Canada at the 2020 Olympic Summer Games | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Canada at the 2020 Olympic Summer Games

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Olympic Summer Games were the first Olympic Games to be postponed. They were held in Tokyo, Japan, from 23 July to 8 August 2021. Canada sent 371 athletes (225 women, 146 men) and finished 11th in the overall medal standings with 24 (seven gold, six silver, 11 bronze). It is the most Canada has ever won at a non-boycotted Olympic Summer Games. Of the 24 medals, 18 were won by Canadian women. The seven gold medals tied Canada’s record at a non-boycotted Olympic Summer Games. Highlights for Canada at the Tokyo Games included Penny Oleksiak becoming Canada’s most decorated Olympian; Andre De Grasse winning three medals, including gold in the men’s 200 m dash; the Canadian women’s soccer team winning gold for the first time in dramatic fashion; and gold medallist Damian Warner becoming only the fourth athlete in Olympic history to score more than 9,000 points in the decathlon.

Postponed Due to Pandemic

The 2020 Olympic Summer Games were the sixth Olympic Games awarded to Japan and the third for Tokyo. Previously, Tokyo was awarded the Olympic Summer Games in 1940 and in 1964, although the 1940 Games were cancelled due to the Second World War.

Originally, the 2020 Games were scheduled to take place from 24 July to 9 August 2020. However, they were postponed one year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, the Canadian Olympic Committee was the first national Olympic committee to announce (on 22 March 2020) that its athletes would not be attending the Games in 2020 due to the global pandemic. Two days later, on 24 March 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese government announced they would postpone the Olympic Games for a full year.

However, no spectators were allowed at Olympic events in the summer of 2021 because Japan was in a state of emergency with a rise in coronavirus cases. There was tremendous controversy over whether the Games should have been held at all. Public opinion polls in Japan in spring 2021 showed that almost 70 per cent of the population did not want the Games to proceed. Many people criticized the IOC and accused it of putting financial commitments and television advertising revenue ahead of people’s safety.

Games Begin

New sports for the 2020 Olympic Summer Games were karate, sport climbing, surfing, skateboarding and 3x3 basketball. Baseball and softball made their return to the Olympics for the first time since 2008. Canada would win a bronze medal in women’s softball.

In the opening ceremonies, two Canadian athletes from two different sports — women’s basketball player Miranda Ayim and men’s rugby player Nathan Hirayama — carried the flag for the first time. Canadian Chef de Mission Marnie McBean said Ayim and Hirayama were selected because “it was a natural choice to choose leaders of teams to be our Team Canada leaders.”


One of those teams became one of the biggest stories in Canadian sports history. The Canadian women’s soccer team entered the Tokyo Games with the goal of “changing the colour” of its Olympic medal after two consecutive bronze medals at the Games in 2012 and 2016. (See also Women’s Soccer Team Wins Olympic Bronze.)

The women’s team played its first game before the opening ceremonies, tying Japan 1–1 on a goal by Christine Sinclair — her 187th international goal, the most ever by a men’s or women’s soccer player. The draw against Japan was followed by a 2–1 win over Chile and a 1–1 tie against Great Britain in Group E play. In the quarter-finals, Canada beat Brazil on penalty kicks and then beat the United States for the first time in 20 years, 1–0 in the semifinals. In the final, after being tied 1-1, Canada beat Sweden 3–2 on penalties, winning Olympic gold in dramatic fashion.


At the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Canadian women won six medals in swimming and one medal in diving. In swimming, Maggie Mac Neil of London, Ontario, won Canada’s first gold medal of the Games with a time of 55.59 seconds in the women’s 100 m butterfly. She also won silver in the women’s 4x100 m freestyle relay with Rebecca Smith, Kayla Sanchez and Penny Oleksiak, as well as a bronze in the women’s 4x100 metre medley relay with Oleksiak, Sydney Pickrem and Kylie Masse.

Oleksiak, who also won bronze in the women’s 200 m freestyle, became Canada’s most decorated Olympian ever with seven medals in total. The Toronto native had previously won four medals at Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Masse also won two individual medals: silver in both the women’s 100 m backstroke and the 200 m backstroke.

Canada’s Olympic medal in diving came from Jennifer Abel of Montreal and Mélissa Citrini-Beaulieu of Châteauguay, Quebec, who won silver in the women’s 3 m synchronized springboard competition.

Track and Field

Of Canada’s 24 medals, six were won by Canadian men; all of these occurred in athletics. Andre De Grasse of Scarborough, Ontario, won three medals: gold in the men’s 200 m, bronze in the men’s 100 m and bronze in the men’s 4x100 m relay with Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake and Brendon Rodney. In winning gold in the 200 m, De Grasse set a new Canadian record (19.62 seconds) for the third time.

