Olympics 2020 Betting Tips, Expert Analysis and Predictions
- France to win gold in the men’s handball – 11/2 with bet365
- Spain to win gold in men's basketball – 12/1 with Betfair
- Andrea Herzog to win women's C1 canoe slalom – 9/2 with Paddy Power
The postponed Tokyo Olympics are almost upon us. No fewer than 339 gold medals will be up for grabs across 33 sports, presenting a plethora of betting opportunities from late July to early August.
While sports like golf and tennis will have their fair share of familiar faces and household names, other disciplines will not.
That unfamiliarity stretches to the best betting sites. Few will have ‘experts’ in many of the sports they will be pricing up which can give knowledgeable punters something of an edge.
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Value Bets Available
Even in athletics, arguably the highlight of any Summer Olympics, you can find serious value with favourites often far shorter than they should be.
For example, at the recent Gateshead Diamond League, relatively inexperienced American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was priced up at 1/4 with some bookies for the 100m based on her fastest time of 2021.
Her two main rivals were double Olympic champion Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce and home favourite Dina Asher-Smith, the pair who finished first and second at the last World Championships. In poor weather, Asher-Smith prevailed.
Of course, preparation for Tokyo has been disrupted by Covid although that did enable athletes across several sports to take a well-needed break. And while recent form and reputation clearly count for a lot, many athletes will be keeping something in reserve for the Games which is the pinnacle of their respective sports.
Competitors from certain countries will have had more interruptions to their training than others. Australia and New Zealand, for instance, were relatively unaffected by the pandemic with athletes returning to training fairly quickly.
Similarly, some sports have been seriously disrupted with shooting among the disciplines where there has barely been any international competition since last March.
Going back to athletics, there is one angle to look for particularly in middle-to-long distance events on the track. The majority of Diamond League races have pacemakers whereas major global competitions do not.
This means times can often count for little with tactical acumen, experience and finishing speed taking on far greater importance than the clock. And not all athletes take well to the experience of going through heats and semi-finals.
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Medal Table Betting
The USA are priced at 1/8 with William Hill to top the medal table (most gold medals rather than most medals in total determines the medal table), a price which looks fairly generous given the nation’s dominance since the fall of the Soviet Union.
The only exception was Beijing 2008, when hosts China finished top but they have - unsurprisingly - failed to come close to that haul since.
Bet365 have priced up both handball competitions with reigning Olympic and world champions Denmark 2/1 to retain their crown.
The price which looks interesting is France at 11/2 with bet365. Superstar Nikola Karabatic returned to training after tearing his anterior cruciate knee ligament last October. His presence in the squad would be a massive boost to their hopes.
European women’s champions Norway are 6/4 to take the Olympic title with Russia, who won gold in Rio but will be referred to as Russia Olympic Committee in Tokyo after doping scandals, next best at 9/4.
France are 4/1 with reigning world champions the Netherlands – whose star player Estavana Polman looks set to miss out with a knee injury – an 11/1 chance.
Basketball Betting Could Provide Value
The fact that favourites are often far shorter than they should be was demonstrated perfectly with the men’s basketball tournament where the USA were generally 1/10 outright. While this would about be the right price for the unbeatable women, this was insanely short about the men. At the last World Cup, the USA lost to France in the quarter-finals and then to Serbia - who haven’t even qualified for Tokyo - in a classification match.
This USA squad is stronger than the one in China, but it’s still missing marquee names like LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Steph Curry. Unlike many of the squads they’ll be up against, Kevin Durant and co haven’t played together a great deal and coach Gregg Popovich is still awaiting three men currently contesting the NBA Finals.
After warm-up defeats to Australia and Nigeria, they are now as big as 3/10 with Unibet. I would argue that price is still too short as there are at least four teams capable of defeating the USA.
So the question is who to take them on with. Australia have been slashed to as short as 5/1 with Paddy Power but that is an overreaction, with MansionBet offering 16/1. For me, reigning world champions Spain fit the bill. They have a rematch with World Cup runners-up Argentina in the group stages, but I would expect both teams to go through to the quarter-finals.
The 16/1 previously available has gone but 12/1 with Betfair is still huge as I believe Spain should be half that price.
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Canoeing Bet at a Tempting Price
With few athletics or swimming events priced up as yet, I’m going to canoe slalom for my second tip.
Australia’s Jessica Fox, the daughter of Richard Fox, for those who remember Paddles Up back in the day, is one of the stars of the sport. She won bronze at London 2012 as an 18-year-old and silver in Rio five years ago in the K1 (sitting, double paddle) class. The women’s C1 (kneeling, single paddle) makes its debut at Tokyo.
When it was announced the C1 would be added, the thinking was that Fox would simply carry over her World Cup dominance in the discipline. But in the past couple of years, she has been challenged by Andrea Herzog, who edged out Fox for a shock gold at the 2019 World Championships. With the 2020 season wiped out by Covid, the young German made her World Cup debut this year and has finished second and first against Fox’s first and fourth.
That would suggest the pair are evenly matched. But Paddy Power has Fox as their even money favourite with Herzog second best at 9/2. At those prices, one simply has to back the Leipzig native.
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