Olympic Opening Ceremonies 2021: Critical Info for Tokyo Games Spectacle

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistJuly 22, 2021

Blue Impulse of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force flies over the main National Stadium, Wednesday, July 21, 2021, in Tokyo. The National Stadium will host host the many of the events for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics that start July 23. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

There were times, including as recently as this month, when it didn't seem like the Tokyo Olympics could possibly go ahead as scheduled (or rescheduled) this year.

From host nation Japan declaring another state of emergency because of the spike in COVID-19 cases, to athletes withdrawing from the Games due to scheduling conflicts or testing positive for COVID-19, this year's Games have faced no shortage of controversies and obstacles. 

News also broke Thursday that composer Keigo Oyamada resigned from the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony creative team after reports surfaced that he had bullied classmates with disabilities in school. Additionally, he will not be involved in the opening ceremony of the Paralympics on August 24.

The opening ceremony is scheduled for Friday, though, and it's all about to become very real. If you're planning to watch from the United States, you'll have to plan to get up very early—the NBC live broadcast will begin at 6:55 a.m. ET. Of course, the ceremony will also re-air in prime time at 7:30 p.m. ET, so you can plan to catch your nation's athletes walk in the parade live or on the broadcast. 

Let's take a closer look at everything you need to know to tune into the ceremony, as well as what to look for when you do. 


Olympic Opening Ceremony TV and Live-Stream Info

Date: Friday, July 23

Time: 6:55 a.m. ET

Rebroadcast: 7:30 p.m. ET

TV channel: NBC

Live stream: Peacock, NBCOlympics.com


Per NBC Olympics, the NBC broadcast of the opening ceremony Friday morning will be its first-ever live morning broadcast of an Olympics opening ceremony. Coverage will be hosted by Savannah Guthrie and Mike Tirico.

What can you expect to see in the opening ceremony? The most obvious sight will be the lack of spectators at Japan National Stadium. While we've known for months that there would be no international spectators allowed to attend this year's Games, Japan also announced as part of its state of emergency that local spectators would too be barred. 

Those present in the stands will be world leaders from multiple nations, including French President Emmanuel Macron and Mongolian Prime Minister Luvsannamsrai Oyun-Erdene. First Lady of the United States Jill Biden will lead the U.S. delegation. Olympic sponsors and International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials will also be in attendance. 

According to the Japan Times, fewer than 1,000 peopel may be present in the 68,000-seat stadium during the ceremony given COVID-19 protocols. 

There are a little over 11,000 athletes set to compete in Tokyo, but not all will march with their respective nations in the parade. Some will already have events going on, as both softball and soccer events began this week. 

The U.S. athletes' uniforms were designed by Ralph Lauren. The flag bearers, who were selected by their fellow athletes, will be MLB player Eddy Alvarez and WNBA player Sue Bird

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

The official @TeamUSA Opening Ceremony uniforms for the #TokyoOlympics have been revealed! (photos via @RalphLauren) https://t.co/a3IYqYaeuv

Along with the Parade of Nations, Japan will put on the traditional artistic program, which is meant to showcase the host nation's culture as well as a selected number of themes for its Games. The Tokyo 2020 organizers laid out a "basic policy" that outlines the themes that will be highlighted: peace, coexistence, reconstruction, future, Japan and Tokyo, athletes, involvement and excitement.

The Olympic flame will also be lit during the opening ceremony, along with the ceremonial release of the doves. The entire ceremony is expected to run about four hours.   


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