Olympics 2021 Opening Ceremony Schedule

The Olympic rings

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The 2021 Summer Olympic Games kick off in Tokyo, Japan with the traditional Opening Ceremony that features a parade of nations and the lighting of the Olympic cauldron. Here is the schedule for the Opening Ceremony festivities of the XXXII Olympiad.

All times Eastern.


The Opening Ceremony Schedule


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For the first time ever, NBC is broadcasting the Opening Ceremony live in the morning across all time zones. The festivities kick off at 6:55 a.m. Eastern/3:55 a.m. Pacific on Friday, July 23. The Opening Ceremony takes place in Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium, and here is what viewers can look forward to, according to the Olympics press release:

  • No spectators, but there will be fireworks and flagbearers as part of the Parade of Nations, led by Greece, which is tradition, followed by the rest of the countries in Japanese alphabetical order. Host country Japan will enter the stadium last.
  • The Olympic oath will be taken by the officials, coaches, and athletes. The 2021 oath “has been significantly adapted in order to highlight the importance of solidarity, inclusion, non-discrimination and equality.”
  • The lighting of the Olympic cauldron will start with a “spectacular artistic display as the flame enters the city’s Olympic Stadium,” then the cauldron will be lit at “Tokyo’s waterfront city.”
  • The theme for the Opening Ceremony is “United by Emotion,” which is “underpinned by the idea the Games can bring fresh hope and encouragement to people around the world – both through the active appearance of athletes and through the power of sport.”

The press release continues:

Tokyo 2020 will be unlike any other Olympic Games in history because it will take place in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is an obstacle far beyond anything we have ever faced.

The world is made up of people who are different ages and nationalities and come from all walks of life, and now, due to the pandemic, we are physically separated. This is why, Tokyo 2020 wants everyone to experience the same excitement, joy, and at times disappointment, through the athletes’ competitive performances.

Sport is universal. It is an invaluable treasure that Tokyo 2020 believes has the power to unite the world through emotion, even if we are apart, speak different languages, or come from different cultures.

In the Opening Ceremony, Tokyo 2020 hopes to reaffirm the role of sport and the value of the Olympic Games, to express gratitude and admiration for the efforts we all made together over the past year, and also to bring a sense of hope for the future.

It’s hoped the ceremony will be an experience that conveys how we all have the ability to celebrate our differences, to empathise, and to live side-by-side with compassion for one another.


NBC’s Broadcast Schedule


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NBCUniversal said in a press release that it is providing “unprecedented full-day coverage of the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics” on July 23. Savannah Guthrie and Mike Tirico will serve as hosts for the Opening Ceremony, with track and field reporter Lewis Johnson and swimming reporter Michele Tafoya on the scene as well. It is Guthrie’s first Opening Ceremony, but Tirico’s second following his hosting of the 2018 Opening Ceremony in PyeongChang, China.

6:55 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.: Live Opening Ceremony Coverage
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.: Special Edition of “Today”
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.: Tokyo Olympics Daytime
7:30 p.m. – Midnight: Primetime Opening Ceremony
12:35 a.m. – 1:38 a.m.: Special Edition of “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon”
1:38 a.m. – 5:00 a.m.: Encore of Opening Ceremony

NBC’s primetime broadcast will feature extensive coverage of the USA athletes via interviews with Johnson and Tafoya, plus Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on hand to introduce Team USA. Broadway performer Leslie Odom Jr. will appear to tell a story “of the hopes and dreams of Olympians,” and actress Uma Thurman will narrate a special feature.

The 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics take place from Friday, July 23 until the Closing Ceremony on Sunday, August 8.

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