COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The United States Olympic Committee joins the global Olympic Movement on July 24 in celebrating the two-year countdown to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. To commemorate the day, nearly a dozen Team USA athletes will join together with area youth in Los Angeles – host of the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games – for a youth sport clinic and fan meet-and-greet.
In addition, the USOC is sharing thoughts from some of the top U.S. 2020 Olympic hopefuls, distributing sport storylines, launching a digital series tabbed “Tokyo 2020 Tuesday” and promoting #TokyoOlympics across all Team USA social platforms.
With the Opening Ceremony to be held at Tokyo National Stadium on July 24, 2020, Tokyo will be hosting the Summer Games for the first time in 56 years. More than 11,000 athletes from 206 nations are expected to participate in 33 sports and 50 disciplines, including the addition of four new sports and the reinstatement of baseball / softball.
2 Years Out In Events
Seven-time Olympic swimming medalist Dana Vollmer, Olympic water polo champions Ashleigh Johnson and Maggie Steffens, and 2016 rugby Olympian Carlin Isles will headline celebrations of the two-year countdown on July 24 in Los Angeles. The athletes will share their inspirational journeys with approximately 100 local youth before leading them through warmups, a basketball clinic and other games at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center Plaza in the Little Tokyo Historic District, located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.
The event – which runs from 3-5 p.m. – will feature a DJ and the Team USA Social Truck presented by OREO, along with several community leaders, including representatives from LA 2028. Following the clinic, Team USA athletes will partake in a fan meet-and-greet before attending the LA Sparks game.
Just south of Los Angeles, two-year countdown Olympic action is taking place in Anaheim as the U.S. women’s national volleyball team hosts the Japanese women’s team, and in Irvine, with USA Swimming’s Phillips 66 National Championships. The women’s volleyball team will welcome their counterparts from the 2020 Olympic host country for a joint training camp at the American Sports Centers from July 22-29. The two national teams will hold an informal scrimmage on July 24 at 10:30 a.m. PT that is open to the media, followed by a friendly exhibition match open to the public on July 27 with first serve at 7 p.m. PT at Tustin High School as part of the two-year out celebration.
The 2018 Team USA Summer Champions Series, presented by Xfinity, continues with USA Swimming’s Phillips 66 National Championships July 25-29. More than 900 athletes, including Olympic champions Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel and Caeleb Dressel will compete in the biggest U.S. swim meet of the season, which serves as a qualifier for the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo and the 2019 FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea. The Team USA Social Truck will be onsite throughout the event for more athlete meet-and-greets and autograph signings.
Several additional Team USA summer sports will be in action around the globe during the two-year out window, including:
- Muller Anniversary Games (track and field): July 21-22
- USA National Team Minicamp (men’s basketball): July 25-29
- FIVB Tokyo (beach volleyball): July 25-29
- ITU World Triathlon Edmonton: July 27-29
- IFSC Climbing World Cup: July 27-28
- 2018 U.S. Classic (gymnastics): July 27-28
- Zagreb Grand Prix (judo): July 27-29
2 Years Out In Tokyo
The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will jointly host a countdown event on July 24 in Tokyo at Tokyo Skytree Town. The celebration will be hosted by Fujio Mitarai, Honorary President of Tokyo 2020; Yoshiro Mori, President of Tokyo 2020; and Yuriko Koike, the Governor of Tokyo. Among the guests will be Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who led the successful bid to bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games back to the United States, resulting in the 2028 Games in Los Angeles. Garcetti will join the Tokyo organizers, Japanese athletes, the 2020 mascots and other guests at a ceremony featuring guest speakers, presentations, a paper lantern parade, and celebration dances. For more information, click here.
A robust guide of athlete and sport storylines likely to unfold over the next two years are available at TeamUSA.org/media, as well as qualification and selection procedures and key dates for each sport. Below is a sampling of Team USA’s top storylines heading into Tokyo.
