For the next two-and-a-bit weeks of the Tokyo Games, five billion sports fans around the globe will be entertained – and virtually embraced – as they are offered an unprecedented catalogue of viewing options across 20 different platforms.
With no spectators inside stadiums, on the track, at equestrian events or inside swimming pool complexes, there are digital programs galore to help fans interact with athletes and feel like they’re close to the action.
The Games officially begin with the opening ceremony on Friday at 8.30pm on Seven.
The Seven Network has secured exclusive broadcasting rights for the Games, and for the first time in Australian free-to air television history, there are 45 dedicated channels on Seven and 7plus, all live and free.
You can see what’s on, and when, create a watchlist to follow your favourite events, catch up on highlights and go down memory lane in the most live-streaming ever hosted by an Australian broadcaster.
And guess who’s back to breathe life into the games?
None other than veteran broadcaster of 11 Olympics, Bruce McAvaney, who says he’s privileged to be covering “the greatest show on Earth”.
McAvaney will cover the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics, and be the passionate, seat-of-your-pants voice of all the athletics action. You’ll feel like you’re there.
Come on, who can forget his calling of Cathy Freeman’s 400-metre race at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
“Away”. And apologies in advance. There’s 100,000 people in the stadium.
Tokyo Olympics 2020 viewing guide
If you don’t care about the AFL match between Collingwood and Port Adelaide on Friday night, the opening ceremony promises to be delicately balanced between spectacular and COVID appropriate, and will be broadcast from 8.30pm.
The time zone is just one hour behind us (AEST) so you won’t need to wake at 4am to watch the men’s water polo, or my favourites of all time – gymnastics and the equestrian events.
McAvaney will be joined by 37 expert commentators including five-time Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe, and 13 hosts to chair the various Seven programs from dawn till late into the night.
Live events have already begun with softball and soccer teams competing – the Matildas embraced the early Games spotlight and cleverly beat New Zealand (2-1) on July 21.
Here’s a snapshot of what not to miss over the 16 days of competition.
Week one: Day 1 to Day 8
- July 24 – World’s best road cyclists race for gold at foot of Mount Fuji; Men’s hockey AUS v Japan; Women’s football AUS v Sweden; Men’s and women’s beach volleyball
- July 25 – Men’s 400m freestyle; women’s 4x100m freestyle; Men’s street skateboarding final; Women’s road cycling race; Men’s basketball AUS v Nigeria; Men’s hockey AUS v India
- July 26 – Men’s triathlon; Women’s 400m freestyle Ariarne Titmus v Katie Ledecky; Men’s 4x100m freestyle; Women’s water polo AUS v Netherlands; Men’s team final artistic gymnastics
- July 27 – Women’s triathlon; Men’s and women’s quad sculls rowing finals; women’s K1 final (Jess Fox); Women’s football AUS v USA; Women’s basketball AUS v Belgium; women’s artistic gymnastics team final
- July 28 – Surfing men’s and women’s finals (first Olympic gold medal); Men’s and women’s rowing fours, women’s double sculls; individual road cycling; Men’s hockey AUS v NZ; three basketball medal matches
- July 29 – Men’s 100m freestyle (Kyle Chalmers); men’s and women’s trap finals; canoe slalom women’s C1 final; Men’s water polo AUS v Serbia; artistic gymnastics women’s final; women’s hockey AUS v NZ
- July 30 – Men’s and women’s rowing eight; BMX racing finals; Women’s 100m freestyle (Cate Campbell); Football quarter-finals; Men’s 10,000m athletics final; Women’s basketball AUS v China
- July 31 – Triathlon mixed relay final; Mixed 4x100m medley relay; tennis final; Men’s basketball AUS v TBC; women’s rugby (AUS team fights to defend Olympic title); women’s athletics 100m final
Week Two: Day 9 to Day 16
- August 1 – Golf; BMX freestyle finals; 50m freestyle finals; gymnastics finals; women’s water polo AUS v South Africa; Athletics men’s 100m final (a new champion?)
- August 2 – Women’s hockey quarter-finals; beach volleyball; cycling team pursuit; equestrian eventing final; women’s football semi-finals; Women’s discus final
- August 3 – Canoe sprint finals; sailing mixed race medals; women’s team pursuit cycling; basketball Men’s quarter-finals; women’s athletics 200m final; Women’s quarter-final beach volleyball
- August 4 – Skateboarding women’s park final; sailing Men’s 470 medal race (Mat Belcher and Will Ryan); men’s cycling team final; Men’s athletics 200m, 800m finals; women’s basketball quarter-finals; women’s hockey semis
- August 5 – Canoe spring finals; skateboarding finals; women’s diving 10m platform; men’s climbing combined final; women’s pole vault, men’s 400m finals; men’s hockey gold medal match
- August 6 – Women’s beach volleyball medal matches; Women’s gold medal football; cycling sprint finals; women’s hockey gold medal match; women’s javelin and 400m, men’s 5000m, 4x100m relays finals; women’s basketball semi-finals
- August 7 – women’s marathon; men’s basketball gold medal; women’s water polo gold medal; equestrian jumping team final; men’s basketball bronze
- August 8 – Men’s marathon; rhythmic gymnastics final; women’s basketball gold medal
- Closing ceremony 8.30pm
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Come on!
If you were planning to be a spectator in Tokyo, and are desperate for more engaging, interactive experiences, head to the official olympics.com website, where you’ll discover a range of digital options to satisfy your fandom.
Everyone is acutely aware of empty stadiums at these Games, especially athletes, many of whom are motivated by the crowd, the emotion of being an Olympian and the joy that comes with inspiring another generation of champions.
And now fans can set up chatrooms to talk to athletes, make an Airbnb booking via Tokyo Together to speak to an athlete, and even film themselves “performing to the rhythm to cheer” for their favourite athlete on Tokyo 2020 Make the Beat, and have their moves splashed onto big screens during matches.
IOC director of digital engagement and marketing Christopher Carroll says it’s all designed around the “ambition to not only connect with fans around the world, but also to create something memorable that will inspire people through the values of the Olympics”.
So sit back and enjoy.
And as McAvaney ponders: “Their creativity and ability to think outside the square has propelled us to this point”.
“This I do know: Every Olympic Games delivers shocks and surprises, devastating disappointments and incredible achievements.
“It’s the best of the best. History as it’s being written.”