A look at the medals for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo
One year from now -- Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020 -- wrestlers will take to the mat for the first day of competition at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. For seven days -- through Saturday, Aug. 7, 2020 -- wrestlers from around the world will be vying for medals ... and glory.
Tokyo will be the host city for the Summer Olympics for the second time in the history of the Modern Olympics (going back to 1896). Back in 1964, Japan's largest city welcomed the world's best amateur athletes for the Olympics 55 years ago. (More about that later.)
Looking forward: The 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Competition, by the numbers
At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, there will be a total of 288 slots for wrestlers in 18 competitions -- six weight-class competitions in men's freestyle, six weight classes in women's freestyle, and six in Greco-Roman. This translates to 16 wrestlers per weight class.
The six Olympic men's freestyle weight classes are 57 kilograms/125.4 pounds; 65 kilograms/143 pounds; 74 kilograms/163 pounds; 86 kilograms/183 pounds; 97 kilograms/213 pounds; and 125 kilograms/275 pounds.
The six weight classes for women's freestyle wrestling are 50 kilograms/110 pounds; 53 kilograms/116.5 pounds; 57 kilograms/125 pounds; 62 kilograms/136 pounds; 68 kilograms/149.5 pounds; and 75 kilograms/167 pounds.
The six Olympic Greco-Roman weight classes: 60 kilograms/132 pounds; 67 kilograms/147 pounds; 76 kilograms/167 pounds; 87 kilograms/191 pounds; 97 kilograms/213 pounds; and 130 kilograms/286 pounds.
Fewer wrestlers next year in Tokyo: Why?
When you hear that 288 wrestlers will be competing at the 2020 Olympics, that number sounds impressive. But it's significantly fewer than in recent Games.
Take the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. There was a total of 344 wrestlers at the Rio Games three years ago. That's a loss of 56 available slots for wrestlers in Tokyo next summer ... which translates to approximately one-fifth fewer wrestlers compared to the last Olympics.
Since the 2016 Rio Games, the International Olympic Committee has revealed a number of new sports for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, including karate, 3-on-3 basketball, BMX freestyle cycling, skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing ... along with the return of baseball/softball, which had been banished from the Olympics a few years ago, only to make a return appearance at the next Summer Olympics.
In addition, there will additional competitions added to some existing sports, such as swimming and track ... including some mixed-gender competitions.
All that said, it's not as if there will be hundreds of more athletes descending on Tokyo next summer compared to Rio in 2016. In the past decade or so, the IOC has had a goal of approximately 10,500 athletes at each Summer Olympics, with an attempt to have equal numbers of male/female competitors. (The IOC expects women to make up 48.8 per cent of all athletes at the 2020 Olympics.)
Why all these changes? It's all an attempt to make the Summer Games more appealing to a wider segment of the population by adding sports designed to attract young, urban athletes and fans ... while offering more competitive opportunities for women.
"I am delighted that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will be more youthful, more urban and will include more women," IOC President Thomas Bach said back in June 2017 when some of these new sports were first announced.
The 2020 Olympic wrestling competition will be held at Makuhari Messe
Wrestling venue and location
Wrestlers, coaches and fans at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be spending many hours at Hall A of Makuhari Messe, a huge convention center located in the Mihama-ku ward of Chiba city outside of Tokyo. Built in 1989, the venue is easily accessible by Tokyo's commuter rail system. Makuhari Messe is approximately 25 kilometers east of Olympic Village, and 30 kilometers east of the Olympic Stadium, site of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 2020 Games. Got some downtime? The wrestling venue is conveniently located not far from the Tokyo Disney Resort in Urayasu, and to Chiba prefecture's black sand beaches.
And, for those who remember the "issues" with some 2016 Olympic venues still being under construction as participants and guests were arriving for the Rio Games ... no such worries for Tokyo, as construction on Olympic Stadium and Olympic Village have long been completed.
Back in April of this year, United World Wrestling -- the international governing body for the sport -- revealed the competition schedule for wrestling at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics ... incorporating the two-day format for each weight-class. Greco-Roman competition will take place for the first four days, with men's freestyle starting on Wednesday, Aug. 5 ... and women's freestyle events spread throughout the seven days of wrestling competition.
Day 1: Sunday, August 2, 2020
Day 2: Monday, August 3, 2020
Day 3: Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Day 4: Wednesday, August 5, 2020
Day 5: Thursday, August 6, 2020
Day 6: Friday, August 7, 2020
Day 7: Saturday, August 8, 2020
Here's what United World Wrestling president Nenad Lalovic had to say about the 2020 Olympic schedule when it was released this past April: "The schedule announced by Tokyo 2020 will help wrestling ensure high attendance for each day of the competition. We saw nice crowds in Brazil and expect that this schedule will help us reach even more fans and create a positive and energetic environment for all our competitors. The stars of women's wrestling will guarantee that interest-level."
Watching the clock: a difference in time
One challenge for wrestling fans unable to make the trip to the 2020 Olympics who want to keep up with on-the-mat developments as they happen in Japan: the significant time difference between the U.S. and Tokyo. Realize that there is a 13-hour time difference between the Eastern Time Zone and Japan. That means that when it's 4:12 p.m. Thursday in New York, it will be 5:12 a.m. Friday in Tokyo.
Looking back: The 1964 Tokyo Olympics
Half a century ago, Tokyo played host to the world's top athletes ... as host of the 1964 Summer Olympics. Unlike the 2020 Tokyo Games which are scheduled for August, the 1964 Games took place a bit later on the calendar, with wrestling taking place October 11-19 at Komazawa Gymnasium, a 3,875-seat facility completed in 1962.
Wrestling competition at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics featured 275 athletes from 42 countries. All of the wrestlers were men. (Women's wrestling competition did not arrive at the Olympics until the 2004 Athens Games.) There were competitions in men's freestyle and Greco-Roman in eight weight classes each.
The U.S. sent sixteen wrestlers to Tokyo -- a full complement of athletes, one per weight class. (Only the Soviet Union had the same number wrestlers.) It was the first time African Americans were on the U.S. Olympic wrestling roster: Bobby Douglas, Charlie Tribble, and Bob Pickens.
Here were the results for Team USA at the '64 Games:
Just one U.S. wrestler earned a medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics: Dan Brand won bronze in freestyle at 191.5 pounds. That was a disappointing difference compared to the 1960 Rome Games, where three freestyle wrestlers on Team USA brought home gold medals: University of Iowa alum Terry McCann, and Oklahoma State wrestlers Shelby Wilson and Doug Blubaugh.
One 1964 Olympic gold medalist wrestler with U.S. ties was Yojiro Uetake, who was the champion at 143 pounds for his native Japan at the Tokyo Games ... while he was on roster at Oklahoma State. Uetake was a three-time NCAA and Big 8 champ at 130 pounds for the Cowboys from 1964-1966, with a perfect 57-0 record.