Badminton Preview

Heading into this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, USA Badminton will look to capture its first medal since badminton became an Olympic sport in 1992. Badminton continues to be a growing sport in the U.S., and with many athletes ranked among the best in the region, the U.S. hopes for a run to the podium in 2021.

At the Games, badminton consists of a single-elimination tournament. Each match is played to the best of three games, with each game played to 21 points. In singles, the top eight players are seeded according to the world rankings. In doubles, the top-four pairs are seeded. All competitions will have a group phase followed by playoffs to reach the finals.

In accordance with the Badminton World Federation qualification system for Tokyo 2020, the Badminton World Federation rankings for each respective event as of June 15, 2021, were used to allocate quota places in men’s and women’s singles, and men’s, women’s and mixed doubles. Each list was based on results achieved during the two Olympic qualification periods of April 29, 2019, to March 15, 2020 and Jan. 4, 2021 to June 13, 2021.

As her country’s top-ranked talent, Beiwen Zhang stands tall as Team USA’s best chance for the badminton podium in Tokyo, and perhaps its best chance in the history of the sport at the Olympic Games. Zhang will be competing in her first Olympic Games and is currently ranked 14th in the world in women’s singles. She has captured multiple titles over the last few years in some of the world’s largest tournaments.

Timothy Lam is the top-ranked men’s singles player in the U.S. and achieved a world ranking sufficient to qualify for Tokyo. Tokyo would be the first Olympic appearance in his young career.

Updated on June 29, 2021. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

• Can anyone top China? China is far and away the most successful nation in Olympic badminton history with 18 gold medals and 41 overall. China won the most medals in Rio five years ago, but at the most recent world championships it was Japan that topped the medal table.

• Beiwen Zhang is the highest-ranked American player in recent history and stands as the best chance to make history and make the podium at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. 

• Beiwen Zhang, 31, is ranked world No. 14 in women’s singles and has shown great potential and has her eyes set on Tokyo 2020 as the U.S.’s top Olympic hopeful. Born in China and having previously represented Singapore, Zhang will be making her first Olympic appearance. She recently won her first Pan American Individual Championship in May.

• Timothy Lam, 23, currently ranks 88th in the world and was a quarterfinalist at the 2021 Pan American Championships. Lam is a seven-time junior national champion who boosted his ranking toward Olympic qualifying through a gold medal at the 2019 Zambia International.

• July 24, 2021: Olympic competition begins with group play matches
• July 29, 2021: Round of 16 begins in men’s and women’s singles
• July 30, 2021: Men’s and women’s singles quarterfinals
• July 31, 2021: Women’s singles semifinals
• August 1, 2021: Women’s bronze- and gold-medal matches, men’s singles semifinals
• August 2, 2021: Men’s singles bronze- and gold-medal matches