Tokyo Olympics 2020: Team USA Goes Medal-Less in Day 1 For First Time in 49 Years

by Matthew Wilson

Team USA is not off to a great start at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. For the first time in nearly half a century, America didn’t win a single medal. Olympians didn’t grab a single medal, whether it be gold, silver or bronze, during the opening day of the event.

According to Olympic historian Bill Mallon, viewers would have to go back 49 years the last time Team USA didn’t win a medal during a Summer Olympics opening. Mallon said that was during the Munich, Germany Games back in 1972.

In total, the Tokyo Olympics handed out 11 gold medals on Friday in addition to both silver and bronze. For the Olympics, there’s a total of 339 gold medals across all of its events. Events for the day included seven different sports: archery, cycling, fencing, judo, air rifle shooting, taekwondo, and women’s weight lifting. In total, there were also 11 events as well.

Team USA has ended an impressive Summer Olympics streak, but medal-less days are more common for the United States during the Winter Olympics. Back in 2018, the U.S. failed to score an Olympic medal during opening day. The same thing also occurred during the Winter Olympics in 1998. Additionally, the U.S. didn’t have a medal during the 1980 Summer Olympics’ opening day. But that was because the nation chose to boycott the games.

Before 1972, the United States went on a losing streak for opening days at the Olympics. Between 1960 and 1972, Team USA didn’t win a single medal on opening day. But they have done so on every other opening day, stretching back to when the Olympics created opening days in 1932.

Team USA at Tokyo Olympics

But fans of the Tokyo Games shouldn’t fret just yet. While the opening day may not have went in America’s favor, none of the events were Team USA’s strong points. For instance, no American Olympians even entered the taekwondo and judo events.

Likewise, Team USA typically excels at swimming, gymnastics, basketball, and track and field. USA fencing expert Eli Dershwitz was a favorite to win saber, ranked No. 2 in the world. But he lost to champion Juhghwan Kim instead. Likewise, Mary Tucker struggled in the air rifle event, finishing only sixth. Meanwhile, Brandon McNulty came close to winning the cycling road race. He was in second place for most of the race with eyes on first. But he ended up falling behind for sixth place.

While the U.S. may have not taken any medals in Day 1, it’s sure to acquire some as the Games continues. Even back in 1972, Team USA ended up with 33 gold medals and 94 medals after its Day 1 drought. Overall, America ended up finishing in second place for the year. So it stands to reason, there’s still a lot of games left to play.