Home » Tokyo Olympics: Start date, sport schedule, COVID-19 cases, how to watch

Tokyo Olympics: Start date, sport schedule, COVID-19 cases, how to watch

The Tokyo Olympics: Will it be canceled, expected start date, full schedule

The Olympics is almost here. The Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony is just hours aways and the Olympics are fully expected to go ahead, despite COVID-19 cases are already being found in the athletes village

Some sports — like soccer — have already started, but the major events are all still ahead of us. Here’s what you need to know…

Looks like the Olympics will go ahead this year no matter what.


Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

When will the Tokyo Olympics take place?

The opening ceremony is scheduled for July 23, and the closing ceremony takes place Aug. 9. 

What’s the schedule?

You can check out the full, updated schedule here. As of July 12, the games are scheduled to feature 33 competitions and 339 events held across 42 venues.

Could the Olympics be canceled again?

Good question. Some reports said that, privately, some Japanese politicians openly believed the Olympics would have to be canceled a second time. However, the IOC president disputed that claim, saying he believes the Olympics would absolutely go ahead as scheduled. 

Japan has been suffering from spikes in COVID-19 infections. Just under 30% of the Japanese population has been at least partially vaccinated at time of writing, and a petition to cancel the Olympics has been signed by hundreds of thousands of people. Despite this, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga believes Japan can run a “safe and secure Olympics.”

As mentioned above, COVID-19 cases have already been found in the athletes village.

How will Japan keep the Olympics safe from COVID-19?

Japan has been in the process of issuing protocols in an attempt to keep the Olympics safe. Those participating in the Olympics will have to use Japan’s COCOA Exposure Notification app and be tested for COVID-19 every four days.

Vaccinations aren’t mandatory for Olympic athletes taking part in the games, but many countries are making sure all of its athletes are vaccinated before attending. 

The IOC has released a number of “playbooks” for participants, staff and journalists covering the Olympics. If you’re curious, you can read them here.

Can audiences attend the Olympics?

Tickets initially sold out for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, but as of right now, spectators will be barred from attending the games in Tokyo and its surrounding areas. Events held outside the area covered by the emergency (like the marathon) will allow spectators, but they’ll be asked not to cheer the runners on the roads, as noted by The New York Times.

We know for sure that international spectators won’t be able to attend. All overseas folks have had their tickets refunded.

Why isn’t it called the 2021 Olympics?

Another good question. Despite the fact it’s taking place in 2021, these Olympics are still being officially referred to as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Tokyo Olympics logo

The logo is this checkered circle, designed by Tokyo-based artist Asao Tokolo. 

screen-shot-2019-08-02-at-4-51-33-pm

IOC

“This chequered design in the traditional Japanese color of indigo blue expresses a refined elegance and sophistication that exemplifies Japan,” the International Olympic Committee explains. The three different shapes within the pattern represent diversity, equality and excitement.

How to watch the Olympics

The Olympics are back on NBC, with a 24/7 stream online if you verify you’re a cable subscriber. NBCSports Gold will have a dedicated Olympics package — pay an upfront fee and you’ll be able to watch anywhere, uninterrupted by ads. 

Tokyo is 16 hours ahead of the West Coast, so watching live should get a good spread of events. It’s a little trickier on the East Coast, where you may have to rely on highlights.

US residents don’t need a cable or satellite TV subscription in order to watch the Olympics on NBC’s family of channels. NBC itself will be the main channel, but you’ll also find coverage on NBCN, CNBC, USA Network, Olympics Channel, Golf Channel and Telemundo. The major live TV streaming services include most or all of these NBC-related channels, and each one includes NBC though not in every market. The Olympics will also stream in 4K HDR on two of the services, FuboTV and YouTube TV. See below for details.

If you live in an area with good reception, you can watch on NBC for free just by attaching an affordable (under $30) indoor antenna to nearly any TV.

Peacock offers three tiers: a limited free plan and two Premium plans. The ad-supported Premium plan costs $5 a month, and the ad-free Premium plan costs $10 a month. Live coverage of the Olympics is available on the free tier for all events except the US men’s basketball games, which require either of the Premium plans.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC, NBCN, CNBC, USA Network, Olympics Channel, Golf Channel and Telemundo. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area. Read our YouTube TV review.

To watch in 4K HDR you’ll need to subscribe to be signed up for the company’s new 4K option that costs an extra $20 per month on top of the $65 regular monthly rate — although there’s a 30-day free trial that’s long enough to last through the entire Olympics. The 4K feed isn’t available in every market however; here’s the full list.

Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC, NBCN, CNBC, USA Network, Olympics Channel, Golf Channel and Telemundo. Click the “View channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code. Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

FuboTV costs $65 per month and includes NBC, NBCN, CNBC, USA Network, Olympics Channel, Golf Channel and Telemundo. Click here to see which local channels you get. Read our FuboTV review.

Unlike YouTube TV, Fubo’s 4K coverage of the Olympics doesn’t cost anything extra. Unfortunately it’s only available in five markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth and Boston. 

AT&T TV’s basic, $70-a-month package includes NBC, NBCN, CNBC, USA Network and Telemundo. You’ll need to spring for the $95-a-month plan to also include the Olympics Channel and Golf Channel. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live. Read our AT&T TV Now review

Sling TV’s $35-a-month Blue plan includes NBC, NBCN, USA Network, Olympics Channel. You can add CNBC and Golf Channel for an additional charge. Sling does not offer Telemundo. Sling offers NBC only in 11 major markets, so you won’t be able to stream NBC live unless you live in one of those areas. Read our Sling TV review.

All of the live TV streaming services above offer free trials (except Peacock, which just has a free tier), and all allow you to cancel anytime and require a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our live-TV streaming services guide.

In the UK and Australia 

The BBC will cover the games on TV, radio and online in the UK, with more on Eurosport, a pay-TV channel. The time difference there is eight hours, so you’ll have to get up very early in the morning to watch live.

In Australia, the Seven Network will spread free-to-air coverage over Channel Seven, 7Mate and 7Two. It’s a good year for watching Down Under, with Sydney only an hour ahead of Tokyo.


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What events are new?

There are six new or returning Olympic sports to pay attention to. Missing in London and Rio, men’s baseball and women’s softball are back due to their huge popularity in Japan. Five nations will join the hosts in competing for gold on the diamond. (Just don’t ask me to explain how they qualify.) Karate, sport climbing, surfing and skateboarding are also new, in a “How do you do, kids?” move by the IOC. In the same vein, basketball adds a three-on-three tournament for eight nations. Rugby sevens, a variant that features seven players on each side, and golf return after debuting in Rio.

Where is the next Summer Olympics?

Paris will host the 2024 Summer Olympics, having lost out to London for 2012. The US gets a shot in 2028, when it’ll be in Los Angeles. The Olympics website has cool pages on every games of the modern era, going back to Athens in 1896.