The Tokyo Summer Olympics will finally kick off this Friday, July 23 after being delayed an entire year due to the Coronavirus. As per tradition, the games will begin with an opening ceremony.
The opening ceremony will be broadcast live on NBC at 6:55 am ET, or 7:55 pm Tokyo time. For those who won’t be getting up early enough to watch live, NBC will re-air the ceremony at 7:30 pm ET and again at 12:35 am ET.
This year’s opening and closing ceremonies will take place at the New National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan. The new stadium opened in December 2019. The 1964 Olympic Games were also held in the stadium before it was rebuilt.
Here is what to expect from this year’s opening ceremony.
What to Expect From the Ceremony
There are certain criteria for all Olympic opening ceremonies, including the symbolic release of doves and the playing of the Olympic anthem. Since this year’s games take place in Tokyo, the president of Japan, Yoshihide Suga, will officially declare the games open. The Japanese national anthem will also be played.
The traditional parade of athletes will take place, with Greece leading the charge and the host country of Japan taking up the rear. Two athletes, two coaches, and two judges will be taking the symbolic Olympic Oath during this year’s opening ceremony.
The last event before the performance portion of the ceremony begins is the Olympic torch relay. NBC reports that this year’s torch, which is shaped like the five petals of a Japanese cherry blossom, will be passed between more than 10,000 torchbearers. The torch itself does not get passed from person to person, participants transfer the flame from their torch to the next person’s torch.
The Artistic Program
The final portion of any Olympics opening ceremony is known as the artistic program. The details of the performance are typically kept secret until the last minute and usually pay homage to the history and culture of the host nation.
According to the basic policy outlined for the games, some of the themes for this year’s opening ceremony are peace, coexistence, reconstruction, and the future. The basic policy also states that the opening and closing ceremonies will aim to “cherish the sense of beauty that is a living product of Japan’s and Tokyo’s history.”
Artistic programs typically contain music, dance, and displays of technology. However, Opening Ceremonies executive producer Marco Balich told Reuters that this year’s ceremony will be “sobering” rather than flashy.
“It will be a much more sobering ceremony. Nevertheless with beautiful Japanese aesthetics. Very Japanese but also in sync with the sentiment of today, the reality,” said Balich. The restraint seems appropriate given the rising number of COVID cases in Tokyo.
How to Watch the Opening Ceremony
The opening ceremony will air on NBC on Friday, July 23 at 6:55 am ET and again at 7:30 pm ET and 12:35 am ET.
For those without cable, you can stream the opening ceremony live with fuboTV or Sling TV, or on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app. The rebroadcast of the ceremony at 7:30 PM ET will also be available on the streaming platform Peacock.