How to watch the Tokyo Olympics live online

The European Championships and Copa America have finished, but the summer of rescheduled sport continues with the 2020 Summer Olympics. 

You might not have a TV network in your country broadcasting the Olympics, but fear not – with a VPN, you'll be able to unblock a channel from elsewhere in the world and watch it there.

 

How to unblock The Olympics with a VPN

Now we've run through why you need a VPN to stream the Olympics, here's a short list of steps that, if completed, will have you up and running in no time: 

  1. Sign up to ExpressVPN or a provider of your choice, there's more options in our best VPN for the Olympics section below.
  2. Download and run the software on your chosen device. 
  3. Connect to an ExpressVPN server in a region showing the games for free.
  4. Head over to the streaming service you'd like to unblock.
  5. Create an account with your email address or a username. 

After completing these steps, you should be able to stream the Olympics through a high-quality stream, and all for free! 

How to watch the Tokyo Olympics

Like Euro 2020 and various other sporting events, you'd expect the BBC to be showing wall-to-wall coverage. But US channel, Discovery, actually nabbed the rights to show the Olympics across the entirety of Europe until 2024, so the BBC has had to do with a sub-licensing agreement. This means, however, that the channel can only show two different sports simultaneously. 

In the Middle East and North Africa, BeIN Sports have the rights to show the games, but they command a hefty subscription fee to access their channels. In the US NBC will be showing the competition, but you'll have to have the channel as part of your cable package to watch. 

Depending on the event you'd like to check out, you might need to do a bit of shopping around – your preferred commentary language will factor into your choice of channel, too. CBC is showing a lot of events for free in Canada, for example, whereas Channel 7/7Play in Australia is showing a lot of different competitions. So if you're looking for a specific event, it might take a bit of searching, but you'll find your channel, eventually, with the help of your VPN.

The best VPNs for the Olympics

Below are our top picks for streaming the Tokyo Olympics. We have hand-picked all these VPNs for their ability to unblock geo-restricted content and provide excellent streaming speeds. 

  1. ExpressVPN - The best VPN for streaming the Olympics, with servers in 94 countries.
  2. NordVPN - A lightning-quick VPN that will ensure your games run smoothly.
  3. CyberGhost VPN - A reliable and easy-to-use provider with servers optimised for streaming.
  4. Private Internet Access - An ultra-secure VPN with tens of thousands of servers in the USA.
  5. Surfshark - A great budget-friendly VPN with unlimited simultaneous connections.

Why use a VPN to watch the 2020 Olympic Games?

In most cases, you'll need a subscription to a Pay-TV provider in order to stream the Olympic Games. Plenty of channels do show the games for free, however, but they're often geo-restricted. This means you won't be able to watch if you're outside of the country they're broadcast in.

Websites enforce geo-restrictions by using your IP address – which is visible to the site can when you visit it, and reveals various details about your approximate geographical location. However, you can bypass the restrictions that free-to-air channels showing the Olympics games put in place by using a VPN. VPNs reroute all your traffic through private servers located around the world, which changes your IP address.

As a result, the IP address seen by the sites you visit will be that of the VPN server, not your device. So if you want to unblock BBC iPlayer outside of the UK, you can catch their Olympic coverage by connecting through a UK VPN server and head over to the BBC's website. This will work with channels other than the BBC too – it's just a case of finding a reliable provider that can consistently unblock content. 

Watch the Olympics for free thanks to the 30-day money-back guarantee

The Tokyo Olympics runs from July 23 to August 8 – which is less than 30 days. This is extremely convenient, as basically all premium, paid-for VPN services (including ExpressVPN) offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.

This means you can download your VPN software, install it, use it for the whole tournament, and then claim your refund back – which means you can watch all of the Tokyo Olympic online without really paying a penny. 

The ExpressVPN Free Trial Hack!

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You can experience ExpressVPN's fully featured service without limitation… for free! 

If you need A VPN for the Tokyo Olympics, why not test ExpressVPN premium service? Simply purchase a subscription using the button below and take advantage of the no-nonsense money-back-guarantee. Enjoy the free VPN trial for 30 days, and when you cancel, you will receive a complete refund! Check out our ExpressVPN refund page for more details about how to get your money back after the 30-day period. 

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Why would a provider like ExpressVPN offer this huge money-back window with every download of their software? Well, they're at liberty to do this because the amount of people who only truly realize how useful a VPN is after downloading it is very high. VPNs cater to a whole load of use cases wherever you're based in the world, and can do a lot more than just unblock your favorite sporting events. It's a confident tactic for sure, but one ExpressVPN can afford to use thanks to the quality of their product, which keeps on getting better year on year. 

