Frequently Asked Questions
- When will gymnastics be held at the Tokyo Games?
- What is the schedule of gymnastics events?
- How can I watch gymnastics at the Olympics?
- Who is on the U.S. gymnastics team?
- What is the format of the competition?
- How does the scoring work in gymnastics?
When will gymnastics be held at the Tokyo Games?
Artistic gymnastics at the Tokyo Olympics will begin with the men’s qualification round July 23 and run through Aug. 3. All of the competitions will be held at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre.
What is the schedule of gymnastics events?
All times Eastern.
July 23, 9 p.m. — Men’s qualification, Subdivision 1
July 24, 1:30 a.m. — Men’s qualification, Subdivision 2
July 24, 6:30 a.m. — Men’s qualification, Subdivision 3 (includes the United States)
July 24, 9 p.m. — Women’s qualification, Subdivision 1
July 24, 10:55 p.m. — Women’s qualification, Subdivision 2
July 25, 2:10 a.m. — Women’s qualification, Subdivision 3 (includes the United States)
July 25, 4:05 a.m. — Women’s qualification, Subdivision 4
July 25, 7:20 a.m. — Women’s qualification, Subdivision 5
July 26, 6 a.m. — Men’s team final
July 27, 6:45 a.m. — Women’s team final
July 28, 6:15 a.m. — Men’s all-around final
July 29, 6:50 a.m. — Women’s all-around final
Aug. 1, 4 a.m. — Men’s floor final, women’s vault final, men’s pommel horse final, women’s bars final
Aug. 2, 4 a.m. — Men’s rings final, women’s floor final, men’s vault final
Aug. 3, 4 a.m. — Men’s parallel bars final, women’s beam final, men’s high bar final
How can I watch gymnastics at the Olympics?
6 a.m. — Men’s qualifying — Peacock (live)
8 p.m. — Men’s qualifying — NBC
2:10 a.m. — Women’s qualifying — Peacock (live)
7 p.m. — Women’s team competition — NBC
6 a.m. — Men’s team final — Peacock (live)
8 p.m. — Men’s team final — NBC
6:30 a.m. — Women’s team final — Peacock (live)
8 p.m. — Women’s team final — NBC
6 a.m. — Men’s individual all-around — Peacock (live)
8 p.m. — Men’s individual all-around — NBC
6:30 a.m. — Women’s individual all-around — Peacock (live)
8 p.m. — Women’s individual all-around — NBC
4 a.m. — Men’s floor exercise, women’s vault, men’s pommel horse and women’s uneven bars, finals — Peacock (live)
9 p.m. — Women’s vault, final — NBC
11 p.m. — Women’s uneven bars, final — NBC
4 a.m. — Men’s rings, men’s vault and women’s floor exercise, finals — Peacock (live)
8 p.m. — Women’s floor exercise, final — NBC
4 a.m. — Men’s parallel bars, men horizontal bar and women’s balance beam, finals — Peacock (live)
8 p.m. — Men’s horizontal bar and women’s balance beam, finals — NBC
Who is on the U.S. gymnastics team?
Team USA will send six women and five men to Tokyo to compete in artistic gymnastics. The squads at this summer’s Games have an atypical structure. Four gymnasts will make up the teams, and countries could qualify up to two individual athletes who can perform on every apparatus with the opportunity to earn medals, but their scores do not count toward the team total.
Simone Biles will lead the U.S. women, joined by Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles and Grace McCallum. Jade Carey and MyKayla Skinner are the individuals. On the men’s side, Brody Malone, Yul Moldauer, Shane Wiskus and Sam Mikulak make up the four-member team, and Alec Yoder will compete as an individual.
The international governing body for gymnastics already has determined that for the 2024 Olympics it will return to five-member teams, with individual athletes only permitted for countries that do not qualify to send a team.
For the most part, Team USA is made up of first-timers at the Olympics. Biles will be competing in her second Games after a dominant showing in Rio. Mikulak has made the U.S. Olympic team three times. Skinner was an alternate for the 2016 Olympic team. All of the other gymnasts have never competed in an Olympics or been named an alternate.
What is the format of the competition?
Gymnasts begin their competition at the Olympics with the qualification round. Every member of the four-person teams will perform on each apparatus, with the three highest scores counting toward the team total. The qualification round is split into subdivisions — five sessions for the women and three for the men. The top eight teams out of 12 advance to the team final. During the final, three gymnasts from each country compete on each apparatus and all three scores count, which minimizes the room for error.
The individual athletes who are not part of teams also will compete in the qualification round. They will be eligible to qualify for the all-around and individual apparatus finals. The top 24 athletes qualify for the all-around final, and eight gymnasts advance on each apparatus. However, no more than two gymnasts per country can compete in each final, so even if American gymnasts earn the best three scores on an apparatus, only the top two can advance. The athlete who finished ninth would compete in the final instead of the third-place finisher. This frequently happens for countries that excel in this sport.