Olympic Inclusion: The International Olympic Committee announced the addition of five sports to the 2020 Olympic program in August 2016. Karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing will all be making their debuts in Tokyo, with a key focus on youth, an element central to the 2020 Games. Meanwhile, baseball/softball return to the Games. Baseball was contested at the Games from 1992-2008, during which the U.S. won three medals. Softball was on the program from 1996-2008 with the U.S. winning four golds and one silver.
2020 Encore: Gymnast Simone Biles stole the show at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, winning five medals, including four golds. After taking time off following her Olympic success, Biles will return to the mat for the first time at the U.S. Classic in Columbus, Ohio, on July 28. Already the most decorated U.S. gymnast in world championships history, she hopes to become the country’s most decorated Olympic gymnast, trailing only Shannon Miller (seven).
Lucky Number Seven: Six-time U.S. Olympic shotgun athlete Kim Rhode is the only woman from any nation to win six Olympic medals (three golds, one silver, two bronzes) across six Games. After earning bronze in Rio in 2016, Rhode is looking like a strong contender to return to the top of the podium in Tokyo. This past April, she broke her own world record in skeet at a world cup in Changwon, South Korea, and recently won the world cup in Tucson, Arizona, marking her 21st career world cup gold medal.
Changing Lanes: A two-time world champion in triathlon, Gwen Jorgensen made history at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 when she won the United States’ first Olympic gold in the sport. After giving birth to her first child, Stanley, in August 2017, Jorgensen returned but this time to a different sport: track and field. The 32-year-old has her sights set on winning gold in the marathon in Tokyo and has already competed at a handful of track and field races, finishing seventh in the 10-kilometer at USATF Outdoor Championships and fifth in the 10K at the AJC PeachTree Road Race.
A number of U.S. Olympic hopefuls have Japanese ancestry or other connections to the 2020 host country:
- Jay Litherland (swimming): Born in Osaka, Japan, Litherland and his triplet brothers, Mick and Kevin, are fluent in Japanese and hold citizenship in the U.S., Japan and New Zealand. Litherland is a 2016 Olympian and has his sights set on Tokyo.
- Michael Norman (track and field): Norman – whose mother is Japanese and moved to the U.S. in the 1990s – is the NCAA 400-meter indoor and outdoor champion with sights set on representing U.S. at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
- Daniel Roy (swimming): Roy – who is of Japanese descent – has family living in Tokyo and met his grandparents for the first time during a world cup trip. Roy is a member of the U.S. Swimming Junior National Team and is a 2020 Olympic hopeful.
- Erik and Kawika Shoji (volleyball): The Shoji brothers’ paternal grandparents are both Japanese and the brothers compete in Japan frequently for U.S. national team matches. They won the bronze medal in Rio and will look to build on that heading into Tokyo.
- Several Team USA softball players play professionally in Japan including Monica Abbott, Ali Aguilar – whose grandmother was born in Japan, Keilani Ricketts and Kirsti Merritt.
Match Maker: Here’s a snapshot of Team USA summer-sport couples:
- 2016 Olympic diving silver medalist Michael Hixon is dating Canadian Olympic bronze medalist in swimming, Kennedy Goss. They both attended Indiana University.
- In 2014, two-time Olympian and Olympic soccer champion Alex Morgan married Servando Carrasco, who plays midfielder for the LA Galaxy.
- Clayton Murphy, who is the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist in the 800-meter, is engaged to Ariana Washington, 2016 Olympic sprinter. The two met at the Rio Games during a game of Uno and a date is not set.
- Two-time Olympian and three-time Olympic triple-jump medalist Will Claye proposed to 2008 Olympian Queen Harrison after winning the silver medal at the 2016 Games.
- Soccer couple Sydney Leroux-Dwyer (2012 Olympic champion) and Dom Dwyer (member of the U.S men’s national team in 2017) married in 2015 and have a 22-month-old son, Cassius.