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Is using a VPN to stream the Olympic Games illegal?

Obviously, whether a certain piece of technology is illegal will depend on the governing authorities of the region it exists within – VPNs are banned in some countries, like Russia and China, but in somewhere like the United Kingdom they're perfectly legal to use. This is the case in the vast majority of countries around the world, and hundreds of millions of people now use VPNs. 

Using a VPN, however, might be against a given streaming service's terms of use. They often only have the right to show content to people in certain territories, so tuning in from elsewhere might be against company rules. It's not possible, though, to get some arrested for this, and so many people actively use VPNs that it's impossible to police.

You might get blocked out of a site if it recognizes the IP address of the server you're connecting through. You can simply log into another if this happens – and there's nothing 'illegal' about it. 

Why you should avoid illegal streams for the Olympics

One word of advice from us here at ProPrivacy – don't use an illegal stream to watch the Olympics. Illegal streams rear their ugly heads around almost every major sporting event on the calendar, and it's a sad fact that it's the go-to way to watch sport for millions of people around the world. 

Illegal streaming is a popular way to catch live sports like football and basketball, and the Olympics will undoubtedly be no different. But people who illegally stream sports are usually unaware of the risks they open themselves up to by doing so, including the mass amounts of malware usually present on pages that host pirate streams. Other problems include:

  • All-round poor picture quality, often blurry
  • 'Zoomed in' streams where the scoreboard/minutes aren't visible  
  • Irritating ad overlays and pop-ups 
  • Paywalls that ask you to input card details into dodgy sites to watch 
  • Limited choice of commentary language

That's not exactly a good viewing experience, is it? Anyone reading this who's illegally streamed before will know the picture quality is often extremely poor, and you can never really relax because the screen may start buffering or turn off altogether. This is especially pertinent in athletics, where some races are over in a split second and once you've missed it, you've missed it. When you can completely avoid this painful endeavor with a VPN, it's puzzling to me why so many still choose to do it. 

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: the key dates

Below are some key dates for the most popular events taking place. All times are given in BST (British Summer Time) which is the same as GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) + one hour. 

Event  Date  Time
Men's 100m final  1 August  13:50 
Women's 100m final  31 July  13:50 
Men's football final  7 August  12:30 
Women's football final  6 August  03:00 
Men's handball final  7 August  13:00 
Women's handball final  8 August  07:00  
Men's Marathon 8 August  23:00
Women's Marathon  7 August  23:00 
Men's 110m hurdles final 4 August 03:55
Women's 100m hurdles final 2 August 03:50 
Men's 200m final  4 August  13:55
Women's 200m final  3 August 13:50
Men's 400m final 5 August  13:00
Women's 400m final  6 August  13:35
Men's boxing final  3 August 11:05
Women's boxing final  3 August 05:05
Men's volleyball final 7 August  13:15
Women's volleyball final  8 August  05:30 
Men's hockey final  5 August 11:00 
Women's hockey final  6 August 11:00
Men's 800m final  4 August  13:05
Women's 800m final  3 August 13:25
Men's high jump final  1 August  11:10 
Women's high jump final  7 August  11:35

Tokyo Olympics: A scandal-hit tournament

It's hard to remember a more tumultuous start to the Olympic games, and that's not just because of Covid – although the pandemic has created its fair share of stumbling blocks for organizers and athletes alike.

Several athletes have been forced out of the competition with Covid-19 cases, and the first coronavirus infections recorded in the Olympic village were discovered this week.

Covid aside, the director of the opening ceremony and popular entertainer Kentaro Kobayashi has resigned on July 22 after a Holocaust joke he made as part of a sketch group in 1998 resurfaced. The resignation follows similar action by Musician Keigo Oyamada, who forewent his role as a composer after brags made in interviews years ago about committing acts of bullying and other abusive behavior. 

Unfortunately, these are just two events in a string of incidents that have tarnished the games before they've even begun. Toyota, the global sponsor of the games, isn't even sure whether to use the Olympics logo on TV adverts in Japan because it could cause reputational damage. 

 

Written by: Aaron Drapkin

After graduating with a philosophy degree from the University of Bristol in 2018, Aaron became a researcher at news digest magazine The Week following a year as editor of satirical website The Whip. Freelancing alongside these roles, his work has appeared in publications such as Vice, Metro, Tablet and New Internationalist, as well as The Week's online edition.

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