Feature

Sports calendar 2021: the year's biggest events and key dates

When do the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games take place? What's happening with world championships? Here's what to look out for in a huge year of sport.

By ZK Goh ·

A big year in the sporting landscape is upon us, with the postponed Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 the highlight.

Circumstances allowing, the world's best athletes will gather in Japan's capital in July, where baseball/softball makes its Olympic return and karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing will appear on the Olympic programme for the first time.

Due to the delay of the Games, a number of world championships in summer sports originally scheduled for 2021 have been postponed, as the Olympic Games competition or tournament takes pride of place on the calendar.

Here we run through the big events of the year, plus information on final Olympic qualifying events that were put back from 2020.

The dates and locations of all events are subject to change, with the prevailing local conditions dictating whether they are held as scheduled.

Multi-sport events

Olympic Games 2020

Where? Tokyo, Japan (some events will take place in other parts of Japan)

When? 23 July–8 August 2021, although some events will start prior to 23 July.

It's the big one of the year and the event every athlete plans their four-year cycle around. Competition will begin on 21 July in football and softball before the Opening Ceremony two days later.

Outside of Tokyo, football matches will also be played in Saitama, Yokohama, Kashima, Rifu, and Sapporo; baseball/softball will be played entirely in Yokohama and Fukushima; basketball in Saitama; golf in Kawagoe; and the athletics marathons and race walks in Sapporo to avoid high summer temperatures in the capital.

Elsewhere, Tsurigasaki Beach in Chiba Prefecture will host surfing's Olympic debut; sailing can be seen off the island of Enoshima south of Tokyo; track and mountainbike cycling will be held in Izu City; and the cycling road races and individual time trials will be based around the Fuji International Speedway motor racing track.

Outstanding Tokyo 2020 test events will also be held in 2021. You can find out more, along with a full schedule, here.

events

23 Jul - 8 Aug

Tokyo 2020 | Olympic Games

Japan

Paralympic Games 2020

Where? Tokyo, Japan (some events will take place in other parts of Japan)

When? 24 August–5 September 2021

A little over two weeks after the Olympic athletes depart Tokyo, it will be the turn of the Paralympians to shine in Japan.

Summer sports

Aquatics (Artistic Swimming, Diving, Swimming, and Water Polo)

Tokyo 2020 dates

Artistic swimming: 2–7 August 2021

Diving: 25 July–7 August 2021

Swimming: 24 July–1 August 2021

Open water swimming: 4–5 August 2021

Water polo: 24 July–8 August 2021

Other key events

FINA Men's Water Polo Olympic Games Qualification Tournament, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. 21–28 February 2021

FINA Women's Water Polo Olympic Games Qualification Tournament, Trieste, Italy. 17–24 January 2021

FINA Diving World Cup Tokyo (final Olympic qualifier), Tokyo, Japan. 23–28 February 2021

FINA Artistic Swimming Olympic Games Qualification Tournament, Tokyo, Japan. 4–7 March 2021

FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier, Fukuoka, Japan. 29–30 May 2021

United States Olympic Trials, Omaha, Nebraska, USA. 13–20 June 2021

Cut-off date for swimming Olympic qualifying standard: 27 June 2021

FINA World Swimming Championships (25m), Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. 13–18 December 2021

Archery

Tokyo 2020 dates

23–31 July 2021

Other key events

World Archery Final Qualification Tournament, Paris, France. 18–21 July 2021

World Archery Championships, Yankton, South Dakota, USA. 19–26 September 2021

Continental Olympic qualifiers will also take place from March through May.

Athletics

Tokyo 2020 dates

Track and field: 30 July–7 August 2021

Marathons and race walks (Sapporo): 5–8 August 2021

Other key events

United States Olympic Trials, Eugene, Oregon, USA. 18–27 June 2021

Qualification for Tokyo 2020 is partially through the World Athletics Rankings. Ranking cutoff date: 29 June 2021 (31 May 2021 for marathon and men's 50 km walk)

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Badminton

Tokyo 2020 dates

24 July–2 August 2021

Other key events

Qualification for Tokyo 2020 is through the World Rankings. Ranking cutoff date: 25 April 2021 (rankings published 29 April 2021)

BWF World Tour Finals (2020), Bangkok, Thailand. 27–31 January 2021

BWF Badminton World Championships, Huelva, Spain. 29 November–5 December 2021

BWF World Tour Finals (2021), Guangzhou, China. 15–19 December 2021

Baseball/Softball

Tokyo 2020 dates

Baseball: 28 July–7 August 2021

Softball: 21–27 July 2021

Other key events

WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier, Arizona, USA. Dates to be announced.

WBSC Baseball Final Qualifier, Taichung, Chinese Taipei. Dates to be announced.

