The match schedule for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic rugby sevens competition has been confirmed by Tokyo 2020 and World Rugby with 19 days to go until kick-off as excitement builds towards the sport’s second appearance at the Games.
Players, teams and fans around the world can now finalise their preparations and look forward to six days of intense, action-packed competition at Tokyo Stadium, with matches played during two competition sessions per day.
The tournament will get off to a flying start with the highly anticipated encounter between Rio 2016 Olympic champions Fiji and hosts Japan in the opening match of the men’s competition at 09:00 local time (GMT+9) on 26 July.
Another highlight in the men’s schedule sees antipodean rivals New Zealand and Australia take to the pitch in the final match in Pool A on 27 July.
The men’s competition will culminate with the gold medal match at 18:00 local time on 28 July.
The women’s competition gets underway on 29 July when France face Fiji. The 10,000 fans permitted inside Tokyo Stadium will be looking forward to the fourth match of the day when Japan start their campaign against reigning Olympic champions Australia.
The women’s gold medal match will take place at 18:00 local time on 31 July, as part of ‘Super Saturday’ – traditionally a highlight of the Games.
In June, the 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams were allocated to three pools of four, according to rankings based upon performances in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and other World Rugby sanctioned tournaments over the past two years.
As the countdown to Tokyo gathers pace, many teams have already announced their squads with a number of players that have starred in Rugby World Cups in the 15s game selected to try and attain Olympic glory for their countries in Tokyo.
Following a successful test event involving members of the Japan national teams in April, preparations are on track for a world-class tournament at Tokyo Stadium, which proved to be an excellent host venue during Rugby World Cup 2019.
To ensure teams are as best prepared as possible to perform on the greatest sporting stage of all, World Rugby has invested US$4 million into Olympic qualified unions’ sevens programmes and towards the costs of hosting a number of high-performance preparation events over the past three months.
World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “With today’s confirmation of the match schedule we move an important step closer to the highly anticipated kick-off for Olympic rugby sevens in Tokyo. Players and teams can now fine-tune their preparations for every match, while fans around the globe can mark their calendars and set their alarm clocks to cheer on their teams.
“Rugby sevens has captured the imaginations of millions of people around the world, attracting an estimated 30 million new fans on Olympic debut at Rio 2016. With just 19 days to go, we cannot wait for rugby sevens to once again step on to the Olympic stage and thrill global audiences with its fast-paced, highly skilful and action-packed style of sporting entertainment.”
Great Britain Women’s Sevens co-captain Abbie Brown said: “Just like everyone in the sporting world, we have waited so long for Tokyo to happen, so now it’s just around the corner you can really tell how special it’s going to be and how excited everyone is to get out there and play. As a squad we have spoken about carving the path for future rugby players in Great Britain so having rugby as part of the biggest multi-sport event is a great opportunity to showcase not only why we have so much love and passion for the game but also to inspire girls and boys to pick up a ball and give it a go.”
USA Men’s Sevens captain Madison Hughes said: "We're so excited to get to Tokyo, it's felt far away for a long time so it's fantastic to be in this final stretch and we can't wait to get back on the field and get into the competition. The Olympics has taken sevens to a whole new level over the years, especially after a great debut in Rio. I think Tokyo will have another massive impact, and as we look ahead to the next few years, it can deliver a big jump for sevens all over the world."
Australian Women’s Sevens co-captain Sharni Williams said: ““It’s amazing to be here five years after Rio, never did I think I would get an opportunity to represent my country, let alone at a second Olympics. The unknown has been hard to navigate but we now have the Olympics firmly in our sights.”
Canada Women’s Captain Ghislaine Landry said: “The opportunity to go to another Olympic Games with this team is very exciting. For the last five years, we've been training hard and hunting down podium finishes. I’m proud of our team and I know we are heading into the Games with a ton of talent and huge potential. We can’t wait to show Canada, and the world, how fast and exciting rugby sevens is.”
Canada Men’s co-captain Nathan Hirayama said: “It’s an honour to compete for Canada at Tokyo 2020. We travel the world representing Canada but this will be my first Olympic Games and we’re excited to get to Tokyo. It’s been an unprecedented year but we’ve been training hard and look forward to competing and showcasing Sevens on such a massive stage.”
Rugby sevens is expected to be one of the most keenly awaited events of the Tokyo Games, following the outstanding success of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, which captured the nation’s imagination with record-breaking broadcast audiences creating huge numbers of new rugby fans across Japan and Asia.