Wrestling at the Tokyo Games will comprise 18 medal events across the freestyle (men and women) and Greco-Roman (men only) disciplines:
Freestyle weight classes (12):
- Men’s 57kg
- Men’s 65kg
- Men’s 74kg
- Men’s 86kg
- Men’s 97kg
- Men’s 125kg
- Women’s 50kg
- Women’s 53kg
- Women’s 57kg
- Women’s 62kg
- Women’s 68kg
- Women’s 76kg
Greco-Roman weight classes (6):
- Men’s 60kg
- Men’s 67kg
- Men’s 77kg
- Men’s 87kg
- Men’s 97kg
- Men’s 130kg
The primary difference between freestyle and Greco-Roman is that the latter prohibits wrestlers from attacking below the waist or using his own legs to trip, lift or execute other holds. In freestyle, both the arms and legs are used to execute holds.
The United States is tied with the Soviet Union for the most all-time Olympic medals in wrestling (132). The host nation Japan, with 69, is tied for fourth overall with Bulgaria. Japan’s Kaori Icho won 63kg gold at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Games, then again at 58kg in 2016, becoming the only woman to earn individual gold at four Olympics.
In a major change since Rio, all wrestling events now take place over two days instead of one.
Day one includes:
- Qualification round (only contested if there are more than 16 competitors in a weight class)
- Elimination rounds (round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals)
Day two includes:
- Repechage rounds
At the start of each event, athletes are drawn into a direct-elimination bracket. In another change from Rio, the top four athletes in each weight class (based on their world ranking) are seeded. All other athletes will be drawn into the bracket at random.
The bracket uses a direct-elimination system to determine the two finalists: one loss and you’re no longer in contention for gold.
However, the sport does have a repechage bracket. Athletes who lose to either of the two finalists at any stage of the competition enter the repechage bracket for a chance to win bronze. The two semifinal losers will compete against the two winners of the repechage brackets. Two bronze medals are awarded.
The winner of the final wins gold, while the loser receives silver.
Two athletes compete head-to-head in each match. All matches consist of two periods of three minutes. There is a 30-second break between the two periods. The clock stops when the referee interrupts the bout or an athlete requests a challenge.
Athletes earn points for a variety of actions and holds, including forcing an opponent out of bounds, taking an opponent down, rolling an opponent into a exposed position, etc.
At the end of both periods, the athlete with more points is declared the winner. If the athletes are tied, the winner will be declared using ‘criteria.’ Criteria is determined using the following order of priority:
- Which athlete had the highest value hold
- Which athlete had fewer cautions
- Which athlete most recently scored a technical point
It is also possible for a match to conclude at any point in either of the two periods before time has expired. An athlete can win automatically and instantaneously if:
- He/she achieves ‘technical superiority.’ This is reached when there is a difference of 8 points for Greco-Roman and 10 points for freestyle wrestling (men and women).
- One wrestler pins his/her opponent. This is called winning by ‘fall.’
Each wrestler is entitled to one challenge per match. If, after reviewing the challenge, the referee agrees with the athlete, the athlete is permitted to use his/her challenge again. If the athlete loses the challenge, he/she also loses one point.
In freestyle only
If, after two minutes in the first period, no wrestler has scored then the referee must obligatorily designate the passive wrestler (i.e. the wrestler that has been less offensive). This athlete is then put on the clock for 30 seconds; if he/she does not score within this 30-second period, his/her opponent is awarded one point.