Olympics 2021: 5 unmissable Day 1 events and when to watch

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The Hockeyroos, pictured here in action before the Tokyo Olympics.
The Hockeyroos will be in action on the opening day of the Tokyo Olympics. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Chuck on your green and gold onesie on and settle in for a day on the couch because the Tokyo Olympics are finally here

We’re all about team sports to kick off the Games today. 

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A number of our national teams are in action on Day 1, either starting their campaigns or continuing, having already snuck in some pre-opening ceremony action.

Here are five events to check out on Day 1 of the Tokyo Olympics:

Australia v Japan, Men’s Hockey, 10.30am AEST

The Kookaburras had won a medal at every Olympics going back to Barcelona 1992 until Rio five years ago, when they finished sixth. 

But they will be right back in contention for just their second Olympic gold this time around.

The Aussies are the number one ranked team in the world going into Tokyo and should make light work of the host nation here. 

The Japanese team hasn’t appeared at an Olympics since Mexico City 1968 and is ranked 15th in the world. Nothing like a good win to get your campaign going, right?

Australia v Canada, Women’s Water Polo, 4.30pm AEST

Honestly, this sport is just brutal. Not only aerobically demanding (players swim about 3km per match), it is one of the most aggressive sports at the Games. 

Get a look at any of the underwater footage and you’ll see it’s no place for the faint-hearted. 

Grabbing, pulling and pushing, it seems it sometimes belongs more on the wrestling program than in the ball sports category.

Our Aussie women’s team, the Stingers, won silver at the 2019 world championships in Korea, so they’re up there with the best teams in the world. 

Olympic results have also been good in recent times, having won bronze in Beijing and London. 

We should be among the medals again in Tokyo, although the US is heavy favourite to claim the gold, but we’ll get the chocolates here against the Canadians.

Australia v Sweden, Women’s Football, 6.30pm AEST

The Matildas are arguably Australia’s most popular national team and their journey through a difficult group stage will be eagerly watched. 

We’ve been placed in the group of death (is Australia ever not in a group of death?) so Wednesday night’s 2-1 win over New Zealand, set up through first-half goals to Sam Kerr and Tameka Yallop, was an important first step.

We’ve got Sweden today and then the US to come, the fifth- and first-ranked teams in the world respectively, so it’s a huge challenge ahead.

The Matildas, pictured here in action against New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Matildas in action against New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympics. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

USA v France, Women’s 3x3 Basketball, 6.55pm AEST

Shortened versions of sports have become all the rage in recent years as our attention spans shrink – think Twenty20 cricket, Rugby 7s and ... AFLX? 

OK, well maybe they don’t all work but one that does is 3x3 basketball, which makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo.

Fast-paced and full on, this is played on a half-court with one ring, three-a-side and a slightly smaller ball. 

It’s first to 21 points or whoever is in front after 10 minutes. It’s basically just as you would have played with your mates on the hoop at your local park, but a thousand times more intense.

The American women are the favourites to take out gold, while the absence of their male counterparts - who shockingly missed qualification - has left Serbia as the team to beat in the men’s draw. 

Sadly, there is no Aussie team to cheer here, but it’s well worth checking out.

Poland v Iran, Men’s Volleyball, 8.40pm AEST

Poland v Iran in the volleyball, you say? Absolutely! 

Probably not what you had on the agenda for a Saturday night but this is worth seeing for one man and one man alone, and that’s Wilfredo Leon, the man they call the Cristiano Ronaldo of volleyball.

Put simply, the guy is a freak. At 202cm, when he launches into the air, and with his wingspan, he can hammer down the ball from 370cm above ground. Good luck trying to stop that. 

Anyone who can play any sport in beast mode is worth tuning in for.

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