Track & Field 101: Competition format

Posted at 10:05 AM, Mar 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-06 09:44:21-04

Track Events

Most track events consist of a maximum of three rounds (first round, semifinals and final). The number of rounds in each event is determined by the total number of entries. 

For events with the highest number of entrants, including the men's and women's 100m, there will be an additional preliminary round for athletes who have not met the 'A' nor the 'B' entry standards. Athletes who successfully advance through the preliminary round will compete in the main three rounds with the 'A' and 'B' standard athletes.  

The men's and women's 10,000m events will consist of a final with no qualifying heats.

Field Events

All field events will consist of a qualifying round and a final. Athletes who achieve the qualification standard during the qualifying rounds of each event will advance to the final. If fewer than 12 athletes reach the qualification standard in any event, the 12 athletes with the best performances in the qualifying round will advance to the final.

Combined Events

Each of the Olympic combined events (decathlon for the men, heptathlon for the women) is contested over the course of two days:


  • First day: 100m; Long jump; Shot put; High jump; 400m.
  • Second day: 110m hurdles; Discus throw; Pole Vault; Javelin throw; 1500m.


  • First day: 100m hurdles; High jump; Shot put; 200m. 
  • Second day: Long jump; Javelin throw; 800m. 

Road Events

Each Olympic road event (men's and women's marathon, men's and women's 20km race walk and men's 50km race walk) involves a single race with no qualifying heats. Competitors are arranged randomly at the starting line and begin when the Starter's gun is fired.