(ATR) Tokyo 2020 will be the first Summer Games without Usain Bolt since 2000 and the first without Michael Phelps since 1996.
Simone Biles won five world titles in October. (Getty Images)
Athletics and swimming are two of the dominant events at any Summer Olympics, and the next Bolt or Phelps could break through and become the face of the Games in the Japanese capital.
But there is one athlete who everyone expects to be at the forefront come next July.
Simone Biles was one of the stars of Rio 2016, where she won four golds and a bronze in gymnastics at age 19. She has only become more dominant since then. Taking home five world titles at the 2019 World Championships in Stuttgart in October, she also set the record with a career tally of 25 world championship medals, more than any man or woman.
Tiger Woods won The Masters in April. (Getty Images)
Tiger Woods has become world famous without taking part in an Olympics and has made it clear he wants to add a gold medal to his trophy case. First he must qualify for Tokyo, which won’t be easy. Two players per country is the limit, although up to four players from the same country can participate if all of them are ranked inside the top 15 in the world. As of the latest rankings, Woods is sixth overall and the fourth ranked American. But since nine of the current top 15 golfers are from the USA, his place is hardly secure at this point.
LeBron James is another worldwide sporting star who has said he wants to be competing in Tokyo. James opted to rest rather than go to Rio after playing for USA Basketball in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Games. James, along with almost every other American basketball superstar, elected to skip the 2019 FIBA World Cup to focus on preparations for the NBA season. Without the star power Team USA stumbled to a worst-ever seventh place finish in China, though they did qualify for Tokyo 2020.
The home crowd will have a contender to cheer for in the women’s tennis tournament in Tokyo. Naomi Osaka, who has won the 2018 U.S. Open and 2019 Australian Open, chose in October to represent Japan at the Olympics rather than the USA. She was born in Japan and raised in the United States.
Japanese-American surfer Kanoa Igarashi will compete for Japan for the debut of the sport. The venue is the same beach where his father and grandfather once surfed. Igarashi will have a big following in Tokyo.
Written by Gerard Farek
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