Tokyo Olympics: Friday’s Viewing Schedule

The Opening Ceremony is among the highlights of Friday’s viewing schedule as the Tokyo Olympics officially open the games.

NBC will feature unprecedented full-day coverage of the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics this Friday, July 23. It all leads up into the primetime presentation of the Ceremony, which is always popular with viewers. However, the day begins on NBC with the network’s first-ever live morning broadcast of an Opening Ceremony, followed by a special edition of TODAY with reaction and athlete interviews and then NBC’s first-ever Olympic Daytime show on the opening Friday of the Games.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Tokyo Opening Ceremony will be different. There will be no fans allowed at this year’s games since Japan is under a state of emergency. However, it will be the first major global gathering especially for the athletes.

Award-winning journalist and co-anchor of TODAY Savannah Guthrie will join NBC Olympics’ primetime host Mike Tirico to host the Opening Ceremony. Guthrie hosts her first Opening Ceremony, while Tirico handles his second (PyeongChang in 2018).

NBC Olympics’ track & field reporter Lewis Johnson and swimming reporter Michele Tafoya will serve as reporters for the Opening Ceremony, Johnson for the second time (Salt Lake in 2002) and Tafoya for the third consecutive Summer Games.

The NBC primetime broadcast, beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT, will feature:

  • Performances, pageantry and the Parade of Athletes
  • Extensive coverage of Team USA, including athlete interviews with Johnson and Tafoya
  • Dwayne Johnson introducing Team USA
  • Leslie Odom Jr. telling the story of the hopes and dreams of Olympians, in an opening vignette
  • Uma Thurman narrating a special feature, leading into the Parade of Athletes

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, including participation by TODAY anchors who viewers welcome into their homes each morning. 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.

A special edition of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon airs on NBC following the Opening Ceremony (times in chart below). In addition, throughout Olympic coverage will be the “Fallon Five,” five minutes of special “Tonight Show” content. The “Fallon Five” begins Thursday, July 29 and concludes Sunday, Aug. 8, the night of the Closing Ceremony. One special segment will include a new Olympic spin on the classic Tonight Show segment “Thank You Notes.”

The NBC primetime coverage of the Tokyo Opening Ceremony will also be encored overnight, allowing viewers another opportunity to experience this historic moment and creating a near Ceremony takeover of NBC.

In addition, NBC Olympics will give this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games viewers of all abilities the opportunity to enjoy the excitement of the Games through closed captioning, audio description, and digital content accessibility.

NBC Olympics commentators and executives look ahead to the Opening Ceremony and the competition:

NBC Olympics primetime and Opening Ceremony host Mike Tirico on the Opening Ceremony: “The Opening Ceremony is a memorable part of any Olympic Games, but perhaps it has never carried more meaning given the circumstances the world has been facing.”

Co-anchor of TODAY and Opening Ceremony host Savannah Guthrie: “[People] want to watch that moment when someone’s life changes before your eyes. I’m excited. I think people are going to really catch the fever. There is nothing like the Olympics.”

NBC Olympics executive producer Molly Solomon: “This really is an amazing moment when the world truly comes together for the very first time as we begin to emerge from some really, really challenging times.”

NBC Olympics gymnastics analyst Nastia Liukin on Simone Biles: “There’s no doubt she’s going to be amazing. She’s favored to win five medals, possibly all gold, and further solidify her status as the greatest ever.”

NBC Olympics swimming analyst Rowdy Gaines on the outlook for USA Swimming in Tokyo: “This will be a great team. It’s a young team…If you’re looking for big stars, we have them on the U.S. side…We’ve got great stories across the board.”

Gaines on Katie Ledecky: “In my opinion (she is) the greatest female swimmer in history. I don’t think it’s even close…She could be the first American woman in history in any sport to win 10 gold medals.”

NBC Olympics track & field analyst Ato Boldon on the outlook for USA Track & Field in Tokyo: “This is maybe the most balanced USA track & field team that there’s ever been.”


All Times ET

6:55 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Live Opening Ceremony Coverage
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Special Edition of TODAY
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Tokyo Olympics Daytime
7:30 p.m. – Midnight Primetime Opening Ceremony
12:35 a.m.-1:38 a.m.* Special Edition of “Tonight Show”
1:38 a.m. – 5:00 a.m.* Encore of Opening Ceremony

All Times PT

3:55 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. Live Opening Ceremony Coverage
8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Special Edition of TODAY
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Tokyo Olympics Daytime
4:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Primetime Opening Ceremony
9:10 p.m. – 1:10 a.m. Opening Ceremony Primetime Encore
1:10 a.m. – 2:13 a.m.* Special Edition of “Tonight Show”
2:13 a.m. – 5:00 a.m.* Overnight Opening Ceremony Encore

*July 24

The U.S. Women’s Water Polo team, aiming for a third consecutive Olympic gold medal, begins tournament play against host nation Japan from Tatsumi Water Polo Centre late Friday night at 1 a.m. ET on NBCSN. The rest of Friday’s schedule follows below.


7:30 p.m. – 2 a.m.

Rowing – Qualifying Heats & Repechages (LIVE)

Cycling – Men’s Road Race (LIVE)


2 a.m. – 4 a.m.

Men’s Soccer – Mexico vs. France

4 a.m. – 6 a.m.

Men’s Soccer – Japan vs. South Africa

6 a.m. – 8 a.m.

Men’s Soccer – Brazil vs. Germany

8 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Softball – U.S. vs. Italy

Softball – U.S. vs. Canada

Rowing – Qualifying Heats

1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – U.S. vs. Sweden

3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – Japan vs. Canada

5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Women’s Soccer – Australia vs. New Zealand

12 a.m. – 1 a.m.

3×3 Basketball

Archery – Mixed Team Elimination Rounds

1 a.m. – 2 a.m.

Women’s Water Polo – U.S. vs. Japan (LIVE)


10 p.m. – 2 a.m.

Tennis (LIVE)

Men’s Singles, First Round

Women’s Singles, First Round

Men’s and Women’s Doubles, First Round

The Tokyo Olympics run July 23-August 8, 2021 and will be broadcast across the NBC family of networks.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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