|Date||3 – 6 August 2021|
|Location||Japan National Stadium, Kasumigaoka, Shinjuku, Tokyo|
|Participants||38 from 23 countries|
Predicting this event was almost impossible as nobody was certain who would run in the 5,000. Some of the top 5,000 metre runners were considering competing in the 1,500, the steeplechase, and the 10,000, so nobody knew what the final field would look like. Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei was the world record holder but he was also considering the 10,000, in which he had won the 2019 World Championship. Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen would eventually only run the 1,500. One favorite, Ethiopian Getnet Wale, had finished fourth in the steeplechase and would not get out of the 5K heats. Forecasting the event was futile.
In the final Cheptegei controlled the race throughout, taking the early lead, and then leading for several laps with teammate Jacob Kiplimo. Kiplimo led through 2,300 metres before Cheptegei went to the lead, although he allowed Kenyan Nicholas Kipkorir Kimeli to lead briefly.
Cheptegei went back to the front at 4,000 metres and held the lead to the finish, winning the gold medal. He was pushed by Kimeli on the backstretch of the final lap, but then left him easily. Kimeli was challenged by American Paul Chelimo, but they were passed on the final straight by Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed, who had run for the University of Wisconsin in the USA, and would win the silver medal. Chelimo, the 2016 Rio silver medalist, dove at the line to finish ahead of Kimeli and win his second consecutive medal in the event.
Cheptegei became only the fifth world record holder in the 5K to also win an Olympic gold medal in the event, joining Hannes Kolehmainen (1912), Paavo Nurmi (1924), Lauri Lehtinen (1932), and Kenenisa Bekele (2008).
|4||–||Nicholas Kipkorir Kimeli||KEN|
|10||–||Tolosa Milkesa Mengesha||ETH|
|6 h1 r1/2||–||Marc Scott||GBR|
|7 h1 r1/2||–||Hugo Hay||FRA|
|8 h1 r1/2||–||David McNeill||AUS|
|9 h1 r1/2||–||Getnet Wale||ETH|
|10 h1 r1/2||–||Daniel Simiu Ebenyo||KEN|
|11 h1 r1/2||–||Jonas Raess||SUI|
|11 h2 r1/2||–||Morgan McDonald||AUS|
|12 h1 r1/2||–||Soufiyan Bouqantar||MAR|
|12 h2 r1/2||–||Narve Gilje Nordås||NOR|
|13 h1 r1/2||–||Luc Bruchet||CAN|
|13 h2 r1/2||–||Jamal Abdelmaji Eisa Mohammed||EOR|
|14 h1 r1/2||–||Nibret Melak||ETH|
|15 h1 r1/2||–||Yemaneberhan Crippa||ITA|
|15 h2 r1/2||–||Lesiba Mashele||RSA|
|16 h1 r1/2||–||Robin Hendrix||BEL|
|16 h2 r1/2||–||Mohamed Mohumed||GER|
|17 h1 r1/2||–||Yuta Bando||JPN|
|17 h2 r1/2||–||Isaac Kimeli||BEL|
|18 h1 r1/2||–||Nursultan Keneshbekov||KGZ|
|18 h2 r1/2||–||Hiroki Matsueda||JPN|
|19 h1 r1/2||–||Abidine Abidine||MTN|
|AC h1 r1/2||–||Mike Foppen||NED|