Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony: When it starts and how to watch

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Japan loves fireworks. Expect them to play a huge part in the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony.


Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

The Tokyo Olympics is almost about to begin, despite multiple athletes testing positive for COVID, but first comes the opening ceremony — which really is must see TV.

Mainly due to the pageantry — the glorious artistic displays that represent the culture of the host nation — but also because of the memes. During the 2016 Olympics we were introduced to the shirtless, greased talents of Pita Taufatofua, from Tonga, who promptly set the internet on flames. He repeated the trick in 2018 at the Winter Olympics

Will he return for the Tokyo Olympics? We don’t know for sure, but it’s as good a reason as any to watch.


When does Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony start?

The Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony takes place at Friday, July 23 at 7 a.m. EDT (4 a.m. PDT).

Let’s break that down into further timezones. 

In the UK, that time translates to 12 noon BST on Friday, July 23. 

In Australia it’s 9 p.m. AEST on Friday, July 23. 


Where can I watch the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony?

In the US

This year NBC is broadcasting a whole day of day one Olympics coverage, including the opening ceremony. You’ll be able to watch it live coast-to-coast. NBC will be broadcasting across all US time zones starting at 6:55 a.m. EDT (3:55 a.m. PDT) for the very first time.

NBC will also re-broadcast the event at re-broadcast at 7:30 p.m. EDT (4:30 p.m. PDT).

In the UK

In the UK the BBC and Eurosport have the rights to the Tokyo Olympics. Since the everyone in the UK has access to the BBC, that will most likely be the easiest way to watch. It’ll be broadcast live on BBC One and available to stream on BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website.

In Australia

Much like in the UK, the Tokyo Olympics is available to watch on free to air TV. The opening ceremony will be available to watch live on Channel 7 or via the 7plus streaming service.


Where is the Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony taking place?

The opening ceremony will take place at the Japan National Stadium, aka the Olympic Stadium.


What can we expect?

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Shinzo Abe, wearing a Mario hat at the Rio Olympics closing ceremony.


PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Typically Olympics opening ceremonies celebrate the culture of the host country, augmented by some theme. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, for example, the theme was unity. These events can be expensive, often costing upwards of $100 million.

Japanese opening ceremonies have traditionally celebrated ancient Japanese culture, but previous Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dressed up as Mario during the handover at the Rio Olympics closing ceremony, so many expect Nintendo’s mascot to show up in an opening ceremony more dedicated to Japan’s impact on technology and popular culture. 

Could we finally see Naruto at an Olympics opening ceremony? We can dream…

Producer Marco Balich has also said that COVID-19 will somehow be referenced during the event.

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