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Olympic wrestling at Tokyo 2020: Top five things to know

Your one-stop guide to wrestling at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021, including top athletes, venue information, schedule and more!

By Andrew Binner ·

Wrestling enjoys huge popularity in Japan, and is one of the hottest tickets in town at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021.

A whopping 288 athletes will compete across three categories for 18 wrestling gold medals.

Here, we have a closer look at the athletes in contention for the medals, and take in some Olympic history in our guide to Olympic wrestling at Tokyo 2020.

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Top Olympic wrestlers at Tokyo 2020

In the freestyle division, all eyes will be on the reigning Olympic champions like ‘Russian tank’ Abdulrashid Sadulaev, Iran’s ‘Fearless’ Hassan Yazdani, and Turkish giant Taha Akgul.

American athletes can only book their place at the Games through winning their national Olympic trials in April 2021. With world champions David Taylor, Kyle Dake, and J’den Cox joining the likes of Olympic gold medallists Jordan Burroughs and Kyle Snyder in the various weight divisions, expect fireworks from the USA qualifiers.

Also keep an eye out for Georgia’s reigning 125kg world champion Geno Petriashvili.

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Japan's women won four gold medals and one silver out of six weight divisions at the Rio 2016 Olympics. In 57kg world champion Kawai Risako, the host nation has a favourite to land Olympic gold in 2021.

One of the non-Japanese women to land gold in Rio was Canada’s Erica Wiebe, who will be hopeful of defending her title.

Five-time world champion Adeline Gray of USA will be odds on to take the 76kg division, while her compatriot and fellow world champ Tamyra Mensah-Stock - who recently defeated Gray in an exhibition bout - is one to watch in the 68kg competition.

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In the Greco-Roman competition, the ROC team and Japan will hope to dominate.

In Roman Vlasov and Davit Chakvetadze, ROC team not only have two Olympic champions, but also two men in a rich vein of form, having won medals at the recent Individual World Cup in Belgrade.

Meanwhile, Japan will be looking at world champions Fumita Kenichiro and Ota Shinobu to produce world-beating performances on home soil.

The 130kg heavyweight division is going to be a cracker, with Cuban three-time Olympic champ Mijain Lopez, Turkish Olympic silver medallist and reigning world champ Riza Kayaalp, and ROC team's former world champ Sergey Semenov all in the running.

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Olympic wrestling competition format at Tokyo 2020

Wrestling at Tokyo 2020 will feature three competitions, with 96 men in each style and 96 women.

There will be a men’s and women’s freestyle wrestling tournament, and a men’s-only Greco-Roman event.

The three competitions will be further divided into different six weight categories, meaning there will be 18 gold medals up for grabs. The women’s and Greco-Roman events have slightly increased the upper-limit of each weight category for the Tokyo Games.

For all events, there is a direct elimination system that eventually decides the two finalists for the gold medal match. Athletes who lose to the finalists get a second chance to win one of two bronze medals in the repechage.

Olympic wrestling features fewer weight categories than the world championships, meaning some world champions will not make their nation’s Olympic team.

Olympic wrestling schedule at Tokyo 2020

All times are Japan Standard Time (GMT/UTC+9)

The competition will take place from 1 - 7 August 2021.

1 August 2021

11:00 - 13:00

  • Men's Greco-Roman 60 kg 1/8 Finals
  • Women's Freestyle 76 kg 1/8 Finals
  • Men's Greco-Roman 130 kg 1/8 Finals
  • Men's Greco-Roman 60 kg 1/4 Finals
  • Women's Freestyle 76 kg 1/4 Finals
  • Men's Greco-Roman 130 kg 1/4 Finals

18:15 - 19:15

  • Men's Greco-Roman 60 kg Semifinals
  • Men's Greco-Roman 130 kg Semifinals
  • Women's Freestyle 76 kg Semifinals

2 August 2021

11:00 - 13:30

  • Men's Greco-Roman 60 kg Repechage
  • Women's Freestyle 76 kg Repechage
  • Men's Greco-Roman 130 kg Repechage
  • Men's Greco-Roman 77 kg 1/8 Finals
  • Women's Freestyle 68 kg 1/8 Finals
  • Men's Greco-Roman 97 kg 1/8 Finals
  • Men's Greco-Roman 77 kg 1/4 Finals
  • Women's Freestyle 68 kg 1/4 Finals
  • Men's Greco-Roman 97 kg 1/4 Finals

18:15 - 22:00

  • Men's Greco-Roman 77 kg Semifinals
  • Men's Greco-Roman 97 kg Semifinals
  • Women's Freestyle 68 kg Semifinals
  • Men's Greco-Roman 60 kg Bronze Medal Matches
  • Men's Greco-Roman 60 kg Final
  • Men's Greco-Roman 130 kg Bronze Medal Matches
  • Men's Greco-Roman 130 kg Final
  • Women's Freestyle 76 kg Bronze Medal Matches
  • Women's Freestyle 76 kg Final

3 August 2021

11:00 - 13:30

  • Men's Greco-Roman 77 kg Repechage
  • Women's Freestyle 68 kg Repechage
  • Men's Greco-Roman 97 kg Repechage
  • Men's Greco-Roman 67 kg 1/8 Finals
  • Women's Freestyle 62 kg 1/8 Finals
  • Men's Greco-Roman 87 kg 1/8 Finals
  • Men's Greco-Roman 67 kg 1/4 Finals
  • Women's Freestyle 62 kg 1/4 Finals
  • Men's Greco-Roman 87 kg 1/4 Finals

