Summer Olympics 2021: schedule, new sports, and everything else you need to know

We're ALL about the gymnastics—this Summer Olympics 2021 schedule and guide will ensure you never miss a minute of competition

 In this photo illustration a Tokyo 2020 Olympics logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Drumroll, please: the Summer Olympics 2021 schedule will keep fans hooked with 33 competitions and 339 events held across 42 venues. Phew! Are you ready?

Since the Tokyo Olympics can feel a little overwhelming in terms of schedules, we'll help you navigate when and how to tune into your favorite sports so you don't miss a second of the action, especially when it comes to some of our star athletes like Simone Biles, Gabby Thomas, and Gwen Berry. Game on! 

When is the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics 2021?

First thing's first? The kickoff. This year's Opening Ceremony event will be a 'sobering' one, but will still go on despite some changes to tradition. We'll tell you how to catch it all on July 23rd, no matter where you are in the world.

How long are the Olympics 2021?

The Summer Olympics are held over 16 days, starting on Friday, July 23rd, and ending on Sunday, August 8th. This year's host city is Tokyo, Japan. 

Originally scheduled for summer 2020, the international games had to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. As the COVID-19 crisis continues, local and foreign spectators have been banned from attending the games. The capital has issued a COVID-related state of emergency issued ahead of the games. 

The Summer Paralympics will begin on Tuesday, August 24th, and run until Sunday, September 5th. It will feature 539 events across 22 sports hosted at 21 venues. You can find the full schedule on the Olympics website

Where to find the Summer Olympics 2021 schedule:

Gymnastics, rowing, skateboarding—where do we begin?! Considering there are 41 sports and over 11,000 athletes, there is a lot to keep track of. 

Fortunately, the Olympics website and NBC break down their schedules by sport. Clicking on icons will give insight into the match, its date, time, participating countries, statistics, scores, and so on. (On NBC, you'll notice two icons: a trophy, which indicates medal events, and a checkmark, which indicates a sporting event.) 

Note that all times and schedules are based on Tokyo dates and times, which is 13 hours ahead of EDT.

Summer Olympics sports list: What's included?

Whether it's swimming or skating, water polo or weightlifting, we've all got our go-to sports to tune into every four years. See which sports are included in the Summer Olympics 2021 below:

  • 3x3 Basketball
  • Archery
  • Artistic Gymnastics
  • Artistic Swimming
  • Athletics
  • Badminton
  • Baseball/Softball
  • Basketball
  • Beach Volleyball
  • BMX Freestyle
  • BMX Racing
  • Boxing
  • Canoe/Kayak Flatwater
  • Canoe/Kayak Slalom
  • Diving
  • Equestrian
  • Fencing
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Handball
  • Hockey
  • Judo
  • Karate
  • Marathon Swimming
  • Modern Pentathlon
  • Mountain Biking
  • Rhythmic Gymnastics
  • Road Cycling
  • Rowing
  • Rugby
  • Sailing
  • Shooting
  • Skateboarding
  • Sport Climbing
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Table Tennis
  • Taekwando
  • Tennis
  • Track Cycling
  • Trampoline
  • Triathlon
  • Volleyball
  • Water Polo
  • Weightlifting
  • Wrestling

How many countries are in the Olympics?

There will be a total of 206 countries—for a total of 11,091 athletes—competing in the Tokyo Olympics. A full list of participants is available on the Olympics website

New Olympic sports: What's been added this year?

There are four brand-new sports joining the Olympic Games this year: Surfing, sport climbing, karate, and skateboarding. 

Baseball and softball—which were Olympic sports back in the 1990s and early 2000s, but have not been included in the Games since 2008—are also making their grand return to the international arena. 

How to watch the Olympics in the US:

No cable? No problem! You can catch the Olympics from a variety of streaming services. 

Peacock TV will stream most of its Olympics coverage for free, but if you have your heart set on watching premium events live (including men's basketball), that'll require you to sign up for the service for $4.99 per month ($9.99 per month if you want to skip out on commercials). 

Hulu Live TV will allow sports fans to catch the Olympic games. Seven-day free trials are available, but do note that there is a hefty monthly fee ($64.99) for live TV each month, so you'll want to adhere to those trial rules. 

On Sling TV, you'll want to add the Sports Extra package for $11 to access Olympic coverage. Depending on the service you select, Sling typically costs anywhere from $35 to $46 per month, and is $10 for new customers during their first month!

FuboTV is perfect for all sports fans, but it does come with a hefty price tag ($64.99 per month, though you can cancel at any time). There is a seven-day free trial that you can snag right before your favorite Olympic event!

How to watch the Olympics in the UK, Canada, and Australia:

For those based in the UK, live coverage of the Olympics will be on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, and BBC Red Button. The network's day-by-day guide will fill you in on what to watch and when. 

If you're based in Canada, the best way to see the sports is via Sportsnet, TSN, CBC, and TLN. All but TLN will allow you to watch online as well, but you'll either have to sign up for a subscription service or send in your cable details, per Tech Radar

In Australia, Seven and 7plus are gearing up for Olympics coverage. There is a 24/7 live stream of the Olympic Channel.

How to watch the Olympics everywhere else: 

When in doubt, turn to a trusted VPN to watch this year's Summer Olympics. A VPN  is a handy piece of software that allows you to browse anonymously, and to change your IP address so your mobile, computer, or laptop thinks it's in another location. Meaning, you can watch your favorite show, film or event—even if you’re away from home.

Our favorite VPN service is ExpressVPN—rated the best VPN in the world right now, by our colleagues at TechRadar.

How to watch the Olympics for free:

NBCUniversal is the main broadcast partner for the Olympics. Your best way to catch the competitions is through your cable provider, but there are ways to access the action if you've cut the chord. 

  • Access NBC and its affiliates through a digital antenna 
  • Watch the games on streaming services, including Sling TV ($10 for your first month), FuboTv (currently offering free trials), Hulu + Live TV, and Peacock 

Peacock perk

Peacock and Winc's bundle deal is truly a win-win situation. For $29.99 per month, first-time subscribers to the wine delivery service will not only enjoy four bottles of wine (personalized to their tastes), but they'll receive a code that grants them access to three free months of Peacock Premium, where you can catch premium events live (including Men's basketball). We think the Olympics pairs perfectly well with some vino, don't you agree?

Christina Izzo

Christina Izzo is the Deputy Editor of My Imperfect Life. 

More generally, she is a writer-editor covering food and drink, travel, lifestyle and culture in New York City. She was previously the Features Editor at Rachael Ray In Season and Reveal, as well as the Food & Drink Editor and chief restaurant critic at Time Out New York

When she’s not doing all that, she can probably be found eating cheese somewhere.