G.O.A.T.: Allyson Felix is the most decorated female track and field athlete in history as a nine-time Olympic medalist – including six gold – and 16 career IAAF World Championship medals. With more Olympic medals in Tokyo, she could tie or surpass U.S. legend Carl Lewis, who holds 10 Olympic medals, and become the most decorated U.S. track and field athlete of all time.
Balanced Games: The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be the most gender-balanced Olympics in history. Women will comprise 48.8 percent of the total number of competitors, up from 46.5 percent in 2016 and 44.2 percent in 2012. Women’s events have been added in boxing, canoe/kayak and rowing. Men and women will also compete in mixed gender events in archery, judo, sailing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, track and field, and triathlon.
Three-peat: The U.S. women’s water polo team became the first team to ever win back-to-back Olympic gold medals in women's water polo and will be looking for a three-peat in 2020. Ashleigh Johnson – who is considered the best goalie in the world – will look to anchor the team in Tokyo. The 23-year-old holds camps and clinics for children of color in her hometown to help grow the sport she loves.
Great Eight: The U.S. women’s eight rowing team won its third straight Olympic gold medal in Rio, joining Romania as the only countries ever to win three straight Olympic golds in the event. Already the only country with four total golds in the event, the U.S. would become the first to win four Olympic titles in a row with success in Tokyo. But it will be an uphill battle; after claiming every world championship gold from 2006-2015, the U.S. finished fourth in 2017 as the team rebuilds.
20/20 Focus: The U.S. women’s soccer team had medaled at every Games since the debut of women’s soccer in 1996 – striking gold three times and silver once – until Rio, where the reigning Women’s World Cup champion shockingly fell to Sweden on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals. With a 25-3-2 record since the 2016 Games, a team comprised of veterans and rising stars has its sights set for redemption in Tokyo.
Record Run: At the Olympic Games Rio 2016, Katie Ledecky joined Missy Franklin and Amy Van Dyken as the only American women to win four swimming gold medals at a single Games. She topped the podium in the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyle, as well as the 800 free relay, and added silver in the 400 free relay. In 2020, Ledecky would potentially have even more medal opportunities, as the women’s 1500 free will make its Olympic Games debut. She has held the world record in the event since 2013.
On the Rise: Swimmer Caeleb Dressel won a pair of gold medals on relays at the Rio Games, and he is poised for an Olympic breakout in Tokyo after a huge showing at the 2017 FINA World Championships. In Budapest, Dressel joined Michael Phelps as the only swimmers to win seven gold medals at a single FINA World Championships. He won individual gold in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle and 100m butterfly and added four relay medals. Dressel, who grew up on a farm in rural Florida with a lengthy commute to his training sessions, concluded his remarkable career at the University of Florida last spring when he became the first swimmer to break 18 seconds in the short-course 50-yard free and 40 seconds in the 100y free.
More than Swimming: Three-time Olympian, gold medalist and 2016 women’s team co-captain Allison Schmitt returned to competition in April 2018 for the first time since the Rio Games with an important message to share. After struggling with depression following her gold-medal performance at the London Games in 2012, Schmitt sought help beginning in 2015 and has emerged as a mental-health advocate. She is working toward a social work degree at Arizona State University with the aim of helping others. “I can use that voice to spread awareness for mental health, that's exactly what I want to do,” Schmitt said.
Here To Stay: Kyle Snyder (men’s freestyle, 97 kg.) and Helen Maroulis (women’s freestyle, 53 kg.) had breakout performances at the Rio Games, both capturing the gold medal in their respective disciplines for Team USA. Snyder became the youngest U.S. Olympic champion in wrestling at age 20, while Maroulis became the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic wrestling medal. Since their breakout performances on the world stage, they have continued to raise the bar, earning world champions honors in 2017 and look to continue their dominance at the Tokyo Games.
