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Tokyo 2020: what to watch and when

Tokyo 2020: what to watch and when

With 33 sports and 339 events to keep track of, taking place in a country eight hours ahead of the UK, you may find you need a bit of help to stay on top of what’s on…


Chris Miller, Writer

With all the sporting action from Tokyo 2020 available on BBC iPlayer, you won’t miss out on anything – but there’s nothing like watching it live. And there’s so much of it. And it’s all taking place eight hours ahead of British Summer Time (which will mean some early starts for sports fans).

 

So how do you ensure you don’t miss out on cheering Team GB – or your athletes of choice – to victory in your favourite event? Or even in that weird and wonderful sport you’ve never watched before but suddenly seems like the greatest thing ever? Well, from fencing to football, from athletics to archery, from tennis to taekwondo, you’ll find all the best daily action in our Olympic TV viewing guide. Read on to see what awaits you across BBC One HD (CH 101/108) and BBC Two HD (CH 102).

 

Bookmark this page for updates during the games themselves.

 

Wednesday 21 July

Women's football at the Olympic Games

8.15am, Women’s Football Group E: Great Britain v Chile

A full two days before the opening ceremony, Team GB gets the honour of kicking off this year’s Olympics. Coach Hege Riise – herself a gold medallist with Norway in 2000 – has picked a squad with a promising balance of youth and experience, and in striker Fran Kirby, who was named Footballer of the Year as Chelsea powered to the Women’s Super League title, she has a potential player of the tournament. They’ll be heavily favoured to beat a Chilean team playing in their first Olympics.

 

What else to watch:

  • 1am, Softball: Australia v Japan 
  • 9.30am, Women’s Football Group G: Sweden v USA
  • 11.30am, Women’s Football Group G: Australia v New Zealand

 

Thursday 22 July

11.30am, Men’s Football Group D: Brazil v Germany

Because the men’s tournament is an under-23 competition (mostly), this clash between two of football’s global giants isn’t packed with star names – but it could be an indicator of the players you’ll see lighting up the next few World Cups. Reigning champions Brazil have a couple of Premier League starlets in Arsenal’s Gabriel and, er, Gabriel Martinelli (those are definitely two different people) as well as experienced Barcelona defender Dani Alves as one of their overage players, while Germany coach Stefan Kuntz has picked many of the players who recently won the European under-21 championships.

 

What else to watch:

  • 1am, Softball: USA v Canada 
  • 9am, Men’s Football Group A: Mexico v France
  • 10.30am, Men’s Football Group C: Argentina v Australia

 

Friday 23 July

London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony

12pm, Opening Ceremony

Sadly, this won’t be an extravaganza on the scale of London 2012’s memorable spectacle – in fact, we’re not sure what it’ll consist of, since the host nation has consistently downplayed expectations, and the usual cheering crowds will be absent from the Olympic Stadium. But the pageantry of the Parade of Nations is always a stirring sight, getting us all in the mood for a festival of sport like no other. One squad to look out for is the Refugee Olympians, who for the first time will be the second team to enter the arena, after Greece. 

 

What else to watch: 

  • 12.30am, Men’s and Women’s Rowing: Sculls heats
  • 1am, Women’s Archery: Individual ranking round
  • 5am, Men’s Archery: Individual ranking round

 

Saturday 24 July

1pm, 3x3 Basketball: Pool Games

The Olympics has always shown a willingness to embrace new sports and one of those making its Summer Games debut in Tokyo is 3x3 basketball. Derived from street basketball – reputed to be the most popular sport in the world – it’s a scaled-down version of the game with more focus on speed, as well as DJs and music courtside to create a unique atmosphere. You might expect the USA to be favourites but in fact Serbia have won four of the sport’s six men’s World Cups, while all the top women’s international teams are on a similar level. In entertainment terms, it’s (forgive us) a slam dunk!