Scores from the qualification round do not carry over. The team finals and all-around finals are held on separate days. Then the 10 apparatus finals for men and women are spread across three days of competition.
During team and all-around competitions, athletes always rotate through the events in the same sequence. For women, competitions flow in this order: vault, bars, beam, floor. Not all gymnasts begin on vault; if the meet has not concluded, the group on floor moves to vault. For men, rotations go in this order: floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars, high bar.
How does the scoring work in gymnastics?
The Perfect 10 is a relic of the past in elite gymnastics. Since 2006, gymnasts earn scores made up of two components — difficulty and execution, sometimes referred to as a D score and an E score. The difficulty score is open-ended, with more points awarded for harder skills and elements done in combination. Gymnasts also must fulfill certain requirements that factor into their difficulty score. A sample of how Simone Biles’s difficulty score is calculated can be found here on the Balance Beam Situation, a gymnastics blog.
The execution score is still judged out of 10, and that number is added to a gymnast’s difficulty score. If a gymnast’s difficulty score is a 5.7, the highest score she could earn is a 15.700. Scores vary across events and depend on the judging panel, but in general, scores of at least 14.000 should be considered strong marks and anything above 15.000 is excellent. When Biles debuted her Yurchenko double pike vault, she scored a 16.100.
Are the U.S. women favored?
Results can never be guaranteed, but the U.S. women will be heavily favored to win the team gold for the third consecutive Olympics. It would take multiple major mistakes in the final, or an injury or illness that keeps a gymnast out of the competition, for the United States to falter.
Team USA has won both of the world championships held since the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, and in 2019, the team edged Russia by nearly six points. (For reference, a fall incurs a one-point deduction.) And the Americans had a couple of major mistakes during that team final. Three of the four members on the Tokyo Olympic team were part of that world championships squad — Simone Biles, Sunisa Lee and Grace McCallum.
Will this be Simone Biles’s last Olympics?
Biles, 24, once planned for Tokyo to be her final Olympics, but earlier this year, she said she might consider a role as a specialist for the 2024 Games in Paris. Her coaches, Cecile Canqueteau-Landi and Laurent Landi, are from France, so “they’ve kind of guilted me into at least being a specialist and coming back,” Biles said in April.
After the Games, Biles will star in the Gold Over America Tour that will visit U.S. cities between September and November. Biles’s competitive future remains unclear, so there’s a chance her performance in Tokyo will be the last opportunity to marvel at her brilliance.
Which other teams are the medal favorites?
Behind the U.S. women, China and Russia will be favored to finish on the podium. Russia earned the silver medal at the 2019 world championships, and Italy finished third after China had major mistakes, landing in fourth. In 2018, Russia and China finished second and third behind the United States. Those teams finished in the same order — United States, Russia, China — at the 2016 Olympics. The U.S. women won by an eight-point margin in Rio.
Russia, China and Japan have dominated the medal podium on the men’s side. The U.S. men haven’t won a team medal at the world championships or the Olympics since 2014, when they finished third at worlds. Since then, Japan, Russia and China have won 11 of the 12 team medals, with Great Britain earning the silver in 2015. Russia won the most recent world championships, followed by China and then Japan.
Which American women might win an individual medal?
Simone Biles could leave Tokyo with five gold medals — in the team and all-around competitions, as well as on vault, beam and floor. She won all of those events at the world championships in 2019, and at the 2016 Olympics she won four golds and a bronze on beam. Biles will be a favorite to advance to all of those finals as long as she doesn’t have a major mistake during the qualification round. She could become the first woman to win consecutive Olympic all-around titles since Vera Caslavska of Czechoslovakia did so in 1964 and 1968.
The United States will hope to send two women to each individual final. Behind Biles in the all-around, Sunisa Lee and Jordan Chiles will be the top American contenders to join Biles in the final. Lee edged Chiles at the recent Olympic trials and at nationals earlier this summer. When Biles had a few mistakes on the second night of the trials, Lee had a higher single-day all-around total. Biles still finished first because the results were determined by the two-day cumulative scores. According to a database maintained by the Gymternet, Biles (60.565) and Lee (58.166) have earned the world’s highest all-around scores of 2021.
Jade Carey and MyKayla Skinner, the individual U.S. athletes, have strong vaults, and whoever earns the better score in the qualification round probably would join Biles in the final. Gymnasts must perform two vaults with different styles of entry to be eligible for the final. Results are determined by the average score. (In the team and all-around competitions, only one vault is considered.) Biles (15.550) and Skinner (15.233) have earned the world’s top two-vault averages this year.
