Water polo at the Tokyo Games will feature a men’s tournament and a women’s tournament.

Men’s Tournament

The men’s tournament will feature 12 teams.

Competition begins with pool play. The twelve teams are divided into two pools of six teams. Each team plays every other team in the pool once in a round robin format. Wins are worth two points, ties are worth one point, and losses are worth zero points.

At the end of pool play, the top four teams in each pool (eight teams total) will move on to the quarterfinal round, while the remaining two teams in each pool (four teams total) are eliminated from competition.

The tournament then uses a single-elimination bracket to progress from the quarterfinal round to the semifinal round to the medal games. The two semifinal winners compete for gold, while the two semifinal losers compete for bronze.

Women’s Tournament

The women’s tournament will feature 10 teams (this is a change from Rio, where only eight women’s teams participated).

Competition begins with pool play. The ten teams are divided into two pools of five teams. Each team plays every other team in the pool once in a round robin format. Wins are worth two points, ties are worth one point, and losses are worth zero points.

At the end of pool play, the top four teams in each pool (eight teams total) will move on to the quarterfinal round, while the remaining team in each pool (two teams total) is eliminated from competition.

The tournament then uses a single-elimination bracket to progress from the quarterfinal round to the semifinal round to the medal games. The two semifinal winners compete for gold, while the two semifinal losers compete for bronze.

Game Overview

Each game consists of four quarters of eight minutes. There is a two-minute break after the first and third quarters, and a three-minute halftime break after the second quarter. (Note: this is a change from Rio; the halftime break used to last five minutes.)

Each team may request a one-minute timeout during each half of the game.

Because the clock stops when the ball is not in play (e.g. when the referee whistles a foul or awards a free throw), a typical water polo game usually lasts about one hour.

The team that scores the most goals wins.

TIE BREAKING PROCEDURES:

Ties are not broken during pool play; instead, each team receives one point. In the event of a tie during the quarterfinals, semifinals, or medal games, a shootout will be used to determine the winning team.

The shootout begins with a best-of-five format.

If the teams are still tied at the end of the best-of-five series, the shootout becomes a sudden death competition: each team will take one attempt until one team scores and the other fails to score within the same round.

 

More information:

Official Tokyo site – Water Polo

USA Water Polo

International federation