 

What else to watch: 

  • 3am, Men’s Cycling: Road Race
  • 8.30am, Women’s Football Group E: Japan v Great Britain
  • 10.30am, Men’s Hockey Pool B: Great Britain v South Africa 
  • 11am, Men’s and Women’s Swimming: Heats
  • 11.40am, Men’s Volleyball Pool B: USA v France

 

Sunday 25 July

11am, Taekwondo: Men’s -68kg final and Women’s -57kg final

Among a group of athletes bidding to become the first British women to win gold at three Olympic Games – which includes cyclist Laura Kenny, rower Helen Glover and equestrian Charlotte Dujardin – is Jade Jones, who took GB’s first ever taekwondo gold in London and successfully defended her title in Rio. Still only 27, the Welsh -57kg fighter is heavily tipped to make it a trio of golds, thanks to the form that saw her secure her third European title in April this year. Cheer on Jade on Sunday morning as she spin-kicks her way to (hopefully) triple glory!

 

What else to watch: 

  • 1.30am, Women’s Hockey Pool B: Great Britain v Germany 
  • 2.30am, Men’s and Women’s Swimming: 400m Individual Medley finals 
  • 9am, Equestrian: Dressage Grand Prix Team and Individual Day 2
  • 10.30pm, Men’s Triathlon

 

Monday 26 July

A swimmer at the Olympic Games

2.30am, Men’s and Women’s Swimming: 100m Women’s Butterfly final and Men’s 100m Breaststroke final

Not only is Adam Peaty Britain’s absolute best chance of winning gold in Tokyo, he’s arguably the country’s greatest male swimmer of all time, with a staggering eight world titles and 17 European titles to go with his gold in Rio – not to mention the 50m and 100m breaststroke world records, both of which he’s held since 2015. If you ask us, Adam is worth getting up in the middle of the night for, while GB’s Harriet Jones will also have high hopes in the 100m butterfly. 

 

What else to watch: 

  • 1am, Men’s Rugby Group B: Great Britain v Canada
  • 1.30am, Men’s Hockey Pool B: Great Britain v Canada
  • 6am, Men’s Canoe: Slalom final
  • 10am, Fencing: Men’s Foil Individual final and Women’s Sabre Individual final
  • 11am, Men’s Gymnastics: Artistic final
  • 10.30pm, Women’s Triathlon

 

Tuesday 27 July

9am, Equestrian: Dressage Team Grand Prix Special

One joy of the Olympics is getting obsessed with sports you never normally watch. Dressage doesn’t often make its mark in the national consciousness, but the Olympics is its time to shine. The Team Grand Prix Special includes all the most elaborate and impressive equine manoeuvres, and you don’t need to know your passage from your piaffe to enjoy this surprisingly gripping event. The British team – which includes Charlotte Dujardin, who is also going for her third individual gold – will be determined to return to winning ways after following gold in London with silver in Rio.    

 

What else to watch: 

  • 9am, Judo: Men’s -81kg final and Women’s -63kg final
  • 11am, Women’s Football Group E: Great Britain v Canada
  • 11.45am, Women’s Gymnastics: Artistic Team Final
  • 12pm, Softball: Gold Medal Game

 

Wednesday 28 July

7am, Men’s Diving: Synchronised 3m Springboard final

There are few things quite so exhilarating as watching two finely tuned athletes execute complex movements in perfect harmony. This is an event definitely worth watching over your breakfast – not least because Team GB’s Jack Laugher (it’s pronounced “law”) and Dan Goodfellow will be among the favourites, having scooped gold in Rio and won the recent World Cup at the venue where the Olympic competition will take place. It’s virtually in the bag… 

 

What else to watch: 

  • 2am, Women’s Hockey Pool A: Great Britain v India
  • 4am, Men’s and Women’s Sailing: RS:X, Finn, 470 and 49er classes
  • 11.15pm, Men’s Gymnastics: Artistic All-Around final
  • 12.45pm, Men’s and Women’s 3x3 Basketball: Bronze Medal and Gold Medal matches

 

Thursday 29 July

2am, Women’s Rugby Group A: ROC (Russia) v Great Britain

After making its debut in Rio, women’s rugby sevens returns in Tokyo, and the Great Britain team will be gunning for success after being pipped to a bronze medal by Canada in 2016. Led by fly-half Megan Jones – a key member of the England team that has dominated the Six Nations recently – and centre Abbie Brown, they should see off the Russian team and will certainly be among the medal contenders, alongside New Zealand, Fiji and the USA. 

