Rowing at the Tokyo Games will comprise 14 medal events, seven per gender:

  • Men’ Single Sculls
  • Men’s Double Sculls
  • Men’s Lightweight Double Sculls
  • Men’s Quadruple Sculls
  • Men’s Pair
  • Men’s Four
  • Men’s Eight
  • Women’s Single Sculls
  • Women’s Double Sculls
  • Women’s Lightweight Double Sculls
  • Women’s Quadruple Sculls
  • Women’s Pair
  • Women’s Four
  • Women’s Eight

All races in rowing are contested over a distance of 2000 meters (1 mile, 427 yards, 8 inches). In sculling, each rower simultaneously pulls two oars, one on each side of the boat. In sweep rowing, each person in a boat pulls one oar, either on the starboard or port side. Two boats on the Olympic program feature coxswains: the men’s eight and women’s eight.

The United States leads the all-time Olympic medal standings in rowing with 89 total, including three consecutive golds in the women’s eight.

Overview

Rowing boats move backward on a flatwater course. There are two categories: sweeping and sculling. In sweep boats, each rower has one oar, and these boats can consist of 2, 4, or 8 athletes (plus a coxswain in the eight). In sculling boats, athletes have 2 oars each, and these boats can consist of 1, 2, or 4 athletes. A coxswain is the person in charge of the boat who controls the boat steering and strategically commands the rowers. The only events with a coxswain in Tokyo will be the women’s and men’s eights. The term “repechage” is used in rowing and it is a second chance race for crews to make the finals. Crews in Final A are in medal contention, while those in Finals B, C, and D (number of finals depends on the event) are not in medal contention, but instead are competing for a final placement. All Olympic races will take place on a 2000-meter (1.24 mile) course.

Note: The women’s four will debut in Tokyo next year as the lightweight men’s four was dropped from the Olympic program since Rio.

Single Sculls

Progression System (six boats per heat)

One sculler in each boat
Twenty-nine boat entries are expected for Tokyo

  • Five heats: first four crews in each heat advance to quarterfinals, remaining to repechages
  • Two repechages: first two crews in each repechage go to quarterfinals, remaining go to final E
  • Four quarterfinals: first three in each quarterfinal advance to semifinals A and B, remaining go to semifinals C and D
  • Semifinals:
    • A and B: first three go to final A, remaining go to final B
    • C and D: first three go to final C, remaining go to final D

Timing

Men’s Single Sculls

  • World Best Time: 6:30.74
  • Slower boats cross the finish line around 7:16.07

Women’s Single Sculls

  • World Best Time: 7:07.71
  • Slower boats cross the finish line around 8:17.16

Double Sculls

Progression System (six boats per heat)

Two scullers in each boat
Thirteen boat entries are expected for Tokyo

  • Three heats: first three crews in each heat go to semifinals A and B, remaining to repechages
  • One repechage: first three crews go forward to the semifinals, rest out (no final C)
  • Semifinals A and B: first three crews of each semifinal go forward to final A, remaining crews forward to final B (no final C with 13 entries)

Timing

Men’s Double Sculls

  • World Best Time: 5:59.72
  • Slower boats cross the finish line around 6:29.97

Women’s Double Sculls

  • World Best Time: 6:37.31
  • Slower boats cross the finish line around 7:13.57

Lightweight Double Sculls

Progression System (six boats per heat)

Two scullers in each boat
Men’s: maximum average boat weight of 70 kg (154 pounds)
Men’s: maximum rower weight of 72.5 kg (159 pounds)
Women’s: maximum average boat weight of 57 kg (125 pounds)
Women’s: maximum rower weight of 59 kg (130 pounds)
Eighteen boat entries are expected for Tokyo

  • Three heats: first two boats of each heat go to semifinals A and B, remaining go to repechages
  • Two repechages: first three of each repechage go to semifinals A and B, the rest to final C
  • Two semifinals A and B: first three from each semifinal go to final A, remaining to final B

Timing

Men’s Lightweight Double Sculls

  • World Best Time: 6:05.36
  • Slower boats cross the finish line around 6:26.61

Women’s Lightweight Double Sculls

  • World Best Time: 6:47.69
  • Slower boats cross the finish line around 7:20.18

Quadruple Sculls

Progression System (six boats per heat)

Four scullers in each boat
Ten boat entries are expected for Tokyo

  • Two heats: first two crews in each heat to final A, remaining crews to repechage
  • One repechage: first two crews in each repechage to final A, remaining crews to final B
  • No semifinals

Timing

Men’s Quadruple Sculls

  • World Best Time: 5:32.26
  • Slower boats cross the finish line around 6:01.85

Women’s Quadruple Sculls

  • World Best Time: 6:06.84
  • Slower boats cross the finish line around 6:56.39

Pair

Progression System (six boats per heat)

Two sweep rowers in each boat
Thirteen boat entries are expected for Tokyo

  • Three heats: first three crews in each heat go to semifinals A and B
  • One repechage: first three crews go forward to the semifinals, rest out (no final C)
  • Two semifinals A and B: first three crews of each semifinal go forward to final A, remaining crews forward to final B (no final C with 13 entries)

Timing

Men’s Pair

  • World Best Time: 6:08.50
  • Slower boats cross the finish line around 6:40.35

Women’s Pair

  • World Best Time: 6:49.08
  • Slower boats cross the finish line around 7:25.03

Four

Progression System (six boats per heat)

Four sweep rowers in each boat
Ten boat entries are expected for Tokyo

  • Two heats: first two crews in each heat to final A, remaining crews to repechage
  • One repechage: first two crews in each repechage to final A, remaining crews to final B
  • No semifinals

Timing

Men’s Four

  • World Best Time: 5:37.86
  • Slower boats cross the finish line around 6:07.79

Women’s Four

  • World Best Time: 6:14.36
  • Slower boats cross the finish line around 6:56.07

Eight

Progression System (six boats per heat)

Eight sweep rowers and one coxswain in each boat
Seven boat entries are expected for Tokyo

  • Two heats: winner of each heat to final A, the rest to repechage
  • One repechage: first four crews forward to final A (no final B with 7 entries)
  • No semifinals

Timing

Men’s Eight

  • World Best Time: 5:18.68
  • Slower boats cross the finish line around 5:51.49

Women’s Eight

  • World Best Time: 5:54.16
  • Slower boats cross the finish line around 6:30.96

More information:

Official Tokyo site – Rowing

USA Rowing

World Rowing