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How to Watch the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (With a VPN) in 2022

When you want to watch the Tokyo Olympics, things are actually a bit more difficult than they seem. Because NBC has a contract with the Tokyo Olympics, you can’t watch the games elsewhere. However, streaming the Olympics live is simple if you use a VPN to live stream them. Stick around as we show you how to watch the Olympics with a VPN and some of the best VPNs to do just that.

Andrej Hadji-Vasilev
By Andrej Hadji-Vasilev (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2021-10-21T19:55:58+00:00

Although a year late, the anachronistically named Tokyo 2020 Olympics are finally here. They’re the fourth Olympic Games held in Japan, but only the second Summer Olympics after Tokyo 1964. A lot of time has passed since the flame was last lit in Tokyo, making the Tokyo “2021” Olympics all the more special.

Plus, a lot of people are excited to watch them, especially since being pushed back a year. However, due to regional restrictions and contracts, they’re not available everywhere, which means that some people simply can’t watch them. There is a simple solution to watching the games, though: use a VPN.

Key Takeaways:

  • NBC has an exclusivity contract for the Olympics, but unfortunately there’s a geoblock that restricts content to U.S. only.
  • ExpressVPN is the best VPN to get around the geoblock and enjoy the Olympics outside the U.S. with any NBC streaming service.
  • NordVPN is a more affordable alternative if you’re willing to try out a few servers before you find one with good, consistent speeds. 
  • Windscribe is the best free VPN that you can use, but the 10GB data limit might not be enough, especially if you stream at higher resolutions. 

A VPN, or virtual private network, is a way for you to get an IP address from any location around the world. In this case, if you’re outside the U.S., a VPN allows you to get a U.S. IP address so that you can stream the Tokyo Olympic Games on any of NBCUniversal’s platforms.

In this article, we’ll show you how to watch the Olympics with a VPN, plus the best VPNs for the Tokyo Olympic events. If you’re looking for a quick answer, we recommend ExpressVPN to access all the Olympics coverage, from the opening ceremony to the last event. 

  • You can watch the Summer Olympics 2021 on any of NBC’s channels and online streaming platforms. If you’re not in the U.S., you can use a VPN to access the NBC Network.

  • The Tokyo Olympics start on July 23, 2021 and will be live until August 8, 2021.

  • Yes, you can watch the Olympic events with Hulu + Live TV, although they still broadcast through NBC Network.

  • Yes, you can stream the 2021 Olympics on NBC’s streaming platforms such as NBC Olympics or Peacock.

How to Watch the Tokyo Olympics Live Stream in the U.S.

The short answer to this question is that you can watch the Tokyo Olympics — and really any Olympic events — exclusively with NBC. That’s because back in June, NBCUniversal — the parent company of NBC — announced that it would be the exclusive broadcaster for this year’s Tokyo Olympics, promising over 7,000 hours of content for viewers. 

This isn’t too much of a surprise, though. NBC has had the Olympics broadcasting rights for the U.S. for decades now. 

In 2011, NBC and the International Olympic Committee signed the most expensive TV rights deal, at $4.38 billion, and NBC got the exclusive rights to broadcast through the 2020 Olympic Games. However, on May 7, 2014, NBC signed a $7.75 billion contract extension that extended those rights through the 2032 Summer Olympics. 

Not everyone is happy with NBC, though, because its track record when it comes to streaming the Olympics live is far from perfect. For example, it switched up the broadcasting times to suit the audience in the U.S., and in some situations, this led to the results of certain events being known before NBC even got the chance to broadcast them.

Where Can I Watch the Tokyo Olympics 2021 Online?

If you want to watch the Tokyo Olympics live online, you’re looking at a few options, all of them being a streaming service under NBC coverage.

NBC will broadcast the most popular competitions — such as basketball, soccer, swimming and gymnastics — with over 5,000 hours promised for viewers on the NBC Olympics website. Some content will also be available on the NBC Sports website, but again, only if you’re in the U.S. It’s not exactly a streaming service, but you can watch the Olympics live.

There’s also the Olympic Channel, which focuses on the competitions where Team USA participates, such as tennis and wrestling. Plus, you have the Golf Channel, which focuses exclusively on golf. You can even watch both channels online if you’re in the U.S., which is great.