 

What else to watch: 

  • 7am, Baseball: Dominican Republic v Japan
  • 11.50pm, Women’s Gymnastics: Artistic All-Around final
  • 10.30am, Women’s Fencing: Foil Team Bronze Medal and Gold Medal matches
  • 12pm, Women’s Table Tennis: Bronze Medal and Gold Medal matches

 

Friday 30 July

BMX riders at the Olympic Games

2am, Men’s and Women’s BMX racing finals

If we’re honest, BMX racing is the one Olympic sport we think we could have a decent go at. No terrifying sideways slopes like in the indoor velodrome, no complicated tricks to learn like in the freestyle event (appearing for the first time this year) – just jump on your BMX and pedal like mad! In reality, of course, we’d be eating the dust of these elite athletes, including a couple of British riders with real medal hopes like Charlotte Worthington, who finished third at the 2019 world championships. 

 

What else to watch: 

  • 12.45am, Men’s and Women’s Rowing: Single Sculls and Eights finals 
  • 2am, Athletics: Women’s 800m and 100m heats and Men’s 400m hurdles heats
  • 6.45am, Women’s Archery: Individual Bronze Medal and Gold Medal matches
  • 11am, Athletics: Men’s 10,000m final
  • 12pm, Men’s Table Tennis: Bronze Medal and Gold Medal matches

 

Saturday 31 July

11am, Athletics: Women’s 100m final

One of the blue riband events of Olympic track and field takes place in today’s evening session, and it’s an opportunity to see Team GB’s finest sprinter, Dina Asher-Smith, in action. While she’ll mainly be targeting gold in her preferred event, the 200m, she has a decent chance of a 100m medal too – but she’ll have to overcome the evergreen Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who at 34 is the fastest woman in the world this year. This session also sees an intriguing debut with the Mixed 4x400m Relay.

 

What else to watch: 

  • 6.45am, Men’s Archery: Individual Bronze Medal and Gold Medal matches
  • 4am, Women’s Tennis: Singles Bronze Medal and Gold Medal matches
  • 5am, Men’s Trampoline: Final
  • 11.50am, Men’s Weightlifting: 96kg 
  • 11.30pm, Men’s Golf: Final round

 

Sunday 1 August

The men's 100 metre sprint at the Olympic Games

11am, Athletics: Men’s 100m final

Some of the stardust may be gone from the men’s 100m since Usain Bolt retired, but still, we all want to find out who gets to call himself the world’s fastest man. In contrast to the giant Bolt, US sprinter Trayvon Bromell is just 5ft 8in but he’s comfortably leading the season’s best times and will be favourite to take gold – although look out for South Africa’s Akani Simbine, who will be bidding to break the stranglehold the US and Jamaica have had on this event in the 21st century. Today also features the Men’s High Jump and Women’s Triple Jump finals.

 

What else to watch: 

  • 2.10am, Men’s and Women’s BMX: Freestyle finals
  • 4am, Tennis: Men’s Singles Gold Medal match and Women’s Doubles Gold Medal match
  • 9am, Gymnastics: Men’s Floor and Pommel Horse final, Women’s Vault and Uneven Bars final
  • 10.30am, Men’s Fencing: Foil Team Bronze Medal and Gold Medal matches
  • 12.30pm, Women’s Badminton: Bronze Medal and Gold Medal matches

 

Monday 2 August

9am, Gymnastics: Men’s Rings and Vault finals and Women’s Floor final

Rio saw Britain’s best ever performance in gymnastics, with seven medals including two golds for Max Whitlock. This year’s team, although still led by Whitlock (who’s expected to retain his pommel horse title), are an inexperienced group but will have hopes of challenging for medals. Team GB’s teenage twin sisters Jennifer and Jessica Gadirova, born in Dublin to Azerbaijani parents, have a story that could attract plenty of attention, but on the floor they’ll be up against one of the all-time greats: the USA’s Simone Biles.

