Summer Olympics 2021: What to Watch for on Day 15 in Tokyo
Gold. That's the short version of what's happening on a medal-packed Day 15 of the Tokyo Olympics.
The penultimate 24 hours in Japan brings the thrilling end of several long competitions. Among others, these include track and field, baseball, men's basketball, men's soccer, women's golf, men's beach and indoor volleyball and women's water polo.
All of the preparations and preliminary rounds are done. Knockout rounds and elimination games are effectively in the past. For hundreds of athletes—and a whole bunch on Team USA—a gold medal is finally in sight.
We'll be watching closely from North America, where events run from Friday evening into Saturday morning. Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of the Eastern time zone, so all start times listed are ET.
This is your guide to Day 15 at the Tokyo Olympics.
Start Times and TV Info for Notable Events
Athletics (Track and Field)
Women's marathon: 6 p.m. ET Friday, USA and NBC
Coverage for six medal events: 6:35 a.m. ET Saturday, NBC and Peacock
Gold-medal game: United States vs. Japan, 6 a.m. ET Saturday, NBCOlympics.com
Men's gold-medal game: United States vs. France, 10:30 p.m. ET Friday, NBC and Peacock
Men's gold-medal match: Anders Mol/Christian Sorum (Norway) vs. Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Oleg Stoyanovskiy (Russian Olympic Committee), 10:30 p.m. ET Friday, CNBC
Women's Round 4: 6:30 p.m. ET Friday, Golf Channel
Men's gold-medal match: Brazil vs. Spain, 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday, NBCSN
Men's gold medal-match: France vs. Russian Olympic Committee, 8:15 a.m. ET Saturday, NBC
Women's gold-medal match: Spain vs. United States, 3:30 a.m. ET Saturday, USA
USA's Nelly Korda Atop Leaderboard for Final Round
After carding a sizzling nine-under 62 in the second round, Nelly Korda cooled off in Round 3. But as she scrambled more than usual, a two-under 69 bumped Korda to 15-under for the tournament.
"I didn't have a really good back nine. I was kind of spraying it all over the place," she said, per Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press. "I had some testy par putts. But made all pars and I fought really hard to stay in it really, or ahead of it."
Korda is just 18 holes from gold.
Entering the final round, she holds a three-stroke lead. India's Aditi Ashok (-12) is the only player within five strokes. Four others—Australia's Hannah Green, Denmark's Emily Kristine Pedersen, Japan's Mone Inami and New Zealand's Lydia Ko—are 10-under.
Korda, Ashok and Ko are scheduled to hit the course at 7:18 p.m. ET Friday, and the round can be seen on Golf Channel.
USA, France Vying for Men's Basketball Gold
During the preliminary round, France edged the United States 83-76 behind a 28-point performance from Evan Fournier. The upset marked the first Olympic loss for Team USA since it fell to Argentina in the semifinals of the 2004 Athens Games.
Call it revenge, redemption or something else, but the matchup with France is a clash for gold.
Among several options, two apparent keys for the U.S. are to slow Fournier and avoid a miserable three-point day.
Fournier is easily France's most dynamic scorer, averaging 19.2 points per game. Rudy Gobert, Nando de Colo and Nicolas Batum are also critical contributors for France, which clipped Luka Doncic-led Slovenia 90-89 in the semifinals.
The wing-heavy U.S. roster has attempted 34.6 triples per game but is connecting at a 41.0 percent rate, the highest in the Olympics. If that continues—or perhaps if Kevin Durant hits 30 points for the third straight gold-medal game—Team USA should be in strong position for a fourth straight Olympic gold.
Tipoff is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. ET Friday on NBC and Peacock.
Gold-Medal Matches in Men's Beach, Indoor Volleyball
Anders Mol and Christian Sorum entered as the favorites on the beach, and they're in position to back up the billing.
But this showdown is worthy of a championship match.
During the knockout stage, neither Mol and Sorum nor the ROC's Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy have lost a set. The scorching runs have set up an incredible finish—and either Norway or a Russian delegation will earn Olympic gold for the first time.
