From sprints to shot put, Olympics wagering has a nice ring to it

Jay Dieffenbach

In only a few days, the Olympics will be front and center in the sports world. And it will bring more than a few unique sports betting opportunities.

Delayed a year because of the pandemic, the Tokyo Olympic Games provide a platform for every kind of gaming fan to wager on a wide variety of strategies and events.

As the site olympicbettingodds.com writes:

From point spreads and straights and player, team, and event props to tournament futures and everything in between, Summer Olympics betting is as exciting as the Games themselves. And since the opportunity only comes once every four years, any interested bettor should make sure to tune in and check out their favorite sportsbooks on a daily basis leading up to and during the entire event.

To help break down the myriad options beginning Friday, July 23, we look at these Olympics through three intriguing prisms: Individual, team and nation.

Bet the athletes who could be household names within a couple of weeks

U.S. poised for sprint success even with Richardson absent

Track and field fans already are well aware of many top U.S. medal hopefuls. But the rest of the country will enjoy the coming-out party for a select few.

The glamour sprinting events always draw the world’s attention. And even in the absence of global superstar Usain Bolt, the same is likely to be true in Tokyo.

The U.S. has the favorites in both the 100 meters (Trayvon Bromell –125, with American Ronnie Baker the second choice at +375) and 200 meters (Noah Lyles, -125).

Team USA female standouts include a 21-year-old from New Jersey who already is knee-deep in endorsement opportunities, 400 meters star Sydney McLaughlin. McLaughlin is the favorite to take gold in the event in Tokyo, with teammate Delilah Muhammad next in line. At BetMGM, investors can find McLaughlin at –275 and Muhammad at +250.

Americans to watch in the women's 200 meters include Jenna Prandini (+2300 per FanDuel) and favorite Gabby Thomas (+160).

As for the women’s 100 meters, American Sha’Carri Richardson was on her way to finding fame and abundant endorsement opportunities after starring at the U.S. Olympic trials. But she reportedly tested positive for a banned substance, which resulted in her exclusion from the U.S. team.

That left the ageless Jamaican, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, as the –115 favorite, per FanDuel. Countrywoman Elaine Thompson-Herah is the +170 second choice.

Fraser-Pryce won her first gold at 21 in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The U.S. has Javianne Oliver as the seventh choice at +5000.

Rahm, McIlroy among golf gold favorites

Among the athletes – golfers are considered athletes, right? — already household names, those at the top of the favorites leader board are familiar (FanDuel odds):

  • Jon Rahm +500
  • Justin Thomas +1000
  • Xander Schauffele +1000
  • Rory McIlroy +1000
  • Bryson DeChambeau +1100

On the women’s side, American Nelly Korda (+700) is the favorite. Koreans Inbee Park and Jin Young Ko come in at +1000.

Do you have an appetite for watching those with huge appetites? Look no further than the shot put competition, where two Americans top the odds table. Ryan Crouser (-225, per BetMGM) and Joe Kovacs (+500) are the favorites for gold and silver.

Feeling patriotic? Olympics bettors can seize on Team USA

The popular U.S. women’s soccer team is a heavy favorite (-185 per FanDuel) to take the gold medal, easily outpacing the runners-up, Sweden (+1100).

Want more chalk? Also at FanDuel, the U.S. men’s and women’s basketball teams are the top pick for gold. The men are at –370, leading Australia (+500) and Spain (+1400). The U.S. women offer much less value, posted as the –1500 favorite ahead of Australia (+1800) and Belgium (+2200).

The players who want to back the Red, White and Blue and still find some value could look at three sports. In baseball, the host country is a +160 favorite over the U.S. (+300) and South Korea (+380). In men’s surfing, Brazil (–185) is the favorite to be the nationality of the winner, over the U.S. at +470. In women’s volleyball, China is favored at +220 with the U.S. at +270.

The U.S. women (-370) are the favorites over Spain (+1000) in the water polo competition. But the men are listed eighth (+2900), far back of the favored Hungarians.

The battle of nations, too, provides an Olympics betting market ripe for value

When it comes to the medals market, the odds favor the U.S. teams and individuals to take home the most gold medals, with odds of –1000 at BetMGM. China (+550) and Japan (+2200) are next in line. FanDuel has the U.S. at –750, with China at +470 and Japan at +2200.

The FanDuel over/under for total U.S. gold medals is 43.5 (-114 over and under).

The national fan presence, of course, will be lacking due to the ongoing COVID-19 threat in Japan, but the push to hold these Games has been successful. These Olympics will come off beautifully on screens around the world – and should serve to be the most wagered-upon Olympic Games in sports betting history.

Will the Games go off without a hitch?

Early this week, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach met with Japan’s prime minister, Suga Yoshihide, and observed the steps already taken and some of the resulting numbers. Bach said in an IOC statement:

Eighty-five per cent of the athletes and officials who will live in the Olympic Village, and almost 100 per cent of the IOC Members and IOC staff, are either vaccinated or immune. The percentage of vaccinated international media representatives is between 70 percent and 80 percent.

These Games will be followed by billions of people around the globe. They will admire what the Japanese people have achieved under these difficult circumstances.

The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee also revealed to the IOC that, of the 8,000-plus people involved in the Games who traveled to Japan between July 1-13, all went through pre-departure tests and health checks.

Only three tested positive for COVID-19 after arrival and were immediately isolated, while the close contacts have been subject to the relevant quarantine measures.

Rising infection rates or not, these Games will be held. And sports bettors worldwide will have something to attract their focus as they wait for National Football League preseason games to start.

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