The 2021 Olympics are almost here. After being postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this summer’s games will take place in Tokyo from July 23 until Aug. 8. Though thousands of Olympians from across the globe are currently arriving to the city’s Olympic Village, the event won’t officially begin until the Olympic Opening Ceremony this Friday.
Typically a star-studded affair with thousands of spectators, this year’s event will be significantly scaled back — but spectacular, nonetheless. Read more below for everything you should know to watch the 2021 Olympics Opening Ceremony.
How to Watch the Olympics Opening Ceremony
The Opening Ceremony will premiere at 7 a.m. ET on July 23 and will begin airing exclusively on NBC and its affiliate networks. There will be a primetime broadcast airing at 7:30 p.m. ET, with an overnight replay beginning on July 24 at 12:35 a.m. ET, as well.
You can also watch the Ceremony live on NBC Sports Network, CNBC, USA and the Golf Channel. To stream the Ceremony on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports mobile app, viewers will need a cable subscription. Free trial versions are available for YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, AT&T TV Now, FuboTV, or Sling TV. In Spanish, it will also air on Telemundo and Universo.
What Will Happen At the Opening Ceremony?
During the opening ceremony for the Olympics, the host country’s flag — in this case, Japan — is raised, and its national anthem will be performed, for those in attendance. Artistic presentations of music, dance, song, and theater will be shown that represent Japan’s unique history and culture, followed by the Parade of Nations and release of doves to symbolize peacefulness. The Games will be opened by the Japanese head of state, Shinzō Abe, followed by the Olympic flag’s raising and a performance of the Olympic anthem. An athlete, official and coach will take the Olympic oath, which is concluded with the lighting of the Olympic flame and a torch relay.
This year’s performance is unknown, though — if past performances are any indication — there could be thousands of performers completing elaborate dance and musical numbers, as well as appearances by Japanese celebrities. The musical performers for the Olympics are also unknown at this time; past musicians have included Celine Dion, Paul McCartney, Kygo, Bjork and Kylie Minogue.
However, the annual Parade of Nations order — where each team presents its flags, athletes, and officials — will be different this year. Traditionally, Greece — the founding country of the Olympics — will lead the parade, alphabetically followed by the rest of the teams and the host country leading the rear. For the 2021 Parade at Japan’s New National Stadium, host countries for upcoming Games will also be recognized. This means that, prior to Japan’s concluding entrance, the French and US teams (hosts for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics, respectively) will march first.
Who is Attending?
The crowd will be sparse at the Olympic Ceremony this year, as international and local spectators have been banned from the event, according to WUSA9. Athletes’ families and friends will also not be attending, though a remote viewing party for Team USA will be held in Orlando, Fla. This is due to Japan’s current state of emergency, as COVID-19 cases have risen in the country over the last several weeks. However, the Ceremony will be attended by International Olympic committee officials, sponsors, and international dignitaries — including first lady Jill Biden. “Today’s” Savannah Guthrie will be corresponding live in Tokyo for the occasion as well.
What Will The Athletes Wear?
Athletes for Team USA have traditionally been outfitted on and off of the court by Ralph Lauren and his affiliate brands since 2008. This year, Lauren’s Opening Ceremony uniforms for Team USA aims to celebrate America’s “pioneering spirit and tradition.” Outfits feature a sustainably-made navy blazer and striped T-shirt, as well as a printed scarf, shoes and a face mask. Team USA’s flag bearer will also wear a new cooling technology from the brand, called RL Cooling, which will regulate their temperature during the Olympic and Paralympic Opening Ceremony parades.
Click through the gallery for more standout footwear moments from the Olympics over the years.