When do the Paralympics start? Tokyo 2020's schedule, events, ways to watch and more

When do the Paralympics start? Tokyo 2020's global games aren't over yet!

ui Kamiji of Team Japan in action during a training session ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at Ariake Tennis Park on August 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
(Image credit: Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty)

When do the Paralympics start? This year's global sporting events have yet to come to a close after the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics wrapped up. Now the Paralympics will get their time in the spotlight. 

The games prove that everyone, no matter their age, background or abilities, can follow their passions and pursue a sport they love—just ask the 4,500 Paralympians attending the Games, from over 160 countries. So, who's ready?

When do the Paralympics start? Tokyo 2020's dates and schedule

The Tokyo 2020 Summer Paralympic Games begin on Tuesday, August 24, 2021 (blame Covid for the year's delay!) and run until Sunday, September 5th. During this time, fans will be able to catch 539 events across 22 sports, which will take place at a total of 21 venues. Think you can keep up?

When is the Paralympics opening ceremony?

The kickoff will take place on Tuesday, August 24—from 7am ET, 12pm UK and 8pm local time in Tokyo. The Olympic Stadium, which hosted the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Tokyo Summer Olympics, will also do the honors for the Paralympics.

How to watch the Paralympics in the US for free

Don't want to miss any of the big events? You don't have to: NBCOlympics.com is the home of the 2020 Paralympics with a detailed guide to all the events that will be live streaming. NBC is making the live streams available across all its channels: Peacock (premium subscription not required), NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports App. 

How to watch the Paralympics in the UK and Australia for free

Channel 4 is, as usual, the go-to source for all things Paralympian in the UK.  This year, Channel 4 is providing more than 1,300 hours of free coverage—live, on-demand and a daily round-up, presented by Paralympic medalist, Ade Adepitan. There'll be no chance of missing the dancing horses, no matter when you tune in.

In Australia, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will be broadcast across the Seven Network, which is going hard on the coverage with interviews, live sports and replays available. Head to 7plus to stream all the action from Tokyo, for free.

How to watch the Paralympics anywhere in the world

If you're away from home—and your usual streaming service—you can always turn to a VPN service to watch the Paralympic Games. A VPN  is a handy piece of software that allows you to browse anonymously and change your IP address so your mobile or computer thinks it's in another location. This means you can watch your favorite events—even if you’re on vacation.

Our recommended VPN service—for ease of use, value for money and its money-back guarantee—is ExpressVPN, rated the best VPN in the world by our colleagues at TechRadar.

Paralympians to watch out for

Whether you're a veteran Paralympian or brand new to the sports scene, everyone wants to make their mark at the Games. From the established sports like Wheelchair rugby to the events making their debut this year, there are plenty of stars to keep an eye on this year as the Paralympics get underway. Here are a few we're going to be rooting for! 

Liu Yutong (China, badminton) 

At just 17 years old, Liu Yutong is already a two-time World Championship gold medallist in women’s WH2 singles. The 2017 World Championship is when she nailed her first gold medal, at a mere 13 years old. She'll be among the debut badminton players. 

Liu lost her legs after a car accident when she was just four years old, which led to her journey to badminton star. Originally starting out in Para table tennis, before switching to Para badminton—the switch certainly seems to be working out in her favor!

Scout Bassett (US, Para-athletics) 

Nothing can stop this sprinter. Though dealing with an array of hardships—losing her right leg in a chemical fire, being abandoned at one-and-a-half years old, and spending nearly seven years in an orphanage—Bassett proved victorious. 

She is a five-time World Championship medalist in track and field and graduated from UCLA in 2011. 

Ellie Cole (Australia, Para-swimming)

Ellie Cole had her right leg amputated due to cancer, at just three years old. However, once she started her rehab activities two months later, swimming became natural. Then, she took over the sport. 

Cole, who is now 29, is the reigning champion in the 100m backstroke S9. She is the proud recipient of 15 Paralympic medals, six of which are gold, according to The Guardian

Birgit Skarstein (Norway, Para-rowing)

The multi-talented Birgit Skarstein has us agog with her capacity to shift gears. In the Tokyo Summer Paralympics, she's competing in the rowing events—and as the reigning World Champion in the single scull, she's a firm favorite to medal. Just a few months later, in March 2022, she'll be strapping on her cross-country skis for the Beijing Winter Paralympics.  

As if two world-class sporting talents aren't enough, Birgit also appeared on the Norwegian version of So You Think You Can Dance, in 2020, becoming the first wheelchair dancer on the show.

There are a total of 28 sports included in the Paralympic Games, 22 of which take place during the summer competition. This year, the newest sports to join the ranks are badminton and tae kwon do, both of which will make their debut in Tokyo. Here's the full list of Paralympic sports:

  • Archery
  • Athletics
  • Badminton
  • Boccia
  • Canoe
  • Cycling
  • Equestrian
  • Football 5-a-side
  • Goalball
  • Judo
  • Powerlifting
  • Rowing
  • Shooting Para sport
  • Sitting volleyball
  • Swimming
  • Table tennis
  • Taekwondo
  • Triathlon
  • Wheelchair basketball 
  • Wheelchair fencing
  • Wheelchair rugby (formerly called Murderball!)
  • Wheelchair tennis
Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.