(Reuters) – Focus on handball at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics:
THE ABSOLUTE BASICS
* Both the men’s and women’s competitions start with a pool phase with two groups of six. The top four teams from each group progress to the quarter-finals.
* Each team has seven players with matches played over two 30-minute halves.
HOW MANY MEDALS?
A gold in each tournament.
WHAT HAPPENED IN RIO?
Denmark defeated two-time reigning champions France to win their first gold medal in men’s handball. Germany took the bronze after beating Poland.
In the women’s tournament, Russia beat France in a fast-paced final while defending champions Norway went home with bronze after defeating the Netherlands.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT IN TOKYO?
In the men’s competition, medal contenders include France, Denmark, Norway, Germany and Spain while Egypt has also been mentioned as a dark horse. The only non-European country to win a medal in men’s handball is South Korea, who won silver at the 1988 Games in Seoul.
In the women’s tournament, Norway, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden and the Russian Olympic Committee are in the medal hunt.
Host Japan’s men’s team will play in the Olympic tournament for the first time since 1988, while its women’s team will join for only a second time, after finishing fifth at the 1976 Games.
WHEN IS IT HAPPENING?
From July 24 to Aug. 8
WHERE IS IT HAPPENING
At the Yoyogi National Stadium, architect Kenzo Tange’s masterpiece built for the 1964 Tokyo Games.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Handball traces its roots back to Denmark, Sweden and Germany in the late 19th century, when it originally was played outdoors as a field sport. In its modern indoor version, handball debuted at the 1972 Munich Games, and has been in the programme ever since. The women’s competition was added at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
WELL FANCY THAT
The men’s ball is slightly larger in circumference than the women’s ball. Olympic handball players apply a special pine resin to their hands so that they are able to grip the ball with one hand.
(Reporting by Daniel Leussink; Editing by Peter Rutherford)