TOKYO — The gymnastics competition at the Tokyo Olympics gets underway Saturday, when the men take the floor for the qualifying round at Ariake Gymnastics Center. Former Gopher Shane Wiskus and the U.S. team are in Subdivision 3, which starts at 5:30 a.m. Minnesota time. Here's how the competition will work, and here's who you should watch (once you brew some strong coffee).
The teams: Japan, Russia and China are the favorites in the 12-team field. Russia won the team title at the most recent world championships, in 2019, with China taking silver and Japan bronze. The field also includes the U.S., Ukraine, Brazil, Great Britain, Switzerland, Germany, Chinese Taipei, South Korea and Spain.
For the team competition, each participating country has four men on the roster. All will compete in each rotation in qualifying, and the three highest scores will count toward the team score. In the team final, three team members compete in each event, and all three scores count.
Several gymnasts also are competing as individuals, including some from countries that also qualified teams. Alec Yoder, a pommel horse specialist, was awarded an individual spot for the U.S.
The format: The top eight teams from Saturday's qualifying will advance to Monday's team final. The qualifying round also will determine the 24 athletes who move on to the all-around final on Wednesday, and the eight who advance to the individual finals in each of six events: high bar, pommel horse, parallel bars, floor exercise, vault and rings. A maximum of two gymnasts per country can qualify for the all-around and individual event finals.
The U.S. team: Wiskus, from Spring Park, completed his Gophers career last spring as a three-time NCAA champion and three-time runnerup in the NCAA all-around competition. He made the Olympic team on the strength of his performance at last month's Olympic trials, where he finished third in the all-around, second on parallel bars and third on high bar. He's a solid all-around competitor who can contribute to the Americans' team score in several events.
Brody Malone, a Stanford athlete who edged Wiskus for the NCAA all-around title in April, enters the Olympics off a superb trials performance. He topped the all-around standings and finished among the top three in three events. Sam Mikulak, a three-time Olympian, is the veteran heart of the team, while Yul Moldauer is the "hype man'' who energizes his teammates.
How to watch: The men's gymnastics qualifying round will be streamed on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app. Subdivision 1, which includes Russia and China, begins competing at 8 p.m. Minnesota time on Friday night. Japan is the main attraction in Subdivision 2, starting at 12:30 a.m. Saturday. The U.S. group will be shown live on the Peacock streaming service at 5:30 a.m. and be replayed during NBC's primetime coverage. A Team USA tracker showing only the Americans' routines will be available on NBCOlympics.com.