USA Favored to Dominate Medal Count at Tokyo Olympics

As the countdown continues towards the long-anticipated start to the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, Olympic betting action is heating up at the sportsbooks. With the Opening Ceremonies less than a month away, the USA has emerged as a massive favorite to win the most medals at this year’s Summer Games, sporting short -900 odds at Bovada. The Americans also lead the way as heavy -600 chalk to enjoy the biggest haul of gold medals. However, with the United States enduring difficult lockdowns during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that have limited opportunities for American athletes to prepare for this year’s Games, opportunity knocks for rival nations to challenge the USA’s Olympic supremacy.

My Top Sportsbooks takes a look at how where the USA holds the edge, as well as which countries are best positioned to bring home the gold when the Games of the XXXII Olympiad get underway in Tokyo on July 23. Sports bettors getting into the action for the first time should refer to our betting guide for tips on how to hone their betting strategies.

Odds to Win Most Overall Medals at 2021 Summer OlympicsBovada
USA-900
China+600
Russian Olympic Committee+2000
Great Britain+4000
Japan+8000
Germany+20000
Australia+25000
France+25000
Netherlands+25000
South Korea+50000
Hungary+75000
Italy+75000

Can the USA Maintain Their Historic Edge?

The United States has emerged as a dominant force at the Olympics over the past three decades, with the Americans racking up the most gold medals at each of the Summer Olympics held since hosting the Games in Atlanta back in 1996. The USA was particularly dominant last time out in 2016, with their 121 overall medals representing almost double the number won by their closest rivals. Americans also dominated the top of the podium in Rio de Janeiro, capturing 46 of the 307 total gold medals awarded, and have taken home the most gold in five of the past six editions of the Summer Olympics.

But following a difficult year spent battling the COVID-19 pandemic, which effectively shut down sports in the United States while reportedly claiming the lives of over 600,000 Americans, can the USA bounce back? One of the concerns facing the USA is the cutback in funding of NCAA athletics programs, including cuts to programs for Olympic sports in which Americans have historically dominated including gymnastics, swimming, and track & field.

However, the impact of such budget cuts is more likely to be felt down the road rather than this year. With well over 400 athletes expected to be wearing the Stars and Stripes, the USA is once again positioned to be the most represented nation at the Olympics.

Britain Not So Great This Time Around

It is tough to maintain as much enthusiasm for Great Britain as the Tokyo Olympics approach. Perched among the top three in the total medal count at both the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and as the host nation at the 2012 Summer Games in London, Britain had enjoyed high hopes about their prospects this time around.

But like the United States, Britain has experienced severe hardship during the pandemic, with widespread lockdowns grinding the nation to a halt for extended periods since March of last year. That does not bode well for the British, who even while pegged as a lengthy +4000 bet at Bovada must be considered a risky pick to lead the medal count at this summer’s Games.

Odds to Win Most Gold Medals at 2021 Summer OlympicsBovadaBetUS
USA-600-1000
China+380+500
Japan+2800+1600
Russian Olympic Committee+5000+1700
Great Britain+6600+1600
Germany+20000+4000
Netherlands+20000+10000
Australia+25000+10000
France+25000+10000
South Korea+30000+5000
Hungary+75000n/a
Italy+75000n/a

Fade Japan

And while host nations have typically overachieved at the Olympics, it is tough to see Japan maintaining that trend this summer. Japan enjoyed their greatest Olympic success five years ago in Rio, winning 41 total medals, and had hoped to build on that this time around. But unlike the United States and Great Britain, where the number of reported cases of COVID-19 have dropped off dramatically since the end of winter, Japan has continued to struggle with large numbers of new cases on a daily basis. Japan has also lagged behind Western nations in vaccinations, with four of five Japanese citizens yet to receive their first vaccine dose.

In addition to putting the Olympics at risk of cancellation, and diminishing the chances of fans being in attendance when the Games get underway, Japan has had to endure continued restrictions that have hampered the nation’s athletes’ efforts to train and prepare to face the world on home turf. While Japan has maintained sturdy +1600 odds at BetUS to rack up the biggest overall medal haul, they offer little value to sports bettors.

China Offers Exceptional Betting Value

With so many major sports powers struggling, what nation is best positioned to fill the void? Already a rapidly rising star on the international sports stage, China is well-positioned to take the next step in Tokyo. The world’s most populous has been steadily gaining momentum since enjoying a breakthrough while hosting the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, where they outpaced the Americans, winning 100 total medals.

ChinaMost Gold Medals at Tokyo Olympics
star iconstar iconstar iconstar iconstar icon
+600
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China has yet to match their impressive performance in Beijing, falling to a distant second in Rio with just 70 total medals. One of the big factors impacting their medal production has been a dip in the number of athletes the Chinese have sent to the Games. China was represented by over 600 athletes while piling up their historic medal count in 2008 but saw that number fall well below 500 in Rio.

The budding superpower is only expected to send 334 athletes to Tokyo. However, as the first nation to suffer from COVID-19, and the first to emerge from the grips of pandemic, the Chinese have enjoyed ample opportunity to prepare for Tokyo. While taking China as a +500 bet at BetUS to lead the medal count might be a bridge too far for many sports bettors, they offer enormous value as a +600 wager at Bovada to surpass the United States and lead the way in gold medals at the Tokyo Summer Games.

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Sean Maloney

Sean Maloney is an experienced writer, first starting out in the tech industry then pursuing his passion as a sports writer. He has a great interest in North American sports and strangely is also a keen darts fan. He spends his time focused on his work and family, with much of his free time spent with his twin daughters.