After a yearlong delay, the opening ceremony for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is almost here. But with social distancing and no fans, the ceremony, much like the Games, will look a lot different.
The opening ceremony for the Olympics is scheduled for Friday night in Tokyo. But the 13-hour time difference with Tokyo means it will be Friday morning in the Eastern time zone of the United States.
NBC will have a live morning broadcast of the ceremony starting at 6:55 a.m Eastern time, marking the first time the network has ever had a live morning broadcast of the event. Savannah Guthrie, the anchor for “Today,” and NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico will host NBC’s coverage. The ceremony can also be streamed on the NBC Sports App and on NBCOlympics.com
Afterward, NBC will also broadcast a special edition of “Today” that includes athlete interviews, followed by an Olympic daytime show.
Similar to years past, the network will air a packaged prime time version of the ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on Friday. Coverage will also be replayed again overnight for viewers who missed earlier broadcasts.
One of the highlights of the opening ceremony is the Parade of Nations. U.S. women’s basketball player Sue Bird, who has won gold four times, and baseball player Eddy Alvarez, a 2014 silver medalist in speedskating, will be the flag bearers for the United States and will lead the delegation of more than 230 U.S. players. (There are 613 athletes total on Team U.S.A.)
“It’s an incredible honor to be selected the flag bearer for Team USA,” Bird said in a statement.
Alvarez, too, said he was humbled by the selection. “It is an honor and a privilege to be named as one of the flag bearers by my fellow Team U.S.A. athletes for the opening ceremony. Being a first-generation Cuban-American, my story represents the American dream,” Alvarez said.
Athletes will parade through a largely empty Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, as spectators have been barred from most of the Games. Performers at this year’s lineup have not yet been announced. And NBC has no plans to add background noise that mimics the fans in the stands throughout the Games, NBC Olympics executive producer Molly Solomon said during a call last week. That’s a departure from last year, when most broadcasters would pipe in recorded fans for games during the pandemic.
The opening ceremony comes at a time when games have already been underway in Tokyo, and anxieties about the virus are high. Tokyo’s infection rate hit a six-month high. Adding to that anxiety is the flurry of announcements about Olympic participants testing positive, including those inside the Olympic Village.
Other news has also overshadowed the event in recent days.
On Thursday, organizers of the Games dismissed Kentaro Kobayashi, the creative director of the ceremony, after video footage emerged of him making fun of the Holocaust in a comedic act in the 1990s.
Mr. Kobayashi’s dismissal followed the resignation of the composer who had written music for the opening ceremony, after excerpts from interviews he had given in the 1990s confessing to severe bullying and abuse of disabled classmates surfaced on social media.