Multitasking: Adam Coon, the massive heavyweight wrestler who recently finished his college career at Michigan, is determined to make the 2020 Tokyo team in both freestyle and Greco-Roman, a feat last achieved by Chris Taylor at the 1972 Games in Munich. Coon had a great year in 2018, earning a spot on the 2018 U.S. Greco-Roman World Team and placing second in the men’s freestyle trials behind world championship medalist Nick Gwiazdowski.
Parents of Team USA: A sampling of the moms and dads who compete for Team USA:
- Nia Ali (track and field): mother to son Titus (3), who watched his mom win silver in the 110-meter hurdles at the Rio Games.
- David Boudia (diving): father to two girls, Dakota (4) and Mila (11 months). Boudia is a three-time Olympian (2008, 2012, 2016) and four-time Olympic medalist (1 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze).
- Jordan Burroughs (wrestling): father to Beacon (4) and Ora (2). Burroughs is a two-time Olympian (2012, 2016) and an Olympic medalist (1 gold).
- Stephen Curry (basketball): father to two girls, Riley (6) and Ryan (3) and newborn son, Cannon (July 4). Curry is three-time NBA champion and two-time league MVP.
- Sydney Leroux-Dwyer (soccer): mother to son Cassius (22 months). Leroux-Dwyer won gold at the London Games in 2012.
- Matt Grevers (swimming): father to daughter Skylar (2). The two-time Olympian (2008, 2012) and six-time Olympic medalist (4 gold, 2 silver) looks to earn a spot on the 2020 team after just missing the 2016 Olympic squad.
- Gwen Jorgensen (triathlon/track and field): mother to son Stanley (11 months). Jorgensen won the first U.S. gold in triathlon at the 2016 Games and has now shifted her focus to marathon after the birth of her son.
- LeBron James (basketball): father to two sons, LeBron Jr. (13) and Bryce (11), and a daughter, Zhuri (3). James is a three-time Olympian (2004, 2008, 2012), three-time Olympic medalist (2 gold, 1 bronze) and a three-time NBA champion.
- Kim Rhode (shooting): mother to son Carter (5). The six-time Olympic medalist – the only woman to medal at six consecutive Games – was pregnant with Carter when she won the gold medal in skeet at the 2012 Games in London.
- Dana Vollmer (swimming): mother to two sons, Arlen (3) and Ryker (1). Volmer is a three-time Olympian (2004, 2012, 2016) and seven-time Olympic medalist (5 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze).
- Kerri Walsh Jennings (beach volleyball): mother to two boys, Joseph (9) and Sundance (8), and daughter, Scout (5). Walsh Jennings is a five-time Olympian (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016) and four-time Olympic medalist (3 gold, 1 bronze).
- Serena Williams (tennis): mother to 10-month-old daughter, Alexis. Williams is a four-time Olympian (2000, 2000, 2012, 2016), four-time Olympic champion and a 23-time grand slam winner.
- Mariel Zagunis (fencing): mother to daughter Sunday (9 months). Zagunis is four-time Olympian (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016) and four-time Olympic medalist (2 gold, 2 bronze).
Flash: The race for the fastest man in the world is already underway as young Olympic hopefuls Ronnie Baker, Christian Coleman and Noah Lyles vie for the top spot in the 2018 Diamond League. Leading the pack in the 100-meter, Baker has earned four Diamond League wins in the event and finished a close second in his remaining two races. Currently undefeated with four wins in the 200, Lyles stole a win from Baker in the 100 at the event in Des Moines, Iowa. After breaking the world indoor record in the 60-meter dash this spring, Coleman has placed in the top four at all three of his Diamond League races this season, most recently taking the top spot over both Baker and Lyles at the Rabat meeting. All three men will look to claim the 100-meter title in the post-Bolt era at the Tokyo Games.
