The Philippines won over half the available gold medals and were the most successful team in the athletics programme. Japan managed five golds and also nine silver medals in the sport. China performed poorly in comparison, receiving only six medals in total, although half of these were gold medals. Japan had most success in tracks events, particularly in middle- and long-distance running, where it completed a medal sweep. China won its four individual medals in field and combined track and field events. The Philippines had a top-two finisher in all but four events.
Fortunato Catalon defended both his sprint titles, maintaining his domination of the discipline since the 1917 games. Antonio Alo, another Filipino, was the only other person to defend a title from the 1919 event with a games record victory in the pole vault. Tu Jungtang was China's outstanding athlete as he won an unusual discus throw and pentathlon double.