The 2021 Olympics will take place this summer, from July 23 to August 8, in Tokyo, Japan.
While many fans will be riveted by popular events like track and field, gymnastics, and basketball, other sports and competitions will be on display. In many cases, this is the only time in four years that most fans will watch some of these non-traditional sports.
If you’re looking to step out of a rut and bet on something else this summer before college and pro football start their seasons, the Olympic Games are a great way to watch unusual sports and competitions and win money doing it.
En-garde, epee, foil, and allez. If you don’t fully understand what those terms mean, you aren’t a fencing nerd. But that’s ok, because you can brush up on that before the Olympics in preparation for the fencing competition.
The best fencing nations have traditionally been France, Hungary, and Italy. The 2016 Olympic gold medalist, Italian Daniele Garozzo, is favored to win again, but he will have a challenge from U.S. top fencer Alexander Massialas (silver medalist at the 2016 Games), and Enzo Lefort of France, who is the reigning world champion.
The triathlon arguably features the world’s most versatile athletes. Competitors must swim, bike, and run world-class distances. The swim is just under a mile, the bicycling leg is 25 miles, and the final running competition is 10,000 meters (about 6.2 miles). To compete in all three legs of the triathlon, back-to-back-to-back is difficult to say the least.
The #1 ranked triathlete in the world is Spain’s Mario Mola, but there are several competitors who will be in the hunt for the Gold in Tokyo, including French world champ Vincent Luis and several of his teammates.
The triathlon will have a men’s and women’s competition and also a unique mixed relay event, where one male athlete and one female athlete will form a team.
For the first time in Olympic history, 3-on-3 basketball will be a medal sport at the Tokyo games. Apart from three-person teams, 3-on-3 is basically the same as the team sport, except the contest only goes to 21 points (by two or three-point baskets).
The U.S. teams will feature former professionals or collegiate stars, the women’s team is stacking up to have several WNBA stars on the roster. The U.S., Serbia, Croatia, and China teams are favored to gobble up the medals.
Team handball is a fast-paced, thrilling game that combines the athleticism of basketball and soccer, but players (obviously) handle the ball with their hands. Handball games typically feature several lead changes and scores exceed 25 points for each side.
While you may not be aware of the great handball teams of the world, the Olympic competition is a great place to display your national pride by backing your country. France, Sweden, and Croatia typically field the top teams, but Denmark captured the gold medal in 2016 at Rio, and their national team should once again be formidable. The U.S> has never earned a medal, and they did not qualify for the 2020/21 Olympics.
Rugby made a return to the Olympics at Rio in 2016, and the rugged sport is back in Tokyo. The international game is a 7-on-7 affair, but otherwise the sport is the same as you’d see if you were on a rugby pitch in England.
You think you’re tough? Maybe you are, but are you rugby tough? Playing rugby is a battle for every inch of territory, often fought for by bumping, pushing, and throwing bodies at each other until the most prominent colors are black and blue. There’s a reason rugby players usually have bruised elbows, sore shoulders, and scrapes on their face: the game is physical. If you like bone-rattling action, then rugby is for you.
How physical is rugby? One study showed that rugby players suffered 4.6 head injuries per 100,000 athletes. Contrast that with American football, where the rate is 1.2 per 100,000 athletes. Ouch.
The Fiji National Rugby Team is the defending Olympic champion, and they are expected to once again compete for the gold medal. Their primary competition is expected to be Great Britain and South Africa.
Surfing seems more like something you do to get a thrill than to win a medal, but once again it will be a medal sport at the Olympics, this time off the coast of Chiba, Japan, at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach.
The surfing competition at the Tokyo Olympics will consist only of shortboard (meaning all competitors will ride boards less than seven feet in length). Like gymnastics and diving for example, surfing judges will score athletes from 1 to 10 to two decimal places. So a winning score may be 9.37, for example.
While surfing may be a challenging sport to follow, those who take the time are passionate about the competitions, and let’s face it: the athletes are probably having more fun than almost any at the Olympics.
Types Of Olympic Bets
- Moneyline Bet: The most simple wager you can make, simply select a team or athlete to win a competition.
- Point Spread Bet: In points competitions like basketball, baseball, or soccer, a sportsbook will offer odds. For example, the U.S. basketball team might be favored by 9.5 against Germany. Which means that the U.S. would have to win by at least 10 points to pay on your wager.
- Totals Betting: Also known as Over/Under betting, the most common totals bet for the Olympics is how many medals a country or athlete will win.
- Futures Bets: Prior to the Olympics you will have a chance to bet on which country will take the most gold, silver, or bronze medals, or which athlete will win which medals, or break an Olympic or world record.
- Olympic Props Bets: Your sportsbook might offer prop bets on which player scores the most goals during the soccer competition, or which athlete will get the most overall medals. But there are sometimes opportunities for props on oddball things like which athlete will carry the flag for a country during the opening ceremony.
- Parlays: A typical parlay bet during the Olympics would be to select a country to win a medal in multiple sports (say baseball and softball) or in several competitions, such as a freestyle relay and a specific relay in swimming or track & field. You may also place a parlay on an athlete who is competing in several competitions, such as gymnastics, diving, swimming, and track events.
- Live Bets: Live betting, where you can place wagers on which team will score next, or which athlete may score the next goal or hit the next three-pointer etc., are often available for sports like basketball, soccer, and baseball. Check your sportsbook for opportunities for live betting during the Olympics.