There are 14 medal events in Olympic gymnastics: men’s team competition, women’s team competition, men’s individual all-around, women’s individual all-around, and 10 apparatus (event) finals – six for men, four for women.
These apparatus are listed below, with an estimated average time per clean (no falls/major errors) routine:
Women compete on four apparatus:
- Vault (5-7 seconds)
- Balance Beam (75-90 seconds)
- Uneven Bars (35 seconds)
- Floor Exercise (90 seconds – max allowed)
Men compete on six apparatus:
- Floor Exercise (70 seconds – max allowed)
- Vault (5-7 seconds)
- Pommel Horse (35-45 seconds)
- Parallel Bars (45-60 seconds)
- Rings (60 seconds)
- High Bar (45-60 seconds)
For each routine, gymnasts receive a base difficulty score (“D-score”), determined by the Code of Points depending on the difficulty of skills the gymnast performs; and an execution score (“E-score”), a number out of 10 given by a panel of judges. Scores are given almost immediately following a routine; the next gymnast can’t start on an apparatus until the previous gymnast has been scored. Nearly all ties in individual events are broken first by E-score, then by D-score.
Twelve men’s teams and 12 women’s teams (with a maximum of four athletes per team) compete in the Olympic gymnastics competition. This is a change since Rio; at the last two Olympics, teams have consisted of five members each. In addition, 100 individual competitors (50 men and 50 women) may compete. That is a maximum of 98 men and 98 women for a total of 196 athletes.
There are four phases of Olympic gymnastics competition:
- Team finals
- Individual all-around finals
- Event finals
There is only one qualification round (per gender). It determines which teams/athletes qualify for all finals.
Every gymnast, whether competing for a team or as an individual, competes in the qualification round. Men and women have qualification on separate days – one day each. Gymnasts are divided into groups by random draw – gymnasts competing individually are drawn into “mixed groups” of five or six, with gymnasts from the same country staying together (for instance, if Cuba sends two individual gymnasts, they might be drawn together into a group with three individual gymnasts from Greece). “Mixed groups” are randomly put into subdivisions, or larger groups, with team gymnasts. A subdivision, therefore, might consist of the U.S. team, the French team, and two mixed groups. During each subdivision’s time slot, the smaller groups within that subdivision will rotate from one apparatus to another until they have completed them all (the groups are not mixed up – in the example above, the U.S. team would start on one apparatus and stay together, as would the French team and each of the mixed groups).
Gymnasts compete on each apparatus during qualification (if they wish to – they don’t have to do every event). They receive a score from the judging panel after each routine (every apparatus has a separate panel). Gymnasts must compete on all four (in women’s) or all six (in men’s) to be in contention to qualify for the individual all-around final via their cumulative score. Otherwise, they will only be in contention to make individual event finals and/or team finals if they are competing as part of a team.
Gymnasts do one routine per apparatus, with an exception on vault – if a gymnast wants to make the individual event final on vault, they must do two different vaults, the scores of which are averaged, to be in contention. In this case, only the score of the first vault will count toward their qualifying for the team and/or all-around finals.
For the team event, all four members of the team may compete on each apparatus, with the best three scores on each counting toward the team’s total qualifying score. Teams may choose to only have three gymnasts compete on an apparatus, and in this case all three scores will count.
No scores from qualification carry over to the remaining competitions.
The top eight teams per gender (based on cumulative score in qualifying) advance to team finals. In the final, three gymnasts per team compete on each apparatus, with all three of their scores counting. The team with the highest cumulative score in the final wins. This takes place over the course of 2 days – one for men and one for women.
Individual All-Around Finals
The top 24 gymnasts per gender (based on cumulative score in qualifying) advance to the individual all-around final. Gymnasts do one routine per apparatus, and the gymnast with the highest cumulative score in the final wins. This takes place over the course of 2 days – one for men and one for women.
Apparatus (Event) Finals
The top eight gymnasts per gender on each apparatus (based on score in qualifying) advance to individual event finals. Gymnasts do one routine on each apparatus except on vault, where they do two different vaults, the scores of which are averaged. The highest score on each event wins. This takes place over the course of 3 days – 4 apparatus on the first, and 3 apparatus on each of the remaining two.