Olympics 2021: Can Team GB deliver major medal haul amid state of emergency in Tokyo?

The Games are due to take place in unusual conditions in Japan due to rising coronavirus rates in the Japanese capital

Pa Sport Staff
Friday 09 July 2021 08:18
Tokyo Olympics cap crowds at 10,000

Team GB will target over 50 medals amid unprecedented circumstances when the Tokyo Olympics get under way later this month.

Britain’s 376-strong squad is its biggest for an overseas Games, and women will outnumber men in the team for the first time.

But with the Games due to take place amid a state of emergency due to rising coronavirus rates in the Japanese capital, we run the rule over what they can expect.

What are the implications of the state of emergency?

A security guard wearing a face mask guards the National Stadium in Tokyo

The Japanese government has pulled back on a previous decision to allow some fans into Olympic venues. All events in the Tokyo area will now take place in empty stadia, with the exception of a handful of VIPS and media. Athletes have already been warned that they risk disqualification or even deportation if they stray from strict coronavirus bubbles during their stay in the Athletes’ Village.

What are Britain’s expectations at the Games?

Members of Team GB show off their gold medals

Funding body UK Sport has strayed from setting a specific medal target given the lack of recent international competition. However, there is a general expectation that the team will be strong enough to surpass the 51 medals secured in Beijing in 2008. Matching the 67 won in Rio five years ago seems like a stretch given the relative downturn in previously strong medal sports like cycling and gymnastics.

Who are Britain’s best gold medal bets?

Dina Asher-Smith

Adam Peaty appears almost unbeaten in the men’s 100 metre breaststroke but Britain’s other gold medal hopes are less clear-cut. Dina Asher-Smith stands a strong chance in the women’s 200 metres, world taekwondo champions Jade Jones, Bianca Walkden and Bradly Sinden start as favourites, while sharpshooters Seonaid McIntosh and Matt Coward-Holley are also good bets.

Who are the other stars to watch?

Thirteen-year-old Sky Brown will become Britain’s youngest summer Olympian as she stars in skateboard’s debut at the Games. Another new sport, sport-climbing, sees double World Cup season winner Shauna Coxsey among the leading hopefuls. Inevitably, attention will turn to the Velodrome where golden couple Jason and Laura Kenny will be looking to continue to add to their already record-breaking medal hauls.