A delayed arrival

Its been a long time coming. Five years after the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, Japan is getting it’s chance to put on a show that is arguably the pinnacle of the sporting calendar; however, it won’t be quite business as usual due to the world being in a very different place — hence Tokyo 2020 is now happening in 2021. That aside, the Tokyo Olympics is finally here and will hopefully deliver a series of world-class competition and sporting moments.

In this post lets discover what’s new, what’s different, the proposed schedule, viewing methods and how we got to this point.

Quick Selection

Details and the numbers

Path to the Olympics

Olympic schedules

Where to watch

Details and the numbers

The Tokyo Olympics will officially begin on July 23 and end on August 8th 2021, marked by the opening and closing ceremonies on these dates; although, the competition will in fact begin on July 21st with softball and football. Following the Olympics, the Paralympics will be taking place between the 25th of August and September the 5th and combining the two complete games equates to four weeks of competition in Japan. There are some differences between the competitions but here is what to expect from both:

Olympic games

  • 206 competing teams
  • Over 11,000 athletes
  • 33 different sports
  • 42 venues

Paralympic games

  • 168 competing teams
  • Over 4000 athletes
  • 22 different sports
  • 21 venues

The Tokyo Olympics will feature four brand new sports: sport climbing, skateboarding, surfing and Karate; and two returning sports: baseball and softball, while the Paralympics will bring badminton and taekwondo to the line-up for the first-time.

While Tokyo — The largest city in the world — is certainly capable of hosting all these events amongst the sprawling metropolis, athletes will get a chance to explore other parts of Japan too. Amongst the 42 venues, most of which are in Tokyo, there are events held in Fukushima about 3-4 hours north, and in Sapporo located on Japan’s most northern island of Hokkaido. These are amongst a handful of other locations. The plus side for viewers back at home is that we can get a glimpse into different areas of the country that may otherwise prove challenging to see.

IBA OlympicStadium2020Tokyo
The Tokyo Olympic/national stadium surrounded by other venues.
Ibamoto, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Path to the Olympics

The build up to the Tokyo Olympics has not been as smooth sailing as it could have been. The games were originally supposed to be held between the 24th of July until the 9th of August 2020, that was until Covid-19 swept across the world earlier that year. It was re-scheduled for the current dates of the 24th of July until the 8th of August 2021 which remain unchanged — despite opposition.

As the start date loomed ever closer and virus cases were on the rise, there has been increasing resentment of the games by the Japanese people. According to the Asahi Shimbun (a leading newspaper in Japan) a survey showed that 83% of respondents would like to see the Tokyo Olympics cancelled or postponed again. If this is a true representation of the population; that is a huge number. There is also hesitancy from international organisations, doctors and athletes themselves.

The discussion around Spectators is also something that has changed during the run-up to the games — or lack of. International visitors to Japan have never been on the table during the latter planning stages and instead was previously committed to allowing domestic spectators into stadiums and events. The guide number that was given was 10,000 as well as the condition of not exceeding half the venue capacity. More recently, on the 8th of July — two weeks before the opening ceremony — it was announced no spectators would be present at all during the games.

Olympic schedules

There is a lot of sport to try and pack in over the next few weeks and it would be easy to miss when a particular event is on. We must also be aware that Japan is eight hours ahead of us here in the UK, meaning some events will likely take place towards midnight or in the early hours. Luckily I’ve created a simple table to help keep track of everything that is planned each day.

Click on each image to enlarge the schedule.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic schedule

The Tokyo Olympic schedule, part one.
The Tokyo Olympic schedule, part two.

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic schedule

The Tokyo Paralympic schedule.

Where to watch

Now comes an answer to an important question, ‘Where can I watch the Tokyo Olympics?’ Thankfully this is pretty simple to answer. Here in the UK, there are two official Olympic broadcasting partners: Eurosport and the BBC.

The BBC is most likely the go-to-option here; it’s free to watch (assuming you have a tv licence) with coverage on BBC1, 2 and red button options. The iPlayer will be available for additional streams and in case you do happen to miss anything. Live coverage is planned from midnight until 6:00pm and highlight shows in the evening.

Eurosport is the other option which is owned by Discovery. It’s a company that has made new deals with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to be an official broadcaster for the entire continent until 2024; it’s a source that may become very familiar in the future. Unlike the BBC, Eurosport is a subscription service costing £6.99 a month or £39.99 a year but what do you get for that? In terms of the Olympics, they are boasting 3500 hours live of coverage. This basically means you can watch anything you like.

If you happen to be viewing this from outside the UK and are still wondering how to watch coverage live; here is a handy page from the official Tokyo 2020 website that links to a PDF of every official broadcaster in the world.


The Olympic games have always been a time of excitement for both viewers and athletes; the Tokyo Olympics will inevitably be no different despite the scenario surrounding the competition. However, the true legacy of the Olympics this time will depend on whether everything runs smoothly, or descends into chaos. I’m sure everyone is hoping for the former and for a chance to focus on what the Olympics is truly about — bringing the world together for world class sporting competition.