 

What else to watch: 

  • 1am, Athletics: Men’s Long Jump final
  • 9am, Women’s Football: Semi-finals
  • 10.15am, Wrestling: Men’s Greco-Roman 60kg final and Women’s Freestyle 76kg final
  • 12pm, Men’s Badminton: Bronze Medal and Gold Medal matches

 

Tuesday 3 August

Track cycling at the Olympic Games

7.30am, Track Cycling: Women’s Team Pursuit and Men’s Team Sprint finals

The cycling track has been the scene of some of Team GB’s greatest triumphs in recent times – they’ve led the medal tables at the last three Olympics, and the likes of Chris Hoy, Laura Kenny, Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton became household names. It’s a strong team this year too: Kenny and her husband Jason both have record Olympic medal hauls in their sights, while Ed Clancy and Elinor Barker are among those looking to add to their collections. Britain are defending champions in both the events staging their finals today and will be confident of retaining the titles.

 

What else to watch: 

  • 1.30am, Canoe: Women's Kayak Single and Double 500m finals, Men’s Canoe Single and Double 1,000m finals
  • 9am, Men’s Football: Semi-finals
  • 11am, Athletics: Men’s Pole Vault final, Women’s 800m and 200m finals
  • 12pm, Men’s Badminton: Bronze Medal and Gold Medal matches

 

Wednesday 4 August

11.50am, Weightlifting: Men’s +109kg

Although there are some detailed rules governing techniques, at its essence weightlifting is one of the simplest Olympic sports: who can hoist the heaviest weight above their head? The +109kg category has the mightiest lifters and most humongous barbells of all, so you’ll be marvelling at the superhuman achievements on display at the Tokyo International Forum today. This sport is also where some often-overlooked nations can shine – in 2016 the medals went to the likes of Georgia, Iran, Thailand and Uzbekistan – so it’s one that makes the Games feel like a truly global event. 

 

What else to watch: 

  • 1am, Track Cycling: Men’s Team Pursuit final
  • 10.15am Wrestling: Men’s Greco-Roman 67kg and 87kg finals and Women’s Freestyle 62kg final
  • 10.30am, Athletics: Decathlon, Heptathlon, Women’s Steeplechase final, Men’s Hammer Throw, 200m and 800m finals
  • 11am, Equestrian: Jumping Individual final

 

Thursday 5 August

9.30am, Men’s Sport Climbing: Speed, Bouldering and Lead finals

Another new event for these Olympics, sport climbing takes what can be a leisurely outdoor hobby and makes it a race against time – or indeed another athlete. In Bouldering, athletes climb as many routes on a 4.5m wall as they can in four minutes; in Lead, they climb as far as they can up a 15m wall in six minutes. In Speed, two athletes simply race to the top of a 15m wall set at a daunting 95° angle. There’s no Team GB interest in the men’s event (Shauna Coxsey will hope to be in the women’s final on Friday), but we’re definitely intrigued by this potentially gripping new Olympic sport.

 

What else to watch: 

  • 7am, Women’s Diving: 10m Platform final
  • 7.30am, Track Cycling: Women’s Keirin final
  • 9am, Karate: Women’s Kata and -55kg Kumite finals, Men’s -67kg Kumite final 
  • 11am, Athletics: Decathlon and Heptathlon final events, Men’s 400m final
  • 11am, Men’s Hockey: Gold Medal match

 

Friday 6 August

Women's hockey at the Olympic Games

11am, Women’s Hockey: Gold Medal match

One of the most euphoric moments of the Rio Olympics for British fans was the women’s hockey final, when an epic match against the Netherlands – the world champions and number 1-ranked team in the world – went all the way to a penalty shoot-out. GB keeper Maddie Hinch was the hero, keeping out every Dutch shot until Hollie Pearne-Webb hit the winner in front of a UK TV audience of 10 million. Both return in Tokyo (Pearne-Webb is now captain) and will hope to repeat their 2016 exploits in the face of stiff opposition from Australia, Argentina and, once again, the Netherlands.