Basketball (including Basketball 3×3)

Tokyo 2020 dates

3×3: 24–28 July 2021

Basketball: 25 July–8 August 2021

Other key events

FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Graz, Austria. 26–30 May 2021.

FIBA 3×3 Universality Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Budapest, Hungary. Dates to be announced.

FIBA Men's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada; Split, Croatia; Kaunas, Lithuania; Belgrade, Serbia. 22 June–4 July 2021

FIBA Asia Cup, Indonesia. 17–29 August 2021

FIBA AfroBasket, Rwanda. 24 August–5 September 2021

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Boxing

The International Olympic Committee suspended its recognition of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) in 2019. The IOC says: "Due to the suspension of the IOC recognition of AIBA, all aspects of all boxing competitions, including but not limited to any and all qualifying competitions or events for or at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 shall be organised and operated under the authority of the IOC Executive Board. The Executive Board has created a special taskforce with the mandate to organise and ensure the delivery of the qualification events for boxing and the boxing tournament at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and also develop a Tokyo 2020 Qualification System for boxing. The enforcement of the regulations and the qualification criteria will be the responsibility of the Boxing Task Force, the respective national federations of the sport and the NOCs in the fields of their respective responsibilities."

Tokyo 2020 dates

24 July–8 August 2021

Other key events

Boxing European Olympic Qualification Event, London, Great Britain. Originally suspended after three days of competition in March 2020 due to coronavirus measures, to be completed 22-26 April 2021.

Boxing Americas Olympic Qualification Event – originally scheduled to take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina; due to take place in May 2021.

Boxing World Olympic Qualification Event – originally scheduled to take place in Paris, France; due to take place in June 2021.

All three events will be streamed live on Olympic Channel. You can visit the Olympic Channel's event page for the qualification events, or read our preview and explainer.

Canoe/Kayak (Slalom and Sprint)

Tokyo 2020 dates

Slalom: 25–29 July 2021

Sprint: 2–7 August 2021

Other key events

ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships, Copenhagen, Denmark. 16–19 September 2021

ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships, Bratislava, Slovakia. 21–26 September 2021

Continental Olympic qualifiers will take place from February through May.

Cycling – BMX (Freestyle and Racing)

Tokyo 2020 dates

Freestyle: 31 July–1 August 2021

Racing: 29–30 July 2021

Other key events

UCI BMX World Championships, Papendal, Netherlands. 17–22 August 2021

Qualification for Tokyo 2020 is partially through the UCI Olympic BMX Rankings, with cutoff dates to be announced depending on the 2021 World Cup schedules.

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Cycling – Mountain Bike

Tokyo 2020 dates

26–27 July 2021

Other key events

UCI Mountain Bike World Championships (Cross-country), Val di Sole, Italy. 25–29 August 2021

Qualification for Tokyo 2020 is partially through the UCI Olympic Mountain Bike Rankings, with cutoff dates to be announced depending on the 2021 World Cup schedules.

Cycling – Road

Tokyo 2020 dates

24–28 July 2021

Other key events

Giro d'Italia, Italy. 8-30 May 2021

Tour de France, France. 26 June-18 July 2021

Vuelta a España, Spain. 14 August-5 September 2021

UCI Road Cycling World Championships, Flanders, Belgium. 19–26 September 2021

Cycling – Track

Tokyo 2020 dates

2–8 August 2021

Other key events

UCI Track Cycling World Championships, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. 13–17 October 2021

Equestrian (Dressage, Eventing, and Jumping)

Tokyo 2020 dates

Dressage: 24–28 July 2021

Eventing: 30 July–2 August 2021

Jumping: 3–7 August 2021

Fencing

Tokyo 2020 dates

24 July–1 August 2021

Other key events

FIE Olympic Zone Qualifying Events, Seoul, Republic of Korea; Cairo, Egypt; Panama City, Panama; Madrid, Spain. 15–30 April 2021

Additionally, qualification for Tokyo 2020 is partially through the FIE Official Rankings. Ranking cutoff date: 5 April 2021

FIE World Fencing Championships, date and location to be announced.

At Tokyo 2020, all twelve events on the fencing programme (individual and team, men's and women's, in all three weapons) will be held for the first time at an Olympic Games. Previously, only two team events would be held for both men and women, with one weapon missing out on rotation every Games.

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Football

Tokyo 2020 dates

21 July–7 August 2020

Other key events

Various Olympic qualifying tournaments will be held in both men's and women's football in February and March 2021.

