The Tokyo Olympics will feature 14 weightlifting events (seven for men, seven for women):

Men’s 61 kg/134 lbs.
Men’s 67 kg/147 lbs.
Men’s 73 kg/160 lbs.
Men’s 81 kg/178 lbs.
Men’s 96 kg/211 lbs.
Men’s 109 kg/240 lbs.
Men’s +109 kg/+240 lbs.
Women’s 49 kg/108 lbs.
Women’s 55 kg/121 lbs.
Women’s 59 kg/130 lbs.
Women’s 64 kg/141 lbs.
Women’s 76 kg/167 lbs.
Women’s 87 kg/191 lbs.
Women’s +87 kg/+191 lbs.

Each event consists only of a final, which features two phases: the snatch and the clean & jerk. There is typically a 10-minute break between the two phases.

Competitors take three attempts in both the snatch and clean & jerk (for a total of six lifts during the competition). Each athlete’s best result from both events is added together to determine the total weight lifted. The athlete with the highest total receives the gold medal.

Three misses in either the snatch or the clean and jerk will yield a zero total, known as a “bomb-out.” If it happens in the snatch, the lifter does not enter the clean and jerk competition.

Just before the start of both phases of the competition (snatch and clean & jerk), each athlete indicates the weight at which they will make their first attempt in each lift. Before making their first lift, a competitor is allowed to change his/her starting weight twice, perhaps in response to how another competitor has fared. With only three attempts per lift, the choice of a starting weight is a strategic ploy, one of many in the surprisingly tactical sport.

The barbell is loaded progressively, meaning the bar only gets heavier as the competition progresses. The athlete requesting the lightest weight lifts first. The weight of the barbell must always be increased by multiple of one kg increments.

Because the bar can only get heavier as the competition progresses, a lifter who starts at too high a weight might encounter trouble. The basic aim is to make your first lift at a high but comfortably attainable weight.

Calling Order

The following four factors (listed in priority order) are used when calling which athlete lifts next:

  1. The weight of the barbell (lightest weight first)
  2. The number of the attempt (lowest number first)
  3. The sequence/order of the previous attempt(s) (the athlete who lifted earliest is first)
  4. The start number of the athlete (lowest first)

Each athlete is allowed one minute (or two minutes, if making consecutive attempts) between the calling of his or her name and the beginning of the attempt.

Three referees oversee each lift to determine if it is acceptable or not. The validity of a lift is determined by majority vote (two of the three referees). Each decision is immediately analyzed by a jury, which can decide to reverse the original call.


More information:

Official Tokyo site – Weightlifting

USA Weightlifting

International Weightlifting Federation