Five-ring Circus

The 24 Craziest Stats From the Tokyo Olympics

San Marino earned 1 medal for each 11,200 of its residents—plus factoids about Kazakhstan!

Hiraki on her skateboard ascending the park ramp, looking at her feet, left arm outstretched, in knee pads and helmet
Kokona Hiraki of Japan competes in women’s skateboarding park final during at the 2020 Olympics on Wednesday in Tokyo. Jon Olav Nesvold/Bildbyrån via Reuters Marketplace

With a yearlong delay, empty stadiums, new sports, and frank discussions about mental health, this was a Summer Olympics like no other—and that was the case statistically, as well. Along with the drama, the competitions, and the medals, the Tokyo Games produced some fascinating numbers. I’ve compiled some of the wackiest and most sensational stats from the past few weeks. Read on, and among other feats, you’ll be able to amaze your family and friends with factoids about Kazakhstan’s oddly historic Olympiad.

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• American baseball silver medalist Eddy Alvarez had previously won short track speed skating silver in 2014, making him the sixth athlete to earn medals in different sports at the Summer and Winter Olympics.

• After more than six hours of cycling, the difference between second place and ninth place in the men’s road race was less than a second.

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• American swimmer Caeleb Dressel’s five gold medals made him the 11th Olympian to win at least that many golds in a single Games. He did not win the most total medals in Tokyo, though. With four golds and three bronzes, Australian swimmer Emma McKeon became the second woman to earn seven medals in a single Olympics.

• In its first 24 Olympics appearances (summer and winter), the tiny European nation of San Marino won zero medals. In Tokyo—its 25th—it won three: silver in mixed team trap shooting, bronze in women’s individual trap shooting, and bronze in men’s freestyle 86 kg wrestling. This makes it the smallest nation by population—just 33,600 people—to ever win a medal.

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• San Marino’s wins mean it earned 1 medal per 11,200 residents, the greatest ratio ever for a single Summer Olympics. For the USA to have the same ratio, it would need to win approximately 29,600 medals—more than have been given out in the history of the Summer Olympics.

• German equestrian Isabell Werth has had an unparalleled career. By earning gold and silver medals in dressage in Tokyo, she became the first person to win multiple medals in six different Games. With seven gold and five silver medals to her name, she has finished first or second in all 12 Olympic events she has entered.

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3-on-3 basketball is played to 21 points. In one game, China’s Hu Jinqiu scored a tournament-high 17 points … but the rest of his team scored one, and they lost 21–18 to the Netherlands.

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• In 5-on-5 basketball, the United States’ women’s team had an average height of 6-foot-1, which matched the height of the tallest player on their final opponent, Japan. At 6-foot-4, reigning WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson didn’t only tower over her Japanese adversaries; she also won a gold medal on her 25th birthday.

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• Georgia’s Lasha Talakhadze was so dominant in men’s +109 kg weightlifting—setting the world record with a total of 488 kg—that the difference between his first-place weight and the second-place weight was greater than the difference between second and eighth.*

• Another Georgian, shooter Nino Salukvadze, set a different kind of record: She became the first woman (and fourth athlete overall) to compete in nine Olympics. Meanwhile, Spanish race walker Jésus Ángel García became the first person to appear in eight Olympics without ever earning a medal. Neither of them was the oldest competitor in Tokyo, though; that was 66-year-old Australian equestrian Mary Hanna.

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• 13-year-old Sky Brown of Great Britain earned bronze in women’s park skateboarding … yet she wasn’t the youngest person on the podium. That honor belonged to 12-year-old silver medalist Kokona Hiraki of Japan.

• Factoring in 19-year-old gold medalist Sakura Yosozumi, also of Japan, the combined ages of the medalists in women’s park skateboarding was less than that of two individual competitors in men’s park: 46-year-olds Rune Glifberg of Denmark and Dallas Oberholzer of South Africa.

• Qatar had never won a gold medal in its previous nine Summer Olympics. In Tokyo, weightlifter Fares El-Bakh and high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim won gold on back-to-back days.

• Sport climbing had an odd scoring format—points from three different climbing disciplines were multiplied together to produce the final rankings. Had the Czech Republic’s Adam Ondra come in first place in the last discipline, he would have won the gold medal; by coming in second, he finished all the way down in sixth overall.

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• In women’s sport climbing, Miho Nonaka of Japan won silver without faring better than third in any discipline, while her compatriot Akiyo Noguchi won bronze by coming in fourth in all three disciplines.

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• Despite not earning a medal, the Netherlands women’s soccer team scored a record 23 goals in their four games, with Vivianne Miedema netting 10; the previous record for a woman at any Olympics was six. Miedema’s 2.5 goals per game were more than any non-Dutch team in Tokyo.

• Of the 22 players on their women’s soccer squads, gold medalists Canada had 14 team members below age 27, while bronze medalists the United States had just four. Twenty-year-old Julia Grosso, who scored the championship-winning penalty kick, was younger than anyone on the USA roster.

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• The softball tournament was not a beacon of offense—in no game did the losing team score more than 2 runs. USA pitchers threw one-hit shutouts in three consecutive games, the last one against Mexico; in Mexico’s next game, their pitcher Dallas Escobedo threw a one-hitter of her own.

• Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas broke the women’s triple jump world record with a mark of 15.67 meters. Of the six times a woman has crossed the 15.40-meter barrier, five have been done by Rojas, including three times this year.

• Jamaican women swept the 100-meter sprint podium; over the past four Olympics, Jamaicans have won 10 of the 12 total medals in the event, including all four golds. Elaine Thompson-Herah repeated as Olympic champion this year, while silver medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has been on the podium all four times.

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• The only other podium sweep in Tokyo was completed by Switzerland in the women’s mountain biking race. This was the event’s seventh appearance at the Olympics; in the first six, Swiss cyclists had only ever won one medal.

• Turkey’s Taha Akgul and Georgia’s Geno Petriashvili had combined to win the past six Olympics and World Championships titles in men’s 125 kg freestyle wrestling. The USA’s Gable Steveson, who had never qualified for an Olympics or worlds before, shut out Akgul in the quarterfinals and then took down Petriashvili in the final second of their match to win gold.

• Japan’s Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito earned gold in mixed doubles table tennis. It was the first gold China failed to win in any table tennis event since 2004.

• Kazakhstan won eight medals, all of them bronze. No nation has ever earned that many medals without a single gold or silver.

Correction, Aug. 9, 2021: This article originally misspelled Lasha Talakhadze’s last name.

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