The Tokyo 2020 Olympics kicks off Friday, July 23, with a ban on both domestic and foreign spectators at the venues in Tokyo and three other prefectures. Another resurging wave of Covid-19 cases has forced the Tokyo government to declare its fourth state of emergency earlier this month, with the city prohibiting alcohol servings and enforcing business closing time to 8pm in an attempt to curb down the growing case numbers.
Meanwhile, Japanese Health Minister Tamura Norihisa has urged the public to avoid watching the year-delayed Olympics at high-risk areas such as sports bars and drinking establishments. This means the Olympics will be a primarily TV-only event. Fear not — for those living in Japan, you still have plenty of viewing options. Here’s a complete rundown on how to watch the Tokyo 2020 Olympics from home.
Expect a full-time broadcast from NHK
Olympics will have main coverage on traditional cable TV. The Japan Consortium, the joint venture between Japan’s official TV channel and several broadcasters, has won the right to stream the games live to its subscribers. Currently, six confirmed networks will stream the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Japan’s public broadcaster NHK has gained full rights to air all competitions and televise the event from July 21–August 8. Dubbed as the “largest scale of its kind in history,” NHK will run full-time transmissions of the games on satellite channels and the internet. For the general TV tournaments, programs will be streamed from 8am–12pm on BS4K and BS8K, as well as NHK General TV, BS1 and radios.
In addition to that, there will be a special Olympic 2020 site that includes exclusive recordings of 33 competitions, predicted to span for about 3,000 hours. Please keep in mind that you cannot watch the programs unless you are registered as an NHK subscriber.
Private TV networks to rotate Tokyo 2020 Olympics broadcasting
Meanwhile, five other major Tokyo-based private TV networks will take turns covering the Games on rotating days: Nippon Television, TV Asahi, Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) Television, Fuji Television and TV Tokyo. This means that other than the opening day, only one network will get exclusive rights to air the Tokyo 2020 daily relays for certain competitions, while other stations will not. J:COM TV has also confirmed that it will do recordings and live streamings on seven sports: 3×3 basketball, boxing, golf, hockey, modern pentathlon, sailing and sports climbing.
TV distribution schedule for Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Click here for the complete schedule of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics schedule that spans from July 21 to September 5. Please keep in mind that some channels will air recordings instead of on-air broadcasts on certain competitions.
Week 1: Jul 21–25
- Wed, Jul 21: NHK and TBS
- Thu, Jul 22: NHK and Nippon Television
- Fri, Jul 23: NHK and Fuji TV
- Sat, Jul 24: NHK, TV Asahi, Fuji TV and J:COM TV
- Sun, Jul 25: NHK, TV Asahi, TV Tokyo and J:COM TV
Week 2: Jul 26–Aug 1
- Mon, Jul 26: NHK, TV Asahi, TBS, Fuji TV and J:COM TV
- Tue, Jul 27: NHK, Nippon Television, TV Asahi and J:COM TV
- Wed, Jul 28: NHK, TBS, Fuji TV, J:COM TV
- Thu, Jul 29: NHK, TV Asahi, TV Tokyo and J:COM TV
- Fri, Jul 30: NHK, TBS, Fuji TV System, J:COM TV
- Sat, Jul 31: NHK, Nippon Television, TV Asahi, TBS and J:COM TV
- Sun, Aug 1: NHK, Nippon Television, TBS and J:COM TV
Week 3: Aug 2-8
- Mon, Aug 2: NHK, TV Asahi, TBS, Fuji TV and J:COM TV
- Tue, Aug 3: NHK, Nippon Television, TBS, Fuji TV and J:COM TV
- Wed, Aug 4: NHK, Nippon Television, TBS, TV Tokyo and J:COM TV
- Thu, Aug 5: NHK, Nippon Television, TBS, TV Tokyo and J:COM TV
- Fri, Aug 6: NHK, TV Asahi, TBS, Fuji TV, TV Tokyo and J:COM TV
- Sat, Aug 7: NHK, Nippon Television, TV Asahi and J:COM TV
- Sun, Aug 8: NHK, TV Asahi, TBS, Fuji TV and J:COM TV
The closing ceremony will be aired on NHK General.
Visit Gorin and NHK if you prefer official online streaming — for free
TVer, a free distribution service for TV programs operated by the five major broadcasting stations, has announced that it will livestream all Tokyo 2020 Olympics competitions with live commentary in Japanese. The Olympics special page called Gorin.jp was released on Friday, July 16, and will feature live commentaries in Japanese. You will be able to stream Olympics coverage completely free of charge from your PCs, smartphones and tablets. The distribution time is expected to be about 600 hours and includes highlight videos and longer live distributions. Visit gorin.jp.
You will also be able to stream live matches on a special NHK Olympics page as some games will only be streamed on either platforms.