UEFA European Championships 2020, various countries. 11 June–11 July 2021

CONMEBOL Copa América 2020, Argentina and Colombia. 11 June–10 July 2021

Golf

Tokyo 2020 dates

Men's: 29 July–1 August 2021

Women's: 4–7 August 2021

Other key events

ANA Inspiration, Mission Hills, California, USA. 1–4 April 2021

The Masters, Augusta, Georgia, USA. 8–11 April 2021

PGA Championship, Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA. 20–23 May 2021

US Open, Torrey Pines, California, USA. 17–20 June 2021

Women's PGA Championship, Atlanta Athletic Club, Georgia, USA. 24–27 June 2021

Open Championship, Royal St George's, Sandwich, England, UK. 15–18 July 2021

Women's British Open, Carnoustie, Scotland, UK. 19–22 August 2021

Qualification for Tokyo 2020 is through the Official World Golf Rankings. Ranking cutoff date: 21 June 2021 (men), 28 June 2021 (women)

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Gymnastics (Artistic, Rhythmic, and Trampoline)

Tokyo 2020 dates

Artistic: 24 July–3 August 2021

Rhythmic: 6–8 August 2021

Trampoline: 30–31 July 2021

Other key events

FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships, Kitakyushu, Japan. 18–24 October 2021

FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships, Kitakyushu, Japan. 27–31 October 2021

FIG Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships, Baku, Azerbaijan. 11–14 November 2021

Continental championships in 2021 will also double as Olympic qualification events. For the first time ever, world championships in both artistic and rhythmic gymnastics will be held in the same city in the same year.

Handball

Tokyo 2020 dates

24 July–8 August 2021

Other key events

IHF World Men's Handball Championship, Egypt. 13–31 January 2021

IHF Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournaments, Spain; Hungary; Montenegro. 19–21 March 2021

IHF Men's Olympic Qualification Tournaments, Norway; France; Germany. 12–14 March 2021

IHF World Women's Handball Championship, Spain. 2–19 December 2021

Hockey

Tokyo 2020 dates

24 July–6 August 2021

Other key events

FIH Pro League. 11 January 2020–30 May 2021

Judo

Tokyo 2020 dates

24–31 July 2021

Other key events

IJF World Judo Championships, dates and location to be confirmed by IJF. Hungarian media have reported the event will start on 3 June in Budapest.

Qualification for Tokyo 2020 is through the IJF World Rankings. Ranking cutoff date: 28 June 2021

Karate

Tokyo 2020 dates

5–7 August 2021

Other key events

WKF Karate Tokyo 2020 Qualification Tournament, Paris, France. 11–13 June 2021

There is also qualification for Tokyo 2020 through the WKF Olympic Standing List. Ranking cutoff date: 18 March 2021

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Modern Pentathlon

Tokyo 2020 dates

5–7 August 2021

Other key events

UIPM Pentathlon World Championships, Minsk, Belarus. 7–13 June 2021

The World Championships will also serve as the final Olympic qualifier in the sport.

Tokyo 2020 qualification will partially happen through the UIPM Pentathlon World Ranking. Ranking cutoff date: 14 June 2021

Rowing

Tokyo 2020 dates

23–30 July 2021

Other key events

FISA Final Olympic Qualification Regatta, Lucerne, Switzerland. 16–18 May 2021

FISA World Rowing Championships, Shanghai, China. 17–24 October 2021

Rugby Sevens

Tokyo 2020 dates

26–31 July 2021

Other key events

World Rugby Olympic Repechage Tournament (final qualification tournament), dates and location to be announced.

Sailing

Tokyo 2020 dates

25 July–4 August 2021

Other key events

African, Asian, and European qualifying events will take place from February through May 2021.

36th America's Cup, Auckland, New Zealand. 6–21 March 2021

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Shooting

Tokyo 2020 dates

24 July–2 August 2021

Other key events

European Shooting Championships 10m, Lohja, Finland. 26 February–8 March 2021 (Olympic qualifier)

European Shotgun Championships and European Shooting Championships 25m/50m, Osijek, Croatia. 23 May–6 June 2021 (Olympic qualifier)

One spot in each individual event will be allocated to an NOC through the ISSF's World Olympic Rankings. Ranking cutoff date: to be confirmed after World Cup schedule announced.

Skateboarding (Park and Street)

Tokyo 2020 dates

Park: 4–5 August 2021

Street: 25–26 July 2021

Other key events

The 2021 World Championships will act as direct Olympic qualification events for Tokyo 2020. Dates and locations to be announced.

Remaining spots will be allocated through the World Skate Olympic Rankings. Ranking cutoff date: 30 June 2021

Sport Climbing

Tokyo 2020 dates

2–5 August 2021

Other key events

IFSC Climbing World Championships, Moscow, Russia. 15–22 September 2021

Surfing

Tokyo 2020 dates

25–28 July 2021, with a window until 1 August 2021 in case of poor weather or surf conditions

Other key events

ISA World Surfing Games, El Sunzal and La Bocana, El Salvador. 8–16 May 2021 (final Olympic qualifier)

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Table Tennis

Tokyo 2020 dates

24 July–6 August 2021

Other key events

ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals 2021, USA. Exact location and dates to be announced.

