World Rugby and the global rugby family are celebrating two years to go until the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games today. With Sevens on a high after a spectacular and record-breaking Rugby World Cup Sevens that attracted over 100,000 fans in San Francisco, players and fans have been taking to social media to mark the milestone.
Rugby Sevens made an impressive Olympic Games debut at Rio 2016 with Australia’s women claiming the first rugby gold medal since the 1924 Games and Fiji’s men winning their nation’s first ever Olympic medal, with a historic gold that captured hearts around the world.
Last week, the International Olympic Committee approved the competition schedule for all 33 sports at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and Sevens will again feature in the first week of competition with matches being played across six days of two sessions per day from Monday, July 27 to Saturday, August 1.
In a reverse of the Rio 2016 format, the Men’s competition will be played over the first three days, while the Women’s competition will take place over the final three days, with the medals day being played on the iconic ‘Super Saturday’.
The Ireland Men’s and Women’s Sevens teams both missed out on qualification for the 2016 Olympics, with the men losing out to Spain at the quarter-final stage of the Olympic Repechage tournament in Monaco, while Lucy Mulhall and her team-mates’ hopes of reaching Rio were ended by Russia in a semi-final defeat at the Olympic Repechage event held at the UCD Bowl.
Both Ireland sides have made significant improvements and progress since then, as evidenced by the Ireland Women’s sixth place finish at the World Cup and wins over England and Russia, and the men in green’s Challenge Trophy success for ninth overall in San Francisco, following on from their historic bronze medal at the London Sevens.
The Olympic Sevens tournaments will be played out between 12 teams, including hosts Japan, at Tokyo Stadium in two years’ time. The top four teams at the end of the 2018/19 World Rugby Men’s and Women’s Sevens Series will qualify, along with the champions of the six continental qualifying events, including the 2019 Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series, and the winners of the Olympic Repechage tournaments in June 2020.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “This is the moment that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games comes alive for our players and fans around the world. With two years to go, the competition dates are set, excitement is building, and I am anticipating an outstanding Sevens and Games.
“By alternating the schedule, the world’s top Women’s teams have the opportunity to shine on ‘Super Saturday’, the biggest moment of the Games, which is extremely exciting for the advancement and popularity of Women’s Sevens.”
To mark the two years-to-go milestone, the global rugby family is supporting Tokyo 2020’s social media campaign by encouraging players and Unions to post images with the international sign for peace as demonstrated by Japan Men’s Sevens captain Dai Ozawa above at the Rugby World Cup Sevens last weekend.
The ‘V’ sign is the most popular gesture made in Japan when a photo is taken and also symbolises the number two. The campaign will use the hashtags #Tokyo2020 and #2yearstogo.
The Ireland Sevens jerseys are available to buy online here from Elverys Intersport, official sports retailer of the IRFU.