Damian Warner of London, Ontario, had a record-breaking performance of his own. Not only was he the first Canadian to win gold in the men’s decathlon, but his score (9,018 points) was only the fourth in Olympic history to exceed 9,000 points. The feat earned Warner the honour of serving as Canada’s flag bearer in the closing ceremonies. Meanwhile, Mohammed Ahmed of St. Catharines, Ontario, won the silver medal in the men’s 5000 m. Evan Dunfee of Richmond, BC, won bronze in the men’s 50 km walk.

Other Notable Medallists

Canada won three other gold medals at the Tokyo Games. In weightlifting, Maude Charron of Rimouski, Quebec, lifted 105 kg in the snatch and 131 kg in the clean and jerk, for a total weight of 236 kg in the women’s 64 kg weight class.

In rowing, the Canadian women’s coxed eight team posted a time in the final of 5:59.13 to win Olympic gold. It was the second time Team Canada won gold in the event, following the Canadian team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, which included Marnie McBean, Canada’s Chef de Mission at Tokyo 2020.

In cycling, Kelsey Mitchell of Brandon, Manitoba, placed first in the women’s sprint at the Izu Velodrome. The 27-year-old, who only took up cycling four years earlier, won nine of 10 races throughout the Olympic competition. She became the second Canadian cyclist to win Olympic gold in the women’s sprint, following Lori-Ann Muenzer of Toronto, who won gold at the 2004 Olympic Summer Games in Athens.

Quinn, a midfielder on the Canadian women’s soccer team who averaged 56 minutes a game during the tournament, became the first openly transgender, non-binary person to win an Olympic medal. Jessica Klimkait of Montreal became the first Canadian woman to win an Olympic medal in judo, taking bronze in the women’s 57 kg weight class. And in the Olympic debut of women’s canoe sprint, Canada medalled in each event, with Laurence Lapointe winning silver in the C-1 200 m and bronze with Katie Vincent in the C-2 500 m.

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Medal Table




Andre De Grasse

Athletics, men’s 200 m


Damian Warner

Athletics, men’s decathlon


Kelsey Mitchell

Track cycling, women’s sprint


Susanne Grainger, Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski, Kristen Kit, Madison Mailey, Sydney Payne, Andrea Proske, Lisa Roman, Christine Roper, Avalon Wasteneys

Rowing, women’s coxed eight


Janine Beckie, Kadeisha Buchanan, Gabrielle Carle, Allysha Chapman, Jessie Fleming, Vanessa Gilles, Julia Grosso, Jordyn Huitema, Stephanie Labbé, Ashley Lawrence, Adriana Leon, Erin McLeod, Quinn, Nichelle Prince, Jayde Riviere, Deanne Rose, Sophie Schmidt, Desiree Scott, Kailen Sheridan, Christine Sinclair, Evelyne Viens, Shelina Zadorsky

Soccer, women


Maggie Mac Neil

Swimming, women’s 100 m butterfly


Maude Charron

Weightlifting, 64 kg women


Mohammed Ahmed

Athletics, men’s 5000 m


Laurence Vincent Lapointe

Canoeing, women’s C-1 200 m


Jennifer Abel, Mélissa Citrini-Beaulieu

Diving, women’s 3 m synchronized springboard


Kylie Masse

Swimming, women’s 100 m backstroke


Kylie Masse

Swimming, women’s 200m backstroke


Maggie Mac Neil, Penny Oleksiak, Taylor Ruck, Kayla Sanchez, Rebecca Smith

Swimming, women’s 4x100 m freestyle


Andre De Grasse

Athletics, men’s 100 m


Evan Dunfee

Athletics, men’s 50 km walk


Jerome Blake, Aaron Brown, Andre De Grasse, Brendon Rodney

Athletics, men’s 4x100 m relay


Laurence Vincent Lapointe, Katie Vincent

Canoeing, women’s C-2 500 m


Lauriane Genest

Track cycling, women’s Keirin


Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard

Judo, 63 kg women


Jessica Klimkait

Judo, 57 kg women


Caileigh Filmer, Hillary Janssens

Rowing, women’s pair


Jenna Caira, Emma Entzminger, Larissa Franklin, Jenny Gilbert, Sara Groenewegen, Kelsey Harshman, Victoria Hayward, Danielle Lawrie, Janet Leung, Joey Lye, Erika Polidori, Kaleigh Rafter, Lauren Regula, Jenn Salling, Natalie Wideman

Softball, women


Kylie Masse, Maggie Mac Neil, Penny Oleksiak, Sydney Pickrem, Taylor Ruck, Kayla Sanchez

Swimming, women’s 4x100 m medley relay


Penny Oleksiak

Swimming, women’s 200 m freestyle