On bars, Lee will be a contender to win the gold medal. She has an incredibly difficult routine packed with connected release elements. This is the only event in which the United States doesn’t have a second obvious medal contender, which has prompted some criticism related to the strategy of the team selection. Carey had already clinched an individual spot through the apparatus World Cup series, and the selection committee chose Skinner to fill the second individual spot. Carey and Skinner have similar strengths — vault and floor — but it’s impossible for both to advance to a final alongside Biles.
At the 2019 world championships, gymnasts needed at least a 14.800 to medal on bars. The only U.S. women who have scored that high this season are Lee (15.300) and Riley McCusker (15.100). McCusker fell on bars during the second night of the trials — after hitting four straight competitive routines before that — and did not make the Olympic team. Biles has scored a 14.750 on bars this season, so she could make it to the final with a chance of medaling. Chiles has scored a 14.600.
On beam, Biles and Lee are the top American contenders to win a medal, but they will face tough competition from the Chinese gymnasts in Tokyo. Biles scored a 15.133 during the first night of the trials before falling on the second day of competition. Lee earned a 14.733 both nights, and that mark would have been enough for a silver medal at 2019 world championships.
Lee, Chiles and Grace McCallum have similar potential on floor, so the gymnast who competes in the final with Biles probably will depend on who has a better performance in the qualification round. Carey also could be in contention. She hasn’t scored as high as the others this season because she has been dealing with an injury. But in Tokyo, Carey plans to unveil a triple-twisting double layout, a skill no woman has ever performed in competition, and her high level of difficulty would offer a boost. Skinner has difficult skills on floor but also hasn’t scored as high as some of her fellow U.S. Olympians.
Which American men might medal in gymnastics?
Team USA’s medal potential is more limited. Brody Malone, the 2021 national champion, is the best hope to reach the all-around final with the opportunity to medal. Sam Mikulak could be a contender if he hits all six events. Mikulak and Malone should be in medal contention on high bar.
Alec Yoder was selected to this team as an individual because of his ability on pommel horse, and if he hits that routine, he could be in the mix to take home a medal.
Since the 2016 Olympics, the U.S. men have only won two medals at the world championships — Yul Moldauer with a bronze on floor in 2017 and Mikulak with a bronze on high bar in 2018.
Who are the international women to watch in gymnastics?
China’s Tang Xijing won the silver medal and Russia’s Angelina Melnikova earned the bronze in the 2019 world championships all-around competition. Russia’s Viktoria Listunova won this year’s European championships ahead of Melnikova. Listunova has the world’s third-best all-around score this season, behind Simone Biles and Sunisa Lee.
Belgium’s Nina Derwael has an excellent bars routine and will be a contender to win the gold medal on that apparatus. Becky Downie of Great Britain is another one of the world’s best gymnasts on bars, but she was left off the Olympic team.
China’s Ou Yushan and Guan Chenchen, who’s competing as an individual, will be serious medal contenders on beam; they have earned the world’s best two scores of the year on that apparatus. China’s Fan Yilin, also competing as an individual, could earn a medal on bars. She has the second-best score of 2021, trailing only Lee.
Oksana Chusovitina, a 46-year-old who represents Uzbekistan, will be competing at her eighth Games. At her first Olympics in 1992, Chusovitina was part of the unified team of the former Soviet Union that won the team gold.
Who are the international men to watch in gymnastics?
Nikita Nagornyy of Russia probably will vie for an all-around medal after winning the 2019 world championships, and teammate David Belyavskiy could join him in the final. Artur Dalaloyan, another Russian gymnast on the Tokyo team, earned the all-around title at world championships in 2018, but he tore his Achilles’ tendon in April. After a quick recovery, Dalaloyan recently told Olympic Channel that he hopes to perform on four apparatuses to help Russia in the team competition.
Great Britain’s Max Whitlock won the Olympic gold medals at the 2016 Games on floor and pommel horse. Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece is the 2016 Olympic champion and a three-time world champion on rings.
What are the other disciplines of gymnastics?
While artistic gymnastics is the most well-known discipline of the sport, Olympic medals also will be awarded in rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline. Team USA has never won an Olympic medal in either of those disciplines.
For the first time, the United States qualified a full contingent of rhythmic gymnasts — two individuals and a group. Laura Zeng, a 21-year-old who will participate in the individual all-around competition, finished 11th at the 2016 Games. She barely missed qualifying for the final, and the result tied Team USA’s best Olympic finish.
Nicole Ahsinger, a 2016 Olympian, and Aliaksei Shostak will represent Team USA in trampoline in Tokyo. Savannah Vinsant, who placed sixth in 2012, is the only American who has advanced to the trampoline final at the Olympics.