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NBC plans full day of coverage for Tokyo Olympics' opening ceremony

NBC will broadcast the opening ceremony live in the morning for the first time when the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo kick off in July.
/ Source: TODAY

The always anticipated spectacle of the Olympics' opening ceremony will be coming live to viewers bright and early when the 2021 Tokyo Games kick off this summer.

NBC announced Wednesday that it will hold its first live morning broadcast of an opening ceremony ever, bringing the pageantry and excitement live from Tokyo on July 23 starting at 6:55 a.m. EST and running until 11 a.m. EST.

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NBC will have its first live morning broadcast of the opening ceremony when the 2021 Summer Olympics kick off in Tokyo on July 23. Charly Triballeau / AFP - Getty Images

The Tokyo time zone is 13 hours ahead of the East Coast of the United States, so when the opening ceremony begins at 8 p.m. local time in Japan, it will be 7 a.m. EST and 4 a.m. on the West Coast.

NBC's morning broadcast will kick off a full day of coverage that will also include a special edition of TODAY airing 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. EST, followed by NBC's first Olympic daytime show 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. EST on the opening Friday of the Tokyo Olympics.

"Following the unprecedented challenges presented by the global pandemic, the world will come together in Tokyo for what could be the most meaningful and anticipated Opening Ceremony ever," Pete Bevacqua, chairman of NBC Sports Group, said in a news release. "Given the magnitude of this event, we want to provide viewers with as many ways to connect to it as possible, live or in primetime."

The day will mark the first major global gathering since the beginning of the pandemic, which ultimately caused the International Olympic Committee and Japanese officials last March to postpone the Olympics to this summer.

For everyone unable to watch the opening ceremony live in the morning, there will also be a primetime NBC broadcast that will include special coverage of Team USA, along with the centerpiece of the opening ceremony, the Parade of Nations. The primetime coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. EST and runs until midnight.

A replay of the entire opening ceremony will then be broadcast overnight 12:35 a.m. to 5 a.m. EST.

"Athletes are the heart of the Olympic movement, and the Opening Ceremony will be a global celebration of their dedication and resilience during their long journey to Tokyo," Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics, said in the news release. "The same holds true for the IOC, the Japanese government, and the Tokyo Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, who are navigating unimaginable challenges to provide the athletes with what for so many is a once in a lifetime opportunity to compete on the world’s biggest stage."

NBC has more than 7,000 hours of coverage planned for the Tokyo Olympics and will be releasing more details, including the hosts and full digital and streaming plans, closer to the start of the Games.

It's been a trying year for thousands of athletes who have had to extend their training in the hopes that the Olympics would be able to be held this summer.

Last month, Japanese officials and the IOC denied a report by The Times of London that suggested the Tokyo Olympics might be canceled due to the ongoing pandemic.

One of the expected headliners of the Games, U.S. gymnastics superstar Simone Biles, spoke on TODAY in January about preparing in a time of uncertainty.

"I mean it is kind of crazy but it's to be expected," she said. "We are in a pandemic, so we're kind of ready for whatever life throws us at this point, so we're training as if, and whatever happens, happens. We have to do what's safe for the rest of the world, for ourselves to make sure everyone's healthy, but hopefully the Olympics can still be put on, even if it means we're in a bubble."

Biles further expressed her willingness to follow any protocol as long as the Games are held.

"I'll basically do anything at this moment," she said. "I know other sports have gone and done testing every day. It just is a matter of time until we hear what the Olympic committee has to say and what their precautions are going to be going forward.

"Whatever they say they want us to do, I'm in 100%, because I've been training so hard, and I've just been so ready."