How is Olympic track and field structured?

The expansive Olympic track and field program consists of track events (such as the 100m sprints, 4x400m relay and 110m hurdles), field events (like the shot put, discus and pole vault) and road events (marathon, race walking).

Most events feature preliminary heats to narrow the field from dozens of athletes to a small group for the final event, in which athletes compete for medals. One notable exception to this structure is the marathon, in which just one race is held, as is the case with all road events.

How many different events are in track and field?

Track and field represents the biggest sport at the Olympics, with 48 events: 24 men's events, 24 women's. It marks the first time in Olympic history with an equal number for men and women.

Track Events

Most track events consist of a maximum of three rounds (first round, semifinals and final). The number of rounds in each event is determined by the total number of entries. 

For events with the highest number of entrants, including the men's and women's 100m, there will be an additional preliminary round for athletes who have not met the 'A' nor the 'B' entry standards. Athletes who successfully advance through the preliminary round will compete in the main three rounds with the 'A' and 'B' standard athletes.  

The men's and women's 10,000m events will consist of a final with no qualifying heats.

Here's the full list of 2024 Olympic track events:

100m (men's and women's)
200m (men's and women's)
400m (men's and women's)
800m (men's and women's)
1500m (men's and women's)
5000m (men's and women's)
10,000m (men's and women's)
100m hurdles (women's)
110m hurdles (men's)
400m hurdles (men's and women's)
3000m steeplechase (men's and women's)
4x100m relay (men's and women's)
4x400m relay (men's, women's, mixed)

Field Events

All field events will consist of a qualifying round and a final. Athletes who achieve the qualification standard during the qualifying rounds of each event will advance to the final. If fewer than 12 athletes reach the qualification standard in any event, the 12 athletes with the best performances in the qualifying round will advance to the final.

Here are the field events for the Paris Olympics:

High jump (men's and women's)
Pole vault (men's and women's)
Long jump (men's and women's)
Triple jump (men's and women's)
Shot put (men's and women's)
Discus throw (men's and women's)
Hammer throw (men's and women's)
Javelin throw (men's and women's)

Combined Events

Each of the Olympic combined events (decathlon for the men, heptathlon for the women) is contested over the course of two days:


  • First day: 100m; Long jump; Shot put; High jump; 400m.
  • Second day: 110m hurdles; Discus throw; Pole Vault; Javelin throw; 1500m.


  • First day: 100m hurdles; High jump; Shot put; 200m. 
  • Second day: Long jump; Javelin throw; 800m.

What is the difference between the decathlon, heptathlon and pentathlon?

The decathlon and heptathlon makes up part of the Olympic track and field program, while pentathlon is an entirely-different Olympic sport: modern pentathlon.

The decathlon, a men's event, features ten distinct events all within track and field (a combination of running, jumping and throwing). The heptathlon is a women's competition with seven events, also within track and field.

Modern pentathlon, however, features five disciplines that are far more diverse. Modern pentathlon at the Paris Olympics will include pistol shooting, épée fencing, freestyle swimming, equestrian show jumping and a cross-country run.

Road Events

Each Olympic road event involves a single race with no qualifying heats. Competitors are arranged randomly at the starting line and begin when the starter's gun is fired.

The road events for the Paris Games are:

Marathon (men's and women's)
20 km walk (men's and women's)
Marathon walk relay (mixed event)