Watching Olympic Games 2020 on BBC: get live coverage in the UK and abroad

BBC's 2020 Olympics broadcast team for 2021
(Image credit: BBC)

The 2021 Olympics in Tokyo is set to be one of the most-streamed sporting events across the world and after being delayed by a year, you won’t want to miss out on this year’s events. Whether you’re wanting to catch the highlights or you’re interested in the full schedule of sports, you will find out here how to live stream the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games

If you’re in the UK, the BBC will be streaming the gold medal events and highlights of the Olympic Games live from Tokyo, with over 350 hours of free coverage across BBC One and BBC Two. You can also catch the action online on BBC iPlayer. 

But if you're abroad for the Olympics you don't have to miss out on Team GB's wins this year, by using a VPN service you are ready to watch live wherever your location.

Keep reading to find out all the important information on the 2020 Olympic Games coverage and how to stream the Olympic Games with the BBC. 

How is the BBC 2020 Olympic Games coverage different from previous years?  

Unlike previous Olympic Games in 2012 and 2016 where the BBC was able to air multiple live streams of the Olympic Games events, this year is slightly different. In 2016 the Olympic organisers sold the European television rights to US streaming service, Discovery Plus which has restricted the amount of coverage of the 2020 Olympic Games that the BBC can offer. 

For more comprehensive coverage of the Olympic Games this year, viewers can visit Eurosport Player to access live coverage of the sporting events. You will need to pick up a subscription costing either £6.99 a month or £29.99 for the year, or for a taster of the coverage you can sign up for a 3-day free trial. 

UK viewers can still access extensive free live coverage of the 2020 Olympic Games through BBC’s main channels and online with BBC iPlayer.

2020 Olympic Games live on BBC TV  

Over on the BBC, you will find extensive free live coverage of all the key events and highlights of the Olympics 2020. With Discovery+ buying the majority of rights, the BBC will only be able to air two live sports events at a time. For more live coverage of every sports event, you will need to visit Eurosport Player as explained above.

Due to the eight-hour time difference between Tokyo and the UK, there will be some late nights for us Brits, as depending on the events you want to watch, live coverage will be aired from the early hours of the morning. 

Live coverage starts from midnight in the UK on BBC One and continues throughout the day also on BBC Two. Highlights from the day will be aired on TV from 7.30pm to 10.30pm BST every day on BBC One and Two. 

Whether you’re watching on your TV or listening to the radio, BBC will also be running a live commentary of the Olympics action on BBC Radio 5 Live and Sports Extra. 

For a full schedule of the BBC’s 2020 Olympic Games coverage

A screenshot of the BBC Sport App

(Image credit: BBC Sport App)

Olympic Games 2020 on BBC iPlayer

BBC iPlayer is the service's online streaming service and your go-to destination for any Olympic Games content, whether that be catch-up or using the Live Restart feature that allows you to rewind any live show so you don’t miss out. 

Although you can’t spectate the Olympics in person this year, if you have a supported TV device you can catch the 2020 Olympics Games coverage in Ultra HD (4K) on BBC iPlayer. Which is (nearly) just as good, right?

If you don’t have a TV, that’s no problem as the BBC iPlayer is compatible with most devices, including laptops, games consoles, tablets, and all iOS and Android devices. You can even download the BBC iPlayer app so that you can quickly access event coverage.

With thousands of shows available in the UK for free, if you haven’t already got a BBC iPlayer account then it’s really easy to set up if you head to their website, as it will be necessary to watch shows.

Does watching the Olympic Games on BBC cost anything? 

The BBC allows UK viewers to watch content both via their TV channels and with iPlayer if they have a TV Licence. One of the best things about this is that all shows on the BBC are ad-free which means you can watch the Olympic Games without interruption.

If you have a TV Licence, you will be able to watch the Olympic Games coverage across all of the BBC sites for free and without any extra cost. 

As mentioned above, with a free registered account you can access BBC iPlayer which means you will be guaranteed a wide coverage of all the Olympic Games in 2021.

Olympics stadium in Tokyo with Olympic rings

(Image credit: BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images)

What will the BBC Olympic Games coverage be like?

As a leading broadcaster, you can rely on the BBC for some of the best coverage of the Olympic Games this year. The BBC has a dedicated team of sports pundits that include former Olympic champions Jessica Ennis-Hill, Nicola Adams, Chris Hoy, Michael Johnson, and others to lead the coverage of the 2021 Olympic Games.

You can expect to see British television presenter and sports enthusiasts JJ Chalmers, Dan Walker, and gold medallist Sam Quek covering the games from midnight to breakfast each day. During the day, sports presenter Hazel Irvine and former gymnast Gabby Logan will be co-hosting the 9am to 3pm BST. Followed by Olympic expert and familiar face Clare Balding who will co-host with football pundit, Alex Scott as they provide a run-down of the sporting events that day. 

If you just want to catch the highlights from the day, tune into either BBC One or BBC Two in the evenings.

Watching Olympics in 2021 on BBC outside the UK

BBC iPlayer only allows viewers to watch content with a UK IP address, so if you’re outside of the UK for the Olympic Games you can still watch BBC’s live coverage using a VPN for streaming

A VPN effectively works as a private network that once downloaded, allows you to change your IP address to a different location. In this case, to watch BBC iPlayer, you will need to set a UK-based IP address. The set-up is straightforward and once done your device will be ready to stream BBC iPlayer’s coverage of the Olympic Games. 


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