When is the Olympics opening ceremony? Start date and UK time for Tokyo Games 2021 launch - and how to watch

The Tokyo Olympics 2020 opening ceremony will look very different to years before due to the Covid pandemic

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 10:54 am

The largest sporting event in the world, the Olympic Games, is about to kick off in Tokyo after being postponed for a year due to the Covid pandemic.

Sports fans around the world are preparing to support their country in myriad events, from tennis to football to gymnastics.

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Team GB are poised to compete in the Tokyo Olympics 2020 (Composite: Mark Hall/JPI Media)

So, when is the Tokyo Olympics 2020 opening ceremony, what will it look like this year and how can you watch it?

Here’s everything you need to know.

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When is the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony?

Graphic: Kim Mogg/JPI Media

The Tokyo Olympic 2020 Games opening ceremony will take place on Friday 23 July 2021.

But the show doesn’t mark the beginning of the Games, with the first events, such as football and softball tournaments, actually taking place a couple of days earlier on Wednesday 21 July.

The Games conclude with the closing ceremony on Sunday 8 August.

What time does it start in the UK?

You’ll need to cancel any Friday lunchtime plans if you want to watch this year’s opening ceremony, as it all kicks off at 12pm in the UK, or 8pm local time in Tokyo.

It’s scheduled to run for three hours.

Where is the Olympics opening ceremony being held?

Like years gone by, the opening ceremony will be held in the main Olympic Stadium as tradition dictates.

The arena will also host athletics and football during the Tokyo Games.

What is the theme?

The theme of the ceremony is “United by Emotion”. It’s thought that the show may make reference to the challenges faced by the world during the pandemic.

Apart from that, specific details of the ceremony have been kept under wraps, although there’s some speculation that Japan’s innovative technology and beloved video game characters, such as Mario, will feature.

But the lack of fans in the stadium will lead to the festivities being a little more low-key than originally planned.

Who is allowed to attend the Olympics opening ceremony?

There will be no fans allowed to watch the 2020 Olympics amidst concerns of rising Covid cases in Japan.

International fans had already been banned from going to the Games, but it was estimated there would be 10,000 people watching the opening ceremony at the main stadium, which has a capacity of 68,000.

But the Japanese Government declared a state of emergency just weeks before the events started meaning spectators are now not allowed at most venues.

Organisers of the Tokyo Games have subsequently restricted attendance at the opening ceremony to a limited number of VIPs, according to reports in Japanese media.

This will include people connected to sponsors, as well as diplomats and other special guests, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper said.

It’s also unclear how many athletes will participate in the “Parade of Nations”.

Japan’s state of emergency will be in place until 22 August, spanning the entirety of the sporting event.

Tokyo 2020 president, Seiko Hashimoto, said: “It is regrettable that we are delivering the Games in a very limited format, facing the spread of coronavirus infections.

“I am sorry to those who purchased tickets and everyone in local areas.”

More than 3.5million tickets for events had been purchased by people in Japan.

How can I watch the Olympics opening ceremony?

The ceremony will be shown live on BBC One and Eurosport on TV, and it can also be streamed via the BBC iPlayer if you’re a TV licence fee payer.

Eurosport subscribers can stream the event via the Eurosport Player app.