Tokyo Olympics 2021 Opening Ceremony: when is it, what time does it start and how can I watch?

·4-min read
Tokyo Olympics 2020 Opening Ceremony when date what time does it start how can I watch - REUTERS
Tokyo Olympics 2020 Opening Ceremony when date what time does it start how can I watch - REUTERS

After a year delay due to the coronavirus, the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo will officially get underway with the Opening Ceremony. It won't technically be the first action of the Games, however, as sporting action begins two days before. And that will include Team GB, no less, with the women's team opening the football tournament against Chile on the Wednesday.

When is the Olympics opening ceremony?

Friday July 23. This is only a day earlier than originally planned before Covid-19 pushed the Games back 12 months. Organisers managed to keep an almost identical schedule, aside from the 24 hours difference in schedule.

Team GB 2020: who are the British athletes competing in the Tokyo 2021 Olympics?

What time does it start?

Unlike the last Olympics in Rio, which took place four hours behind the British Isles, Tokyo will instead be eight hours ahead. Once again, it is kicking off at a civilised 20:00 local time, which is also much more civilised for British viewers too, as that means midday, rather than midnight.

Numbers of athletes attending the ceremony will be severely cut back because of Covid-19 restrictions, although how much that affects the running time of the entire ceremony remains to be seen, although for now, the official schedule reads 20:00-23:00 (so midday to 3pm UK time).

Where can I watch it?

The BBC and Eurosport have the rights to broadcast the Olympics this year.

Telegraph Sport will be covering the event live on the night. It will be shown on BBC One while for Eurosport you will need a subscription. The full schedule will be announced in time.

Where is it taking place?

Rather aptly, the Olympic Stadium will be used for the Opening Ceremony (and for the Closing Ceremony). Football and athletics will be on full display in between. Think Japan's answer to a Wembley, Maracana or the Bird's Nest.

Used as the main stadium for the 1964 Olympic Games, the venue has been rebuilt as a brand new stadium - designed by eminent architect Kengo Kuma - for the 2021 Games, although the process was beset by a number of scandals and delays, and tearing down the original was a controversial move in itself.

The newly rebuilt national stadium - AP
The newly rebuilt national stadium - AP

Latest news and rumours about what the Opening Ceremony will include

Mansai Nomura, a famous Japanese actor, was the creative director of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for both the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. But when the Games were postponed, he was replaced by Hiroshi Sasaki, a former advertising executive with Japan’s powerful public relations and advertising agency Dentsu, Inc, with Nomura staying on as an advisor.

Reports last year said the video game icon Mario and flying cars could be part of the ceremony with animated characters and new technology due to play prominant roles. At Rio 2016, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe dressed up as Mario in the handover segment of the Closing Ceremony.

However organisers are now suggesting the ceremonies will be simplified, more in keeping with the trials of the pandemic. Organisers also said the new ceremonies would add a cost 3.5 billion yen — about $35 million (£24.8m) — to an already swelling budget. About $130 million was originally budgeted for ceremonies.

What differences will there be due to Covid-19?

Overseas fans had already been banned from attending the Olympics and Paralympics to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19 but that extended to a total ban on spectators in Tokyo and the three neighbouring prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa due to a new state of emergency. It means only a total of 26 sessions will take place in front of fans, and even then numbers will be capped at the venues, but the Opening Ceremony in Tokyo will definitely not be one of them.

It was confirmed at the start of June that French President Emmanuel Macron plans to attend the Opening Ceremony of the rescheduled Games on July 23, with France holding the next Games in Paris in 2024. US First Lady Jill Biden will also be in attendance. Organisers have, however, tried to limit the general number of officials and delegates attending.

As for the athletes, they are still expected to be able to march in for the ceremony but seeing as athletes are only allowed to arrive in the Athletes' Village five days before their competition starts, then numbers are expected to be greatly reduced for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.