As parts of the world struggle to return to normalcy, the Olympics returns to our screens as the first major global sports gathering in over a year. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last year, and even now, spectators can attend only specific events at the rescheduled Olympic Games. The events began on July 20—though the opening ceremony didn’t takes place until July 23—and run through August 8.
Even if you have ditched your cable subscription, you can still watch the Olympic Games, from the lighting of the torch to the closing ceremony. Our guide covers all the information you need to choose the best streaming service for watching the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 games.
How to Watch the Olympics Without Cable
NBC is the home of the Olympics in the US, so you should check out your local NBC station for prime-time coverage. Your live TV streaming service probably includes NBC, since it’s one of the major broadcasting channels in the US. Olympic sports will also air on CNBC, Golf Channel, NBCSN, Olympics Channel, and USA. Peacock, NBC’s movie and television streaming service, is another place to find Olympic coverage, including the “Tokyo Live” show featuring highlights from multiple sports. If you have a Roku device or Roku TV, you can stream all of NBC’s coverage of the Olympics from the NBC Sports channel or Peacock channel. If you don’t want to use a streaming service, you can also pick up NBC over the air with some effort and an antenna.
NBCOlympics.com is another place to watch the Olympics. The website shows highlights from all 33 sports along with the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and medal ceremonies.
The Olympics Event Schedule
The Opening Ceremony for Tokyo 2020 is scheduled for July 23 at 6:55 a.m. EST on NBC, but we’ve been watching Olympic coverage since the softball started on July 20 on NBCSN.
Below are some highlights from popular events featuring Team USA from the summer Olympics television schedule for the next week, along with the channel you need to watch the events. You can keep up with the results and medal counts, plus view complete scheduling information on NBC’s Olympics website.
Track & Field, Diving @ 12 a.m. EDT on NBC
Canoe/Kayak @ 1 a.m. EDT on CNBC
Basketball: Men’s Quarterfinal @ 4:15 a.m. EDT on USA
Skateboarding, Volleyball @ 12:05 a.m. EDT on NBC
Wrestling @ 12:30 a.m. EDT on Olympic Channel
Water Polo @ 1 a.m. EDT on CNBC
Beach Volleyball @ 2:15 a.m. EDT on CNBC
Men’s Volleyball @ 12:05 a.m. EDT on NBC
Field Hockey @ 1:30 a.m. EDT on CNBC
Diving: Platform @ 2 a.m. EDT on USA
Beach Volleyball @ 2 a.m. EDT on NBC
Canoe/Kayak, Basketball @ 12:05 a.m. EDT on NBC
Diving: Platform @ 2 a.m. EDT on USA
Cycling @ 2 a.m. EDT on CNBC
Cable and Over-the-Air Options
You can also watch much of the Olympic coverage with a cable plan that includes the NBCUniversal family of channels. A cable plan is typically more expensive than live streaming alternatives, but it’s great for people who want to get the largest possible variety of cable TV networks for one price.
Want to watch other sports? Check out our roundup of the best sports streaming services. The other major sport airing right now is baseball. MLB fans should read our guide to the best MLB streaming services.
Watching Foreign Olympic Coverage With a VPN
NBC has, in the past, come under criticism for overly talky, sometimes uninformed coverage of some Olympic events. Maybe you’re looking to avoid this sort of thing, or maybe you come from another country and just want to see the coverage in your home accent or language. You may also want to watch events or earlier heats that NBC just doesn’t cover.
Whatever the reason, your most realistic option is probably to stream coverage from an overseas provider, using one of our top-rated VPNs (we’ve tested scores of them) to make the streamer in question think you are located in the country in which it is located. There are plenty of technical and ethical issues involved in doing so, however, which we cover in our article on spoofing your location with a VPN.