Only a handful of competitions remain as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics reaches its final hours, but that could be just enough for the U.S. to pull off what was considered almost impossible earlier in the Games—catching China in the gold medal race, which is now almost neck and neck.
China has won 38 gold medals at the games, followed by the U.S., which has 36.
China’s once sizable lead in the gold medal count has been shrinking over the past few days, after U.S. athletes picked up several gold medals in track and field, which is a traditional U.S. strong suit.
The U.S. is the heavy favorite to win gold in women’s basketball, with a few more chances to pick up golds in more challenging events for the Americans.
The world No. 1-ranked U.S. women’s volleyball team will take on No. 2 Brazil in the gold medal match, while two U.S. boxers are set to fight in gold medal bouts.
China has one boxer taking part in a gold medal bout, but that might be the country’s best chance to take home any more golds.
Chinese athletes will take part in the men’s marathon, two women’s track cycling events and the women’s rhythmic gymnastics group all-around final, but China’s not expected to win gold in any of those events.
No matter the result of the final few events, the U.S. has run away from the rest of the field in terms of the overall medal count. As of Saturday morning, the U.S. had won 108 total medals, well ahead of second-place China, which had won 87. The Olympics uses the number of gold medals to determine placement on its medal table, though.
Team USA’s performance at the Tokyo Games has been wan by its recent standards, while China is having one of its best Games in history. The only time China topped the medal table was when Beijing hosted the Olympics in 2008, with China taking home 48 golds. The U.S. was second, with 36, but did beat out China in the overall medal count. The last time a non-host country beat out the U.S. for the top spot was in 1992, when an Olympic “Unified Team” made up of former Soviet Union countries won 45 gold medals, compared to 37 for the United States. The 1992 Games were also the most recent time the U.S. didn’t win the overall medal count.
Japan is having by far its best Olympic Games in history, driven by the usual boost in success host nations receive. Japan will finish third in the medal count behind the U.S. and China, having won 27 gold medals as of Saturday.