Day At The Beach: U.S. women’s beach volleyball is heating up with multiple contenders hoping to earn a spot at the Tokyo Games. Two-time Olympic medalist April Ross opted out of continuing her partnership with beach volleyball queen Keri Walsh Jennings, pairing with Alexandra Klineman on the FIVB Beach World Tour. The duo has competed in five events this circuit with a win in The Hauge, Netherlands. Teammates Summer Ross and Sara Hughes have also made their mark on the tour, securing two podium finishes in nine competitions. Three-time Olympic champion Walsh Jennings has carved her own path this season, creating her own tour to coincide with FIVB play. She continues to train and compete with 2008 Olympian Nicole Branagh as she looks to qualify for her sixth Olympic Games.
Post Recovery: Two-time BMX cycling Olympian and Olympic silver medalist Alise Post-Willoughby met her future husband, Sam Willoughby, on the track. Sam won Olympic silver in 2012, while Alise got hers in 2016. But 15 months before their wedding, Sam – an Australian native – had a freak training accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. Undeterred, he dedicated every day to rehabilitation to fulfil his promise: walk down the aisle on their wedding day. With the support of Alise, not only did Sam walk down the aisle, but a few months later rode his bike unassisted for the first time, just 17 months after his crash. Meanwhile, Alise continues to race for both of them, winning the 2017 BMX World Championships. Following the win, she said, “This win is as much for Sam and the entire team network that we have as it is for me. That’s what makes it so special.”
“After a long stand without softball in the Olympics and with it now returning, is it possible for the stakes to be higher? Can the opportunity to compete for a gold medal mean more than ever before? Any given day softball will challenge you and demand a lot from you as an athlete, person and teammate. I cannot wait to experience these challenges with Team USA as we continue on our quest to qualify for the Olympics and hopefully have a chance to compete for gold on the international stage. It is our chance to showcase our sport on the world stage and put on the greatest show on dirt. I can’t wait to be a part of this journey.”
- Monica Abbott, softball, 2008 Olympic silver medalist
“Every Olympics I’ve trained for and competed in has brought new challenges, obstacles and opportunities that have allowed me to perform at the highest level of elite athletes. Two years out from the Olympic Games 2020 in Tokyo has been no different from the last three Games I’ve had the opportunity to compete in. I’ve had to grow wiser and smarter in how I approach these Games, and I still stand fully confident in my ability to challenge for gold even with new challenges. That’s what I love about sports the most – overcoming the challenges and fighting to reach my greatest potential."
- David Boudia, diving, four-time Olympic medalist
“Representing Team USA and the United States at the 2016 Olympic Games was a dream come true, and I would be honored to have the same opportunity in 2020. My coaches, teammates and I have diligently prepared for a very important 2018 season, and I am looking forward to putting in the hard work every day to be at my best in the pool over the next two years.”
- Ryan Murphy, swimming, four-time Olympic medalist
“One of the things I’m really looking forward to in Tokyo 2020 is the atmosphere, the traditions, the culture, and really just my teammates – the memories and comradery leading up to and through the Olympics. That’s just something I’ve found after going to six Olympics – each one is unique and so different. I can’t wait to see what Tokyo brings.”
- Kim Rhode, shooting, six-time Olympic shotgun medalist
U.S. Olympic broadcaster NBCUniversal will help commemorate the countdown to the 2020 Olympic Games with its most robust two-year-out consumer engagement plan ever. It will conduct a multi-week campaign that will utilize the unprecedented assets of NBCU to educate consumers about Tokyo, new sports for 2020 -- such as surfing and skateboarding -- and many of the athletes who are expected to compete. A highlight of the campaign will be a 60-second promotional spot featuring popular Team USA athletes Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky, and Allyson Felix that is scheduled to run across NBCU broadcast, cable, digital, and social platforms. The TODAY show, numerous NBC affiliates across the country, the NBC Sports Regional Networks, and NBC Sports’ youth sports destination SportsEngine will also promote the two-year-out celebration.