Denmark’s Mikkel Hansen scores a goal during the final handball match between Denmark and France at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
- Norway have emerged as clear favorites to take home the gold at the Tokyo 2020 women’s handball tournament, and Denmark are favored to dominate in men’s handball action
- The Norwegians have won gold in three of four Olympic appearances, while Denmark aim to build on back-to-back wins at the World Championships
- We’ve got you covered with all the odds and trends as Olympic handball action gets underway this weekend at Yoyogi National Gymnasium
Norway’s women’s handball team will be aiming to build on their gold medal victory at last year’s European championship as they get set to open their schedule at the Tokyo Olympics as strong +155 favorites. A consistent presence atop the Olympic podium over the past three decades, the Norwegians have claimed gold in two of their past three trips to the Olympics, but can expect to face a stiff challenge from the defending Olympic champions from the Russian Olympic Committee, who closely trail at +230 in the Women’s Olympic Handball odds.
Over on the men’s side, Denmark remains the team to beat, sporting short +200 chalk. The defending Olympic champs have dominated men’s handball over the past two years, avoiding defeat while marching to consecutive World Championship wins. However, the Danes will have to hold off their rapidly improving rivals from Norway, who are poised as +330 second favorites.
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Here’s a look at all the odds and trends as the battle for Olympic Handball supremacy gets underway on Saturday July 24th, 2021 at Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Tokyo.
2020 Olympic Women’s Handball Odds
|Russian Olympic Committee||+230|
All odds as of July 22 at DraftKings
Can Norway Convert Recent Success into Olympic Gold?
The Norwegians are getting past the recent controversy over their decision to defy rules requiring them to wear bikini bottoms while competing as they seek their third gold medal in four trips to the Olympics. Norway is coming off a perfect 8-0-0 run at the 2020 European Championships, after turning in a disappointing fourth-place finish at the 2019 Worlds.
The Norwegian beach volleyball girls wanted to play in these shorts instead of in bikini bottoms which they found too revealing but were threatened by the EC tournament organizer with fines if they wore anything covering more than 10cm of their butts pic.twitter.com/LHSxXz91CM
— Tradia (@amalieskram) July 15, 2021
However, in addition to facing a legitimate threat in group stage action from the reigning world champions from the Netherlands, who arrive in Tokyo as an intriguing +1200 bet, the road to Olympic gold likely means a rematch with the ROC, who knocked off Norway in the bronze medal game at the 2019 Worlds. The Russians travel to Japan as defending Olympic champions and have suffered just three total losses in three total Olympic appearances.
The ROC face threats of their own in the group stage, most notably from Spain and France. However, considering how little success the French and Spaniards have enjoyed in past appearances at the Olympics, the ROC are well positioned to finish atop the Group A table, leaving them in a good spot to successfully repeat as gold medal winners.
The Pick: Russian Olympic Committee (+230)
2020 Olympics Men’s Handball Odds
Denmark Ride Momentum into 2020 Olympics
Over on the men’s side, all eyes will be on Denmark as they seek to defend their Olympic crown in Tokyo. The Danes overcame a shaky third-place finish in the group stage in Rio five years ago to claim their first major international tournament win outside of Europe, and have benefited from that experience.
The reigning world and Olympic champions Denmark 🇩🇰 look to stay on top of the handball world with another Olympic title 👉 https://t.co/KBbE9brmiL#Tokyo2020 #RoadToTokyo #bestofhandball pic.twitter.com/7v9gpPos6n
— International Handball Federation (@ihf_info) July 15, 2021
While they endured somewhat of a letdown in the wake of their Rio Olympics triumph, finishing off the podium in two subsequent appearances at the European Championships, Denmark have steadily regained momentum during consecutive undefeated marches to the world title, during which they racked up a sparkling 18-1-0 win-draw-loss record.
Spain Poised to Build on Euro Success
Denmark’s greatest challenge is expected to come from Norway, whom they defeated in the final at each of the past two editions of the World Championship. However, inexperience could work against the Norwegians, who remain pegged as second favorites ahead of their first trip to the Olympics since 1972.
That opens the door for France to reclaim past Olympic glory as a lucrative +550 bet. The French enjoy a long track record of success at the Olympics, including three straight trips to the final resulting in gold medal wins in 2008 and 2012. Spain also offers intriguing value as a +400 value bet. Like Denmark, the Spaniards ride considerable momentum into Tokyo after claiming back-to-back European titles and have also topped the Danes in three of their past five meetings on the international stage.
The Pick: Spain (+400)
Daniel has been writing about sports and sports betting for over 23 years. The seasoned pro has contributed to the likes of Sports Illustrated, Sportsnet, NESN, Bleacher Report, OddsShark, the Globe and Mail, and The Nation magazine.