Skip to contents
Olympics

Reminder: The Olympics Are In Japan, Where It Is A Different Time

Performers are seen during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
Hannah McKay - Pool/Getty Images

I do know the Olympics are in Japan, theoretically. I have seen all the Tokyo branding, and read about the COVID lockdowns and have even already watched a few sports on my television. But that does not mean I understand how time zones work. I do not.

This is exacerbated by two big problems. The first problem is that sometimes I am awake, and the athletes in Tokyo are awake and competing. This has already happened. Earlier this week, I watched several softball games and last night I watched some sport where four women row a boat a very long way and look terrifyingly synchronized. These sports were live. Sure, it was daylight on the TV and dark outside, but that happens with West Coast sports too.

The second problem is that all of the important and exciting events are going to be re-aired here during waking hours and primetime, for convenience and for ratings. That means that there are now two times every sport is happening. The U.S. women’s soccer team, for example, played at 4:30 a.m. earlier this week. The game was then re-shown on NBC at 8:30 a.m. for people who do not have newborns and are not sickos.

While it is convenient that some of the sports are on during the times I am awake, it makes it easy to forget that Japan is quite literally on the complete opposite side of the world. The games are happening at another time. The Opening Ceremony is on television right now. It is also … on television tonight? Which will be, in Tokyo, tomorrow morning? Do you see the problem?

But Kelsey, you might be saying, you can just watch whatever’s on television when it’s on. It doesn’t have to be live. This is where you are wrong, because I am 1) completely internet-poisoned and 2) have no respect for spoilers. I will google! I will see the clips beforehand! I am a monster!

Maybe you are a monster too and this is why I am here to help you. Listen up:

Tokyo is 13 hours AHEAD of EDT: That means it is 12 hours + 1 later in the day. So if it is 8 a.m. here, it is 9 p.m. in Tokyo. If you are on PDT, well, good luck. I can’t be expected to do two maths correctly in one morning.

For your viewing convenience, I have also come up with some general RULES for the Tokyo Olympics, which may help you.

Swimming is at night: The first big swimming finals are Saturday. They are at 9:30 p.m. EDT on NBC. These are live. There will also be live swimming on basically every night, at 9:30 p.m. EDT/6:30 p.m. PDT.

Women’s gymnastics are very early: This is bad news because you know there are going to be gifs circulating when you wake up, but the U.S. women’s gymnastics team is competing at 6:50 a.m. EDT (3:50 a.m. PDT!) on July 29. The event finals (terrible news) will be at 4:00 a.m. EDT in the first days of August.

Track and field are on in the morning: Most big track events for Americans are on between 8–10 a.m. EDT.

Generally, if it is on in the middle of the night, it’s live: Here is a very helpful schedule for big events that NBC made. Most of the events, you will see, occur between the hours of 8:00 p.m. EDT and 8 a.m. EDT.

If you have a baby or insomnia, now is your time to shine! I believe in you, but I personally, will be asleep.