ITTF World Olympic Singles Qualification Event. Doha, Qatar. 16–19 March 2021

Continental qualification events will also be held in singles and mixed doubles in locations and dates to be confirmed.

Taekwondo

Tokyo 2020 dates

24–27 July 2021

Other key events

European and Asian continental Olympic qualifiers will be held from January onwards.

World Taekwondo Championships. Dates and location to be announced.

Tennis

Tokyo 2020 dates

24 July–1 August 2021

Other key events

Australian Open, Melbourne, Australia. 8–21 February 2021

ITF Billie Jean King Cup Finals, Budapest, Hungary. 13–18 April 2021

French Open, Paris, France. 23 May–6 June 2021

Wimbledon, London, England, UK. 28 June–11 July 2021

US Open, New York, USA. 30 August–12 September 2021

WTA Finals, Shenzhen, China. Dates to be announced.

ATP Finals, Turin, Italy. 14–21 November 2021

ITF Davis Cup Finals, Madrid, Spain. 22–28 November 2021

ATP and WTA World Rankings Olympic qualification cutoff date: 7 June 2021

Players must make themselves available for Fed Cup or Davis Cup selection (including in qualifiers or zonal events) at least twice between 2016 and 2020 to be eligible to play at Tokyo 2020, with the exception of any cancelled ties due to Covid-19.

Triathlon

Tokyo 2020 dates

26–31 July 2021

Dates for Olympic qualification events and rankings cut-offs to be confirmed.

Volleyball (Beach and Indoor)

Tokyo 2020 dates

Beach: 24 July–7 August 2021

Volleyball: 24 July–8 August 2021

Other key events

Final beach volleyball qualifiers will be decided through each continent's Continental Cup Final, scheduled from 21–27 June 2021.

Some spots will be allocated through the FIVB Beach Volleyball Olympic Rankings. Ranking cutoff date: 13 June 2021

Weightlifting

Tokyo 2020 dates

24 July–4 August 2021

Other key events

Qualification for Tokyo 2020 is through the IWF World Rankings. Ranking cutoff date: 30 April 2021

IWF World Weightlifting Championships, Lima, Peru. November 2021 – exact dates to be confirmed.

Wrestling

Tokyo 2020 dates

1–7 August 2021

Other key events

UWW World Olympic Games Qualifier, Sofia, Bulgaria. 29 April–2 May 2021

Continental qualification events will also be held in March.

UWW World Wrestling Championships, Oslo, Norway. 2–10 October 2021

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Winter sports

Alpine Skiing

Key events

FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. 7–21 February 2021

FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Finals, Lenzerheide, Switzerland. 17–21 March 2021

Biathlon

Key events

IBU Biathlon World Championships, Pokljuka, Slovakia. 9–21 February 2021

Bobsleigh (including Skeleton)

Key events

IBSF World Championships, Altenberg, Germany. 5–14 February 2021

IBSF World Cup finals. Dates and location to be announced.

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Cross-Country Skiing

FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, Oberstdorf, Germany. 22 February–7 March 2021

Curling

Key events

World Women's Curling Championship, Schaffhausen, Switzerland. 20–28 March 2021

World Men's Curling Championship, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 3–11 April 2021

World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship, location to be announced. 24 April–1 May 2021

Figure Skating

Key events

ISU World Figure Skating Championships, Stockholm, Sweden. 22–28 March 2021

Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding

FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships. Originally due to be held in Zhangjiakou, China, from 18–28 February 2021; cancelled and re-located to the following locations:

Ski cross and snowboard cross. Idre, Sweden. 9–13 February 2021

Snowboard parallel giant slalom and parallel slalom. Rogla, Slovenia. 1–2 March 2021

Freestyle skiing aerials and moguls. Almaty, Kazakhstan. 8–11 March 2021

Freeski and snowboard big air, halfpipe, and slopestyle. Aspen, Colorado, USA. 10–16 March 2021

Ice Hockey

Key events

IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship, Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. 7–17 April 2021

IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, Riga, Latvia. 21 May–6 June 2021. Originally due to be co-hosted by Belarus, Minsk was stripped of hosting responsibilities in January.

Luge

Key events

FIL World Championships, Königsee, Germany. 5–7 February 2021

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Nordic Combined

Key events

FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, Oberstdorf, Germany. 22 February–7 March 2021

Short Track Speed Skating

Key events

ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships, Dordrecht, Netherlands. 5–7 March 2021

Ski Jumping

Key events

69th Four Hills Tournament, Austria and Germany. 29 December 2020–6 January 2021

FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, Oberstdorf, Germany. 22 February–7 March 2021

Speed skating

Key events

ISU World Speed Skating Championships, Heerenveen, Netherlands. 11–14 February 2021

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Don't forget to follow Olympic Channel throughout the year for the latest news and highlights from your favourite sports, as well as extensive coverage from Tokyo 2020.