well-supported, and it manifested in great performances and sportsmanship both on and off the field.”
HIGHLIGHTS AND HISTORICAL PERFORMANCES
Team USA saw emerging leaders across sport representing diverse groups of athletes of various ages and cultural backgrounds. Twenty-eight sport disciplines medaled during the Tokyo Games, including several events with historic firsts:
- The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 saw the addition of 3×3 basketball, BMX freestyle, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing and mixed events in shooting, swimming, triathlon and track and field. Across these new additions, Team USA earned 10 medals.
- The 2020 Games also marked the return of baseball and softball.
- Simone Biles tied Shannon Miller as the most decorated U.S. gymnast in Olympic history with seven medals.
- Carissa Moore became the first to win a gold medal in women’s surfing, a new sport for the Tokyo 2020 Games.
- Caeleb Dressel (swimming) leaves Tokyo as the winningest athlete of any nation with five gold medals.
- Team USA wrestlers earned nine medals in Tokyo — the most since 1984. Gable Stevenson, David Taylor and Tamyra Mensah-Stock earned gold medals, with Stock becoming the first Black women’s wrestler to earn gold.
- With her two medals in Tokyo, Allyson Felix cemented her status as the most decorated American in Olympic track and field history. With 11 career Olympic medals (and seven golds) she surpassed Carl Lewis (10) leading the most medals of all-time for the sport in U.S. history and ranks second behind Finland’s Paavo Nurmi for all-time Olympic track and field medals.
- With the silver medal in baseball, Cuban-American Eddy Alvarez became only the sixth athlete in Olympic history — and the third American — to win medals in both summer and winter Games.
- Team USA claimed its first gold medal in women’s volleyball, after three silvers (1984, 2008, 2012) and two bronzes (1992, 2016).
- Sarah Robles followed suit to become the first American woman to win two Olympic medals in weightlifting.
- Xander Schauffele and Nelly Korda swept the men’s and women’s individual golf titles, becoming the first American golfers to claim Olympic gold in the individual events in 121 years (1900).
- Sunisa Lee became the first Hmong-American to compete in the Olympic Games, and first to win gold in the women’s gymnastics all-around competition.
- Ryan Crouser set the men’s shot put Olympic record three times en route to his repeat gold-medal performance from 2016.
- With five gold medals each, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi become the winningest Olympic basketball players in history.
Whether it was an athlete’s first Games, or one of many, the spirit of Team USA radiated throughout Tokyo and was solidified as one of the most memorable Games in history.
“My first Olympic Games was one I’ll always remember and being a part of Team USA has been an incredible experience,” said Nevin Harrison, first-time Olympian and gold medalist in the 200-meter canoe sprint. “We are here with each other and for each other, and to be a part of such historic performances makes this a truly special Games. Tokyo was an amazing host and I can’t wait to bring my Olympic gold back to the States. I hope this is just the beginning of my journey representing Team USA and I can inspire others to chase their own Olympic dreams.”
Featured Images Caption: Sydney McLaughlin breaks the world 400m hurdles record to get Olympic gold in Tokyo (Getty Images/World Athletics)