18:15 - 22:00

  • Men's Greco-Roman 67 kg Semifinals
  • Men's Greco-Roman 87 kg Semifinals
  • Women's Freestyle 62 kg Semifinals
  • Men's Greco-Roman 77 kg Bronze Medal Matches
  • Men's Greco-Roman 77 kg Final
  • Men's Greco-Roman 97 kg Bronze Medal Matches
  • Men's Greco-Roman 97 kg Final
  • Women's Freestyle 68 kg Bronze Medal Matches
  • Women's Freestyle 68 kg Final

4 August 2021

11:00 - 13:30

  • Men's Greco-Roman 67 kg Repechage
  • Women's Freestyle 62 kg Repechage
  • Men's Greco-Roman 87 kg Repechage
  • Men's Freestyle 57 kg 1/8 Finals
  • Women's Freestyle 57 kg 1/8 Finals
  • Men's Freestyle 86 kg 1/8 Finals
  • Men's Freestyle 57 kg 1/4 Finals
  • Women's Freestyle 57 kg 1/4 Finals
  • Men's Freestyle 86 kg 1/4 Finals

18:15 - 22:00

  • Men's Freestyle 57 kg Semifinals
  • Men's Freestyle 86 kg Semifinals
  • Women's Freestyle 57 kg Semifinals
  • Men's Greco-Roman 67 kg Bronze Medal Matches
  • Men's Greco-Roman 67 kg Final
  • Men's Greco-Roman 87 kg Bronze Medal Matches
  • Men's Greco-Roman 87 kg Final
  • Women's Freestyle 62 kg Bronze Medal Matches
  • Women's Freestyle 62 kg Final

5 August 2021

11:00 - 13:30

  • Men's Freestyle 57 kg Repechage
  • Women's Freestyle 57 kg Repechage
  • Men's Freestyle 86 kg Repechage
  • Men's Freestyle 74 kg 1/8 Finals
  • Women's Freestyle 53 kg 1/8 Finals
  • Men's Freestyle 125 kg 1/8 Finals
  • Men's Freestyle 74 kg 1/4 Finals
  • Women's Freestyle 53 kg 1/4 Finals
  • Men's Freestyle 125 kg 1/4 Finals

18:15 - 22:00

  • Men's Freestyle 74 kg Semifinals
  • Men's Freestyle 125 kg Semifinals
  • Women's Freestyle 53 kg Semifinals
  • Men's Freestyle 57 kg Bronze Medal Matches
  • Men's Freestyle 57 kg Final
  • Men's Freestyle 86 kg Bronze Medal Matches
  • Men's Freestyle 86 kg Final
  • Women's Freestyle 57 kg Bronze Medal Matches
  • Women's Freestyle 57 kg Final

6 August 2021

11:00 - 13:30

  • Men's Freestyle 74 kg Repechage
  • Women's Freestyle 53 kg Repechage
  • Men's Freestyle 125 kg Repechage
  • Men's Freestyle 65 kg 1/8 Finals
  • Women's Freestyle 50 kg 1/8 Finals
  • Men's Freestyle 97 kg 1/8 Finals
  • Men's Freestyle 65 kg 1/4 Finals
  • Women's Freestyle 50 kg 1/4 Finals
  • Men's Freestyle 97 kg 1/4 Finals

18:15 - 22:00

  • Men's Freestyle 65 kg Semifinals
  • Men's Freestyle 97 kg Semifinals
  • Women's Freestyle 50 kg Semifinals
  • Men's Freestyle 74 kg Bronze Medal Matches
  • Men's Freestyle 74 kg Final
  • Men's Freestyle 125 kg Bronze Medal Matches
  • Men's Freestyle 125 kg Final
  • Women's Freestyle 53 kg Bronze Medal Matches
  • Women's Freestyle 53 kg Final

7 August 2021

18:45 - 22:00

  • Men's Freestyle 65 kg Repechage
  • Women's Freestyle 50 kg Repechage
  • Men's Freestyle 97 kg Repechage
  • Men's Freestyle 65 kg Bronze Medal Matches
  • Men's Freestyle 65 kg Final
  • Men's Freestyle 97 kg Bronze Medal Matches
  • Men's Freestyle 97 kg Final
  • Women's Freestyle 50 kg Bronze Medal Matches
  • Women's Freestyle 50 kg Final

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Olympic wrestling venue at Tokyo 2020

The enormous Makuhari Messe Hall was built in 1989, and is located right next to Tokyo’s Disneyland, is the venue for Olympic wrestling at the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021.

The convention centre’s three major zones will host different sports.

Wrestling and taekwondo will take place in the 10,000-capacity Hall A, while fencing is in the 8,000-capacity Hall B.

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Olympic wrestling history

Wrestling carries with it plenty of Olympic history, having featured ancient Games in 708 BC.

The sport’s Greco-Roman style was included in the first modern Summer Olympics at Athens 1896.

Freestyle wrestling and weight classifications were added to the programme at the St. Louis 1904 Games and have remained ever since, while women’s wrestling made its Olympic debut at Athens 2004.

The most successful wrestling nation in modern Olympic history is the former Soviet Union with 62 gold medals, closely followed by the USA (54), Japan (32), and Russia (30).

Though she won’t be competing in Tokyo, Japanese Hall of Fame wrestler Icho Kaori won a record-setting fourth Olympic gold at Rio 2016.