 

What else to watch:

  • 3am, Women’s Football: Gold Medal match
  • 6am, Men’s Boxing: Heavyweight final
  • 9.30am, Women’s Sport Climbing: Speed, Bouldering and Lead finals
  • 7.30am, Track Cycling: Women’s Madison final, Men’s Sprint finals
  • 11.50am, Athletics: Women’s Javelin, 400m, 1,500m and 4x100m finals, Men’s 5,000m and 4x100m finals
  • 11.30pm, Women’s Golf: Final round

 

Saturday 7 August

1pm, Men’s Handball: Gold Medal match

In the UK it’s difficult to comprehend quite how popular handball is throughout mainland Europe, where it can attract crowds in the tens of thousands (in non-pandemic times). Britain has never entered a team except at London 2012, when “plucky” would be the best description of their efforts, so forget local interest and enjoy this gold medal match between two teams of superstars you’ve never heard of. Denmark are the men’s Olympic and world champs, Russia and the Netherlands dominate the women’s sport, and France and Germany will fancy their chances in both. The rules? Well, we’re not 100% sure, but we do know shouting “Handball!” repeatedly never stops being funny.

 

What else to watch: 

  • 2am, Men’s Beach Volleyball: Bronze Medal and Gold Medal matches
  • 3.30am, Men’s Basketball: Gold Medal match
  • 6am, Men’s Diving: 10m Platform final
  • 11am, Athletics: Women’s High Jump, 10,000m and 4x400m finals, Men’s Javelin, 1,500m and 4x400m finals
  • 12.30pm, Men’s Football: Gold Medal match
  • 1.15pm, Men’s Volleyball: Gold Medal match

 

Sunday 8 August

6am, Boxing: Men’s Lightweight and Super Heavyweight finals, Women’s Lightweight and Middleweight finals

Team GB’s boxers are unlikely to see a return to the heady days of London 2012, when they won five medals including three golds, but today’s finals include the category in which Britain is most likely to win Olympic glory. Cardiff middleweight Lauren Price is the World, European and Commonwealth champion and will be going all-out to complete the set with Olympic victory. Frazer Clarke will be among the favourites for the super heavyweight gold, while 20-year-old lightweight Caroline Dubois is one to watch too.

 

What else to watch: 

2am, Track Cycling: Women’s Sprint finals and Omnium final race, Men’s Keirin final

3.30am, Women’s Basketball: Gold Medal match

5.30am, Women’s Volleyball: Gold Medal match

7am, Women’s Handball: Gold Medal match

12pm, Closing Ceremony

 

How to watch The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on TV

You can watch Tokyo 2020 from Wednesday 21 July across BBC One HD (CH 101/108) and BBC Two HD (CH 102). BBC iPlayer will also feature coverage of the games. Find it in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer. We will update this guide throughout the games, so bookmark this page for further updates.

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TV channels: Channels, content and features available depend on your chosen package. Channel line-ups and content are subject to change at any time and to regional variations.

HD: HD TV set, V HD Box, TiVo box or Virgin TV V6 connected with HDMI cables required for HD channels. Number of inclusive HD channels depends on package.

Catch Up TV: Catch Up TV content available for up to 7 days or up to 30 days after broadcast, depending on content.

On Demand: Content available to view depends on TV package. Time limits apply for viewing chargeable On Demand content – see virginmedia.com. Once purchased, all chargeable On Demand content must be viewed within 48 hours. Premium channels and upgrades must be kept for at least 30 days.