The Olympic Games Are Officially Underway — Here's How to Watch the Opening Ceremonies and Upcoming Competitions

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Olympic's Opening Ceremonies
Olympic's Opening Ceremonies

Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images

Hundreds of athletes marched through the Olympic Stadium on Friday, part of a parade of nations that — like many aspects of this year's Games — looked a little different than normal.

The masked athletes held up flags and waved as they entered, but were greeted by a near-empty stadium due to spectators being banned from the Games following the declaration of a state of emergency in Tokyo.

"Over 4 billion people across the world will be watching these Olympic Games," Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told NBC News ahead of the ceremony. "In that context, overcoming the hardship of the coronavirus and to be able to hold the Games, I think there is real value in that."

One notable spectator who was in the stands was First Lady Dr. Jill Biden who watched the United States delegation marching in.

Honoring the host country, a replica of Mt. Fuji was featured as dancers were encircled by paper lanterns as the Olympic Rings were brought into the center of the stage. The wooden rings were made from trees grown from seeds that were brought to Japan by international athletes the last time Tokyo hosted the Games in 1964, according to the Olympics. As part of the ceremony, stars including John Legend, representing the Americas, and Keith Urban, representing Oceania, performed a pre-taped rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine" while iconic spots like Tokyo Tower were ceremoniously lit up.

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Missing was one of Team USA's biggest stars, Simone Biles, who posted on Instagram stories that "we did our own little walk outside where we are staying." She said she missed the ceremony for a few reasons, including COVID-19 and the sheer amount of standing involved.

A day earlier, Biles had previewed a daring skill during training, the Yurchenko double pike. No female gymnast had ever tried the skill in competition until Biles landed it in April, and, if she lands it during the Olympic Games, it will be named for her.

To officially kick off the Games, Japan's emperor declared its opening as fireworks lit up the sky from the top of the stadium.

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The moment marked a culmination of months of uncertainty with a year-long delay, declarations of states of emergencies, and question marks if the Games would even happen.

Several torchbearers carried the Olympic flame through the stadium, including former Yankees baseball player Hideki Matsui, before it was handed to Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka to light the cauldron.

Live coverage of the opening ceremony started Friday morning at 6:55 a.m. ET on NBC, and will be re-broadcast at 7:30 p.m.

Medal event competitions begin on Saturday with archery, cycling, fencing, judo, shooting, taekwondo, and weightlifting, with several other preliminary competitions planned, including beach volleyball, gymnastics, and swimming. The women's gymnastics team competition will be shown on NBC on Sunday, starting at 7 p.m. ET.

The Games will air across all NBC channels including USA, CNBC, NBCSN, the Olympic Channel, and the GOLF Channel as well as the network's streaming app Peacock, and website NBCOlympics.com, and the NBC Sports app.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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