The indoor gold-medal match pits France against the Russian Olympic Committee. While the ROC finished 4-1 in pool play and France ended 2-3, the French handed the ROC its loss.
France has never won a medal in men's volleyball, so any result will be historic. Russia earned gold in the 2012 London Games.
U.S. Women Aiming for 3rd Straight Water Polo Gold
Between not being a "major" sport and often playing overnight in North America, water polo hasn't attracted much attention this year.
Set that alarm, folks. It's time for an early morning.
After toppling Canada and the ROC in the knockout stage, the U.S. women are guaranteed to go a perfect 6-of-6 at earning a medal in Olympic competition. But after winning gold at both the London and Rio Games, Team USA has a magnificent streak to continue.
Saturday at 3:30 a.m. ET, the U.S. will challenge Spain in a rematch of the 2012 gold-medal game. Spain reached the final thanks to victories over China and Hungary—which defeated the U.S. in pool play.
Pour some coffee and watch the action on USA.
USA, Japan and a Showdown for Baseball Gold
Reintroduced to the Olympic program in Tokyo, baseball had a place on the schedule from 1992 through 2008. During those five competitions, the United States secured one gold and two bronze medals. Japan landed one silver and two bronzes. It defeated the U.S. for bronze in 1992, and the U.S. returned the favor in 2008.
Long story short: This is an appropriate way to finish.
After both countries went 2-0 in the group stage, the U.S. and Japan squared off in Round 2 of the knockout stage. Japan scored a tying run in the ninth and earned a walk-off victory in the 10th, sending Team USA into the loser's bracket.
Two wins later, though, the U.S. is ready for a rematch.
Since the tournament uses a modified double-elimination format, Team USA doesn't need to defeat Japan twice. The winner of Saturday's affair will be the gold medalist.
Brazil Targeting Repeat Gold in Men's Soccer
Neymar sent the country of Brazil into celebration with his winning penalty kick on home soil in 2016. Five years later and on the opposite side of the planet, Brazil is hoping for another Olympic gold.
Brazil and Spain arrived in Tokyo as co-favorites, but both squads have survived adventurous paths in the knockout stage.
Brazil held off Egypt 1-0 in the quarterfinals and beat Mexico 4-1 on penalty kicks in the semifinals. Spain both conceded a go-ahead goal and scored an equalizer in stoppage time against Ivory Coast in the quarterfinals. Spain won 5-2 in extra time and then needed extra time to clip Japan 1-0 in the semis.
Spain last secured an Olympic title in 1992 when, like Brazil in 2016, it won gold as the host country.
NBCSN will broadcast the gold-medal match at 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday.
Medal Events in Track and Field
In what is likely her last Olympics, Allyson Felix should have one final shot at gold.
The five-time Olympian is expected to run on the women's 4x400 relay team, which has earned gold for the United States in six straight Summer Games. Felix—who with a bronze in the 400 tied Carl Lewis as the most decorated U.S. track and field athlete—contributed on the 2008, 2012 and 2016 teams.
Plus, the U.S. men are a top challenger in the 4x400 relay. If they run, Michael Cherry and Michael Norman would be seeking a medal after both narrowly missed the podium in the individual 400 final.
Vashti Cunningham, daughter of former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham, is a finalist in high jump. She earned bronze at worlds in 2019 behind the ROC's Mariya Lasitskene and Ukraine's Yaroslava Mahuchikh, the co-favorites in the event.
Full schedule of the competitions:
- Women's marathon: 6 p.m. ET Friday
- Women's high jump: 6:35 a.m. ET Saturday
- Women's 10,000-meter final: 6:45 a.m. ET Saturday
- Men's javelin final: 7 a.m. ET Saturday
- Men's 1,500-meter final: 7:40 a.m. ET Saturday
- Women's 4x400 relay final: 8:30 a.m. ET Saturday
- Men's 4x400 relay final: 8:50 a.m. ET Saturday