The opening ceremony will be unlike any in years past.
The 2021 Olympics will not have fans in attendance at the games this year due to the coronavirus, meaning that the exciting presentation to kickstart the Tokyo Games will be held entirely behind closed doors — outside of a few IOC members, foreign dignitaries, sponsors and diplomats — with fans from across the world forced to watch it from home.
But those who missed having the Summer Games in 2020 will just be relieved to see the torch finally lighting the cauldron in Tokyo to kick off the long-awaited Olympics.
Sporting News will be providing live updates and highlights from the opening ceremony when it kicks off live at 7 a.m. ET on July 23. Those hoping to see a replay of it later in the day can tune in at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
Olympics opening ceremony live updates, highlights
10:48 a.m.: The cauldron has been lit.
10:46 a.m.: Naomi Osaka will light the Olympic cauldron.
10:38 a.m.: The Olympic Flame has arrived at the Olympic Stadium.
10:30 a.m.: All the different disciplines that will be part of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics put on display in pictograms.
10:20 a.m.: Time for the playing of the Olympic anthem and the raising of the Olympic flag.
10:14 a.m.: Japan Emperor Naruhito officially declares the 2021 Olympic Games open.
“After more than half a century, the Olympic Games have returned to Tokyo. Now we will do everything in our power to make this Games a source of pride for generations to come.”
— #Tokyo2020 (@Tokyo2020) July 23, 2021
10:01 a.m.: IOC President Thomas Bach now discussing the unifying ability of the Olympics.
9:57 a.m.: Olympic Organizing Committee President Seiko Hashimoto gives a speech to the Olympic athletes about what it is like to be gathering now for the Tokyo Games.
9:50 a.m.: Musicians joining to sing John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
9:47 a.m.: Above the Olympic Stadium, 1,824 drones form a globe in the air.
9:44 a.m.: The dance portion of the Opening Ceremony returns following the conclusion of the Parade of Nations.
9:33 a.m.: The host nation of Japan enters the Olympic Stadium to cap off the Parade of Nations.
9:30 a.m.: The U.S. walks out with Eddy Alvarez and Sue Bird carrying the flag.
9:30 a.m.: With the U.S. nearly set to arrive, listen to Eddy Alvarez react to being named a flagbearer.
9:26 a.m.: As Latvia comes through, the United States is only 10 countires away from walking out in the Parade of Nations.
9:20 a.m.: The most recent host nation of the Summer Games makes its entrance at the 2021 Tokyo Games.
9:11 a.m.: The Parade of Nations continues. Belgium has begun its walk through the Olympic Stadium, the 163rd of 205 countries.
8:55 a.m.: Pita Taufatofua, the shirtless, oiled-up Tongan flag-bearer, is back at the Olympic Games.
8:45 a.m.: Luka Doncic and the Slovenian Olympic Team make their entrance in the Parade of Nations.
8:35 a.m.: A couple Olympic stars are ready for their shot at grabbing more Olympic gold medals.
8:25 a.m.: Team USA has arrived and is preparing for the Parade of Nations. They’ve still got a ways to go, however. The Americans are third-to-last in the order. Sao Tome and Principe just entered, the 76th of the 205 nations.
8:20 a.m.: Italy and Australia have made their early entrances in the 2021 Summer Games, but they’ll soon each have their turns to go last as the two are set to host Olympic Games in the not-so-distant future.
8:09 a.m.: Canada makes its entrance to the 2021 Olympic Games.
8:02 a.m.: Some of the Team USA Gymnastics team members host their own Opening Ceremony. Not all Olympians are walking in during the Parade of Nations due to COVID-19 precautions.
7:46 a.m.: Argentina wasn’t holding back their excitement coming in for the Olympic Games.
7:39 a.m.: Greece begins the Parade of Nations, followed by the IOC Refuge Olympic Team.
7:33 a.m.: The Parade of Nations is minutes away from beginning.
7:31 a.m.: The pace of the dance has begun to pick up as the entrance of the athletes gets closer.
7:21 a.m.: Moment of silence held for those who lost their lives from the coronavirus, as well as for the 1972 killing of Israeli Olympians and coaches by the Palestinian group Black September.
7:19 a.m.: As the flag is raised, Japan’s national anthem is performed.
7:15 a.m.: Japanese Emperor Naruhito makes his entrance at the Opening Ceremony. Japan’s national flag is now being walked in.
7:12 a.m.: The dance of the Opening Ceremony begins to show the athletes getting back to training for the Olympics.
7:06 a.m.: The ceremony inside the stadium now displaying at-home workouts as people remained isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.
7:05 a.m.: Following a video showing how we got to this point, the fireworks fire off around the top of the Olympic Stadium.
7:00 a.m.: It is time for the start of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony.
Opening ceremony start time
- Start time: 7 a.m. ET / 4 a.m. PT
- Rebroadcast: 7:30 p.m. ET / 4:30 p.m. PT
- Location: National Stadium, Tokyo, Japan
As will be the case for much of the 2021 Tokyo Games due to the 13-hour time difference between Tokyo and Eastern Standard Time, those hoping to see the opening ceremony will have an early wakeup call. The ceremony will begin at 7 a.m. ET on Friday, July 23, or 8 p.m. local time in Tokyo.
The ceremony arrives after some events have already begun, however, with softball and soccer, archery and rowing preliminaries already under way.
How to watch the opening ceremony
- TV channel: NBC
- Live stream: Peacock | NBCOlympics.com | fuboTV
NBC will provide complete coverage of the Olympics from start to finish over its various channels. But to watch the opening ceremony, viewers will need to tune into NBC itself at 7 a.m. ET to watch the festivities. This marks the first time NBC will broadcast an Olympics opening ceremony live in the morning.
Not an early bird? No worries. There will be a replay on NBC at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Here is NBC’s full broadcast schedule for Friday, July 23:
|6:55-11 a.m.||Live opening ceremony coverage|
|11 a.m.-1 p.m.||Special Olympics edition of “Today”|
|1-4 p.m.||Tokyo Olympics Daytime|
|7:30 p.m.-Midnight||Opening ceremony replay|
|12:35-1:38 a.m.||Special Olympics edition of “Tonight Show”|
How long is the Olympics opening ceremony?
Viewers will want to get settled in to watch the opening ceremony. The celebration of the start of the games is expected to last about four hours, running from 7 a.m. ET to 11 a.m. ET.
NBC and Olympics organizers have kept other details of the opening ceremony under wraps, including how many members of each nation’s delegation will be allowed to march.