Opening ceremony at Tokyo Olympics 2021: performing artists, times, TV, stream and how to watch

The Tokyo Olympics officially get underway on July 23 with the opening ceremony heralding the start of the Games with events scheduled to run through to 8 August.

Opening ceremony at Tokyo Olympics 2021: performing artists, times, TV, stream and how to watch

The curtain comes up on Tokyo 2020 with the delayed Games taking place a year after the originally scheduled date due to the global covid-19 pandemic.

Opening ceremony Tokyo Olympics 2021 live online. 

Controversy has never been far away from the surface with the ongoing pandemic situation leading many Japanese citizens to openly oppose the staging of the Games. Growing positive covid cases involving participating athletes has done little to curry public opinion.

Another scandal emerged overshadowing the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony after it was revealed that the director of the ceremony of Tokyo Olympics has been dismissed, organizers said on Thursday, following news reports about his past comments on the Holocaust. Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto told a briefing that Kentaro Kobayashi had been dismissed because of past comments that made fun of a tragedy.

Organizers will be avidly hoping that once the sporting activity commences, public focus turns to the athletes participating and other issues get pushed to one side.

Opening ceremony

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who stole the show at the closing ceremony of the Rio Olympics dressed as Super Mario, won't be attending the opening ceremony in Tokyo, according to Japanese media.

A fraction of each nation's athletes are expected to attend the ceremony Friday night, which will be held in an almost empty stadium. About 950 people, including officials and journalists, will watch, organizers said.

Despite the complete billing of participating musical artists, local Japanese artists Seigen Tokuzawa, Marihiko Hara, and Masayuki Kagei along with comedy-duo HIRO-PON have been strongly rumored to make an appearance.

A sign is seen as a man walks to the PCR sample collection room at the main press center in TokyoA sign is seen as a man walks to the PCR sample collection room at the main press center ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games that were postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Tokyo, Japan, July 22, 2021. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

A 'sobering' ceremony

Tokyo's grand opening on Friday will have none of that splendor or grandiosity normally associated with previous opening ceremonies, Tokyo's event will  be a scaled down affair, a "sobering" performance, Marco Balich, longtime opening ceremonies executive producer, and now a senior advisor to the Tokyo ceremonies executive producer, explained when speaking to the media.

"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," Balich, who was in charge of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, said. "We have to do our best to complete this unique and hopefully the only one of its kind Olympics."

What time does the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony start at?

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony will start at the National Stadium (Tokyo), on Friday 23 July 2021 at 20:00 local time which equates to 7:00 am EDT and 4:00 am PDT.

That’s 13:00 pm CEST and 12:00 pm UK time.

Find out what time the opening ceremony starts if you’re elsewhere in the world.

Where can I watch the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony in the US and UK?

In the US and UK, the following television channels and online services will be broadcasting the opening ceremony:

US: Telemundo Deportes En Vivo, NBC Sports App, NBCOlympics.com, USA Network, Telemundo.

UK: EuroSport Player UK, EuroSport 1 UK, discovery+, BBC 1, BBC Red Button and i-Player.

Find out who is showing the opening ceremony elsewhere in the world.

Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony : live AS English coverage

You’ll also be able to follow live-text coverage of the opening ceremony from the Japanese capital right here at AS English. We'll be building up to the event from about an hour ahead of it starting, before taking you through the action as it unfolds.