Tokyo 2021 Olympics: Best Events to Watch Live on Opening Weekend Schedule

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJuly 22, 2021

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 13: Stefanie Dolson #31 of the USA Women's National 3x3 Team smiles during the USA Womens National 3x3 Team practice on July 13, 2021 at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Basketball has long been one of the most popular sports at the Summer Olympics.

For the Tokyo Olympics, a new version of the sport has been added to the program that is sure to receive plenty of interest. 

Three-on-three basketball begins on Friday night and Saturday morning with pool play in the men's and women's competition.

The newness of the sport combined with the popularity of basketball should make it one of the must-watch events of the first three days of competition. 

The United States men's five-on-five basketball team kicks off pool play on Sunday against France, and the United States women's soccer team is back on the pitch Saturday.

American stars Caeleb Dressel and Katie Ledecky receive their first shots at medals in the swimming pool this weekend as well. 

Archery, tennis, cycling and volleyball are among the other sports that start their Olympic competition this weekend. The full schedule of events can be found here on NBCOlympics.com. 


Best Events to Watch Live

3-on-3 Basketball 

Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

As the tape delayed broadcast of the opening ceremony finishes on Friday night, the 3-on-3 basketball tournament begins. 

Japan will face the Russian Olympic Committee and then Romania takes on China in the first two women's matchups. 

The United States team will take the court at 4:55 a.m. ET and 8 a.m. ET against France and Mongolia on Saturday morning. 

Former UConn star Stefanie Dolson, 2017 first-round WNBA draft pick Allisha Gray, Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum and 2019 No. 1 overall pick Jackie Young make up the four-woman United States squad. The United States men did not qualify for the eight-team Olympic tournament. 

The Americans are the favorite to capture the women's 3-on-3 gold medal. France and reigning world champion China will be their biggest competition. 

Over on the men's side, Serbia is the team to beat. Serbia has won four of the six world championship titles and lost in the third-place game at the most recent world championships in 2019. 

Dusan Bulut, who is a two-time 3-on-3 World Cup Most Valuable Player, is the star of the Serbian team. 

For Latvia, the Russian Olympic Committee, the Netherlands or any other team to come close to competing with Serbia, they need to slow down Bulut. 

Serbia's first game takes place at 11 p.m. ET on Friday night against China. Latvia and Poland kick off the men's tournament at 10:35 p.m. ET. 

The 3-on-3 basketball discipline has games that are played to 21 points on a half court. A winner is declared when a team reaches the 21-point mark or at the end of a 10-minute period. 

The intrigue of the sport's Olympic debut combined with the fast-paced nature of the games should make it a fun watch for anyone dipping their feet into Olympic channel surfing. 



Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Swimming is one of the three major Summer Olympics sports that everyone typically tunes in for. Track and field and gymnastics are the others. 

The first swimming finals will take place on Saturday in prime time on NBC. The men's 400-meter freestyle, men's and women's 400-meter individual medley relay and women's 4x100 freestyle relay will be contested on Saturday night. 

The women's 4x100 freestyle relay should give us the first look at Ledecky in a medal event. She should race in the 400-meter final on Sunday night as well. 

Chase Kalicz and Hali Flickinger are the best American medal hopefuls in the individual medley events. Australia has the pre-face favorite in the form of the aptly named Elijah Winnington. 

On Sunday, the men's 100-meter breaststroke, men's 4x100 freestyle relay, women's 100-meter butterfly and women's 400-meter freestyle finals will be contested. 

Dressel, who is expected to bring home the most individual medals among the American men, should be on the 4x100 relay team in Sunday's final. 

Dressel and Ledecky are expected to be two of the best individual American stories at the Olympics alongside Simone Biles in gymnastics.

If you have not heard their names much prior to the Olympics, you sure will over the next week as the swimming program goes on.


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