Olympic soccer is a big deal in the women’s game, ranking second in prestige and importance to the World Cup. In men’s circles, not so much. It’s an age-restrictive tournament that FIFA, the sport’s international governing body, does not take seriously and doesn’t want to grow. (More on that later.)

For those reasons, under any circumstances, U.S. sports fans would be better off paying greater attention to the 12-nation women’s competition than the 16-team men’s. There’s no choice this summer — or four of the past five Olympic summers — because the U.S. men failed to qualify again. Hence, all of U.S. soccer’s attention will turn to the world champion women’s team, which is seeking a fifth gold medal since the introduction of women’s soccer at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Here’s what to know about soccer at the Tokyo Olympics.

What to know

  • When are the men’s and women’s Olympic soccer tournaments?
  • What is the Olympic soccer format?
  • Is VAR used in the Olympics?
  • Who is on the U.S. women’s soccer team?
  • Can anyone beat the U.S. women?
  • Why is there an age limit for male players at the Olympics?