Olympics Opening Ceremony 2021: Date, TV Guide and Known Performers

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IJuly 20, 2021

The Olympic rings painted on the field are seen through a net as U.S. softball players take batting practice at the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 20, 2021, in Fukushima, Japan. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

A year later than planned, the Summer Olympics are about to get underway in Tokyo. And the festivities will begin in traditional fashion, as the opening ceremony is scheduled to take place Friday at the Olympic Stadium.

After being postponed a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Games are still going to be impacted by COVID-19 protocols. There won't be fans in attendance once the events get underway, and there are only expected to be limited guests at the opening ceremony.

While the ceremony marks the official start of the Olympics, some sports get started early. Softball and women's soccer matches are on the schedule for Wednesday, while Thursday will feature some men's soccer action. But most events won't begin until Friday or later.

Here's everything you need to know for Friday's opening ceremony.


Opening Ceremony Information

Date: Friday, July 23

Start Time: 6:55 a.m. ET


Live Stream: NBCOlympics.com, Peacock

Rebroadcast Information: Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC


The opening ceremony of the Olympics is always a special event. That will again be the case this year, even if things are a bit different. However, there's also still some uncertainty surrounding the showpiece.

It's not yet known if there will be performers at the ceremony, and if there will be, none have been announced yet. But the ceremony is scheduled to last four hours, so there must be things in the works to fill that time slot.

While not every participating athlete will attend the opening ceremony, some will represent their countries as the flagbearers for their nations. That's a tradition that won't be changed by the pandemic.

Savannah Guthrie, who is the anchor of NBC's Today, will be one of the hosts of the opening ceremony, along with Mike Tirico of NBC Sports. But even she doesn't know all the details of what will be happening Friday night in Tokyo.

"I'm told I've been sworn to secrecy," Guthrie said last month, per Gary Levin of USA Today. "We're hoping that there will still be that energy and excitement, but of course it will be different, just like everything post-pandemic has changed. But they still plan to put on a really big, beautiful, patriotic show."

Among the limited attendees at the opening ceremony will be First Lady Jill Biden, who is traveling to Tokyo for the event. Swimmer Katie Ledecky will carry the flag for the United States.

Although there won't be fans in attendance and things won't be quite the same as past Olympics, the competition will still provide entertainment. And it will be a way for these athletes to get back to battling it out at the highest level in an effort to earn medals.

"The most meaningful Games of our lifetime," NBC Olympics Production executive producer and president Molly Solomon said, per Scooby Axson of USA Today. "We are all emerging from this pandemic, so [for] many of the athletes it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We are confident we can confidently produce these Games."

Once the opening ceremony takes place and the events get underway, there will be two weeks of high-level competition in Tokyo. And as Solomon noted, they'll be even more important than in the past, considering the state of the world over the past year amid a global pandemic.

Before the Games can begin, though, all of the participating nations will come together for this major ceremony.