Tokyo Olympics Feature New Games and New Variations

Tokyo Olympic Games

With the COVID-19 pandemic to blame, many people have been keeping their fingers crossed in hopes of seeing the “2020” games really happen. Earlier this month it was decided that no spectators would be allowed to watch the events. More athletes are testing positive and even at this late date, some leaders in Tokyo are still calling for the canceling the games. However, assuming all will go as planned, this year’s games will be a confusing one for sure. Viewers will have more opportunities than ever to watch the various sports both live and recorded, but trying to find what competitions will be shown when and where will prove to be a challenge. Some listings on the web even feature dates and information from a year ago.

First of all, even though the Opening Ceremony will not take place until Friday, some of the games have already started. NBCSN, USA and NBC networks will be airing events like softball and soccer ahead at various times of the day. As for the Opening Ceremony, this year marks the first time that NBC will be airing it live on Friday, July 23 along with rebroadcasts throughout the day and evening. The ceremony will begin at 8 p.m. in Japan which is actually 7 a.m. ET and 4 a.m. PT our time.

In order to provide viewers with the opportunity to share this historic experience with people from around the world as it happens, the Tokyo Opening Ceremony will also be broadcast live on NBC across all time zones starting at 6:55 a.m. ET/3:55 a.m. PT. It can also be streamed live in the NBC Sports app and on This marks the first time NBC Olympics will broadcast an Opening Ceremony live in the morning. With Tokyo 13 hours ahead of the east coast of the United States, the Opening Ceremony begins at 8 p.m. in Japan, which is 7 a.m. ET/4 a.m. PT. The ceremony will be shown again on NBC from 4:30-9 p.m., 9:10-1:10 a.m. on Saturday and 1:10-5 a.m. so if you miss it, it’s really your own fault.

This the 17th airing of the Olympic Games on NBC but viewership has declined during the last few games and viewers have complained by the lack of live broadcasting. This year, NBC is committed to brining over 7,000 hours worth of coverage on NBC, USA, NBC Sports and the streaming service, Peacock. This year also marks a new partnership with Roku who will be presenting “easy access to Olympic covering and Olympics-related entertainment” right from the home screen starting today.

So, these games might be hard to find and when you do, they might not be what you are expecting – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. NBC’s Olympics website is the best place to find out who is competing when and at what time.


New Games

This year, a whopping 339 medals events are happening. Four new sports have been added to the games. Six if you include baseball and softball which are making a comeback since being scrapped back in 2008. Skateboarding will showcase two disciplines: park and street. Park competitions will take place within a dome-shaped bowl with skaters focusing on maintaining good flow through the course while executing tricks whereas the street competitions will feature a course that includes stairs, rails and other “real-world” obstacles.

Surfing will feature both men and women with preliminary-round heats followed by head-to-head knockout competitions. These events will take place at Tsurigasaki Beach in Ichinomiya which is about 45 miles southeast of the Olympic Stadium. Since weather here is a factor, the contest window is very flexible mean that the games could get easily postponed.

Sport Climbing didn’t begin as an organized competition until 1985 and it is just now added to the Olympic Games. NBC says that Sport climbing in Tokyo will be contested as a single event, with all three of the sport’s main disciplines (speed, bouldering, lead) being used in a combined format to determine an overall winner for both men and women. This is different from the usual sport climbing competitions which the three disciplines are treated as separate events. Another wrinkle here is that most people who compete in the sport specialize in one or two of the disciplines, not all three. This could make for some good TV.

Since karate has been popular in Japan since 1868, it is no surprise to see it on the roster this year (however, it won’t be around in the 2024 Games). Two disciplines will be featured: kata and kumite. According to NBC, Kata is the demonstration discipline where athletes are judged on karate techniques, and kumite is the fighting discipline where athletes compete head-to-head. There are three weight classes each for men and women in the kumite discipline.


Old Games, New Events

A number of other sports are expanding this year to include new disciplines. These include the outdoor 3×3 basketball played on a half court. These games end after just 10 minutes or when a team reaches 21 points, whichever come first. The scoring here is a little different too with 1 and 2-pointers instead of 2 and 3-pointers.

Freestyle BMX is new too with no racing involved. It’s all about the tricks performed in a special park not unlike the skateboarding competitions.

And then there will be a number of mixed team events featuring both men and women competing together. These include swimming (mixed 4x100m medley relay) and Track & Field (mixed 4x400m relay) both with two men and two women. Archery will feature teams consisting of one man and one woman, Judo will feature three men and three women from six different weight classes, Shooting (air pistol, air rifle and trap) with consist of teams featuring one man and one woman), Table Tennis (with teams of one man and one woman) and Triathlon that will include teams of two men and two woman with each athlete completing a shorter version of a triathlon known as a super sprint before tagging their next teammate.

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