When is the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics? 2021’s event will be 'sobering'

Different from years past, the Olympics Opening Ceremony is making significant changes in 2021

A boat sails past the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Rings on March 25, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.
(Image credit: Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

When is the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics? 2021's kickoff event will certainly look different, but the sporty show will go on. 

After being delayed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Summer Olympics 2021 is set to get underway on Friday, July 23rd. However, the usual pomp and circumstance of the international event will be significantly trimmed, and viewers tuning in—as in-person spectators have been banned—can expect a "sobering" starting event. 

Marco Balich, the executive producer of the Olympics opening ceremonies, spoke to Reuters and explained how the event will be a scaled-down version of its typical fare. Props, choreography, and a packed stadium are not in the cards in 2021. 

"It will be very meaningful, far from the grandiosity of previous ceremonies," Balich told the news wire. "The moment is now. It is a beautiful effort. A very truthful, honest ceremony, nothing fake."

Balich said to expect Japanese aesthetics and a near-empty venue, as only a few hundred officials will be scattered about. The Opening Ceremony will take place on Friday, July 23rd at 8pm in Tokyo. There will be 11,000 athletes present from 206 countries. For contrast, in the 2016 games, there were 12,600 athletes in attendance. 

According to TIME, fans can still expect beloved traditions, including an artistic program, the parade of athletes (though greatly reduced), the lighting of the Olympic flame, and the release of the doves of peace. We'll fill you in on how to watch the atypical tradition—which hopefully will be the only one of its kind, as Balich notes. 

When is the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics 2021?

Catch the event on Friday, July 23rd at 8pm in Tokyo at Japan’s New National Stadium, which is located in the Shinjuku ward of Tokyo. Considering Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of the Eastern time zone in the U.S., viewers can catch it live on NBC at 7am ET (4am PT) or via NBC's livestream

If you're concerned about your sleep (and understandably so), Friday night primetime shows will air the ceremony once more beginning at 7:30pm ET, which you can catch on NBC, according to the network's TV lineup.

For those based in the UK, live coverage of the Olympics will be on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, and BBC Red Button. Check out the network's day-by-day guide for updates. In Australia, Seven and 7plus are gearing up for Olympics coverage. 

Elsewhere, you can catch the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics using a trusted VPN. 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.

The Opening Ceremony of the Olympics was first held in Athens in 1896, but this is arguably the first time the event has been so drastically altered. Here's hoping for a fun, safe environment for the athletes. Even though the world is so chaotic right now, at least we know we're in this together—and the Olympics is proof. 

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.