Football at the 2020 Olympics: Teams, host cities, qualification & all you need to know

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Football at the Olympics is an older tradition than the World Cup and it will return for the 27th time when the 2020 summer tournament rolls round.

Some of the world's most iconic footballers have graced the Olympics, including Lionel Messi, Neymar, Andrea Pirlo, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo.

Next year, the tournament goes back to Asia, where fans will get a chance to see future stars and household names alike.

So where will it all take place and which teams will be involved. Goal brings you everything you need to know about football at the 2020 Olympics.

Olympics 2020 hosts

The 2020 Olympics will take place in Japan and, while Tokyo is the chief city, the football section of the tournament will be held in a number of stadiums across the country.

As well as the National Stadium and Tokyo Stadium in Tokyo, games will also be played in Saitama, Yokohama, Sendai, Ibaraki and Sapporo.

Seven venues will be used in total and they can be seen in the table below.

City Stadium Capacity
Tokyo National Stadium* 60,016
Tokyo Tokyo Stadium 49,000
Saitama Saitama Stadium 62,000
Yokohama International Stadium 70,000
Kashima, Ibaraki Kashima Soccer Stadium 42,000
Sendai Miyagi Stadium 48,000
Sapporo Sapporo Dome 42,000

*Under construction.

The new National Stadium in Tokyo will be used for the opening and closing ceremonies so it seems likely that it will be the stage for the final of the tournament.

The stadium itself is currently close to completion and is set to host an inauguration game in late 2019.

Which teams are in the 2020 Olympics?

A total of 16 teams will compete in the men's football section of the 2020 Olympics.

Japan qualify automatically as hosts and they will be joined by 15 other national teams drawn from around the world.

The top four teams from the UEFA Under-21 European Championship – which are France, Romania, Germany and Spain – qualify, with three coming from the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations and three more qualifying from the AFC U-23 Championship.

Two teams will represent South America in the tournament with the CONMEBOL pre-Olympics tournament deciding which and two teams will also qualify from the CONCACAF region in Central and North America.

One team from the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) will reach the Olympics.

The women's football section will see 12 teams compete for gold, but qualification is somewhat different to the men's.

Japan qualify as hosts and they are joined by Brazil, who won the 2018 Copa America and New Zealand, who won the 2018 OFC Nations Cup.

Three more teams will be drawn from the 2019 Women's World Cup, two from the CONCACAF qualifying championship and two from the AFC qualifying tournament.

One team will come through the CAF qualifying tournament and another will be decided in the CAF-CONMEBOL (Africa-South America) play-off.

When do the 2020 Olympics start?

Toyko 2020

The 2020 Olympics officially get under way after the Opening Ceremony on July 24, 2020, but the football will begin two days before that on July 22.

It will also conclude a day earlier, on August 8 rather than August 9, when most other sports wrap up ahead of the closing ceremony.

Both the men's and women's tournaments will feature two phases - group stage and knockout stage.

Which footballers can play at the Olympics?

Squads competing in men's Olympic football must be made up of players who are under 23.

However, managers can select up to three players who are over that age threshold. This is why Neymar was able to play for Brazil in the 2016 Olympics and Ryan Giggs was able to play for Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics.

It is different for women's Olympic football though, where no age restrictions apply.

Which team won the last Olympics?

Brazil Olympics 2016

Brazil won the men's football section of 2016 Olympics, beating Germany in the final.

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Surprisingly, despite the fact that they are the most successful team in World Cup history, it was Brazil's first ever gold medal in football at the Olympics.

The men's team had won silver in 1984, 1988 and 2012, as well as bronze in 1996 and 2008. The women's team were twice runners-up in 2004 and 2008.

Germany won the women's section and it was also their first gold medal in Olympic football as a unified state (East Germany won in 1976).