Last but not least, you’ll also be able to watch the Olympics on Peacock — a streaming service owned by NBCUniversal — which promises plenty of streams, such as gymnastics, volleyball, basketball and track and field.

The Best Way to Watch the Olympics From Outside the U.S.

Even though NBC has extensive coverage of the Tokyo Olympics via its streaming services, it also has geoblocks that prevent people that aren’t in the U.S. from watching any of its content, including the Olympics.

Geoblocking restricts you from accessing certain online content — unless you’re in a specific location — by checking your IP address for your physical location. The results will show the service if you’re in an “allowed” location, and then decide whether to give you access or not.

That being said, there are ways to get around those geoblocks so that you can watch the Tokyo Olympics, and the best one is a VPN. A VPN will allow you to get an IP address from another country by acting as a middleman, and in this case, you can use it to get a U.S. IP address to watch the Tokyo Olympics on NBC. 

How to Get Around the NBC Geoblock to Watch the Olympics

NBC’s geoblocks are notoriously difficult to get around, which means that not every VPN will work. If you don’t want to waste time experimenting to find the ones that work, here is how to watch the Olympics with a VPN, step by step, using ExpressVPN as an example.

  1. Download and Install ExpressVPN

    You can download ExpressVPN from its official website. It’s available for most popular devices and platforms, so just pick the device or platform you’re using and download it. Then, launch the install wizard and follow the installation steps. They’re simple and shouldn’t take you more than a couple of minutes.

    expressvpn olympics
  2. Connect to a U.S. Server

    ExpressVPN has a few server locations in the U.S. you can access. Click the “location picker” button (the three dots on the right side), and you’ll get a list of servers. Search for “USA,” and you’ll get a list of all the servers in the U.S. you can connect to. Then, click the “connect” button, and you should connect to a server in the U.S.

    expressvpn us locations
  3. Launch the Streaming Service

    When you’ve connected to a U.S. server, connect to your streaming service of choice. NBC Olympics and Peacock are two options for the Summer Olympics, and both work great with ExpressVPN.

The Best VPN: Olympics & NBC Unblocked

Even though we suggested steps with ExpressVPN — the best VPN for the Olympics — NordVPN and Windscribe are also great alternatives when you’re looking into how to watch the Tokyo Olympics. Each one is an excellent choice. It’s just a matter of picking the one you like best.

1. ExpressVPN

expressvpn us olympics
ExpressVPN has multiple U.S. locations you can choose from if you want to watch the Olympics. 

Pros:

  • Excellent speeds & reliability
  • Multiple servers in the U.S.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Can access Peacock & NBC Olympics live stream

Cons:

  • Expensive

ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN out there, and its ability to bypass NBC’s geoblocks makes it perfect for watching the Summer Olympics. You have multiple locations in the U.S. that you can connect to, and there’s also a “smart location” feature that suggests the location ExpressVPN thinks will yield the best results.

Excellent device compatibility across the board means you can live stream the Olympics on anything from your smartphone and tablet to your PC and smart TV. Pricing isn’t the cheapest, but for a no-compromise VPN that can live stream the Olympics, it’s very much worth it. Plus, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you change your mind. You can find out more in our ExpressVPN review

2. NordVPN

nordvpn us olympics
NordVPN has one of the most intuitive UIs, and you can see exactly where in the U.S. you’re connecting to. 

Pros:

  • 15 server locations in the U.S. 
  • Ability to add a second VPN to the connection for improved security
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Can access Peacock & NBC Olympics live stream

Cons:

  • Not all servers are equal in terms of speed

NordVPN has a very intuitive UI that puts you on a world map where you can choose the location to connect to. It lets you connect to any of its 15 locations in the U.S., which is perfect for live streaming the Summer Olympics. However, if you’re further away from the actual server, the speeds can be somewhat inconsistent, which is why it comes in second on our list. Find out more in our NordVPN review.

However, that’s not to say that NordVPN is slow. By all accounts, it’s just a hair’s breadth behind ExpressVPN in that regard. Pricing is reasonable as well, making NordVPN a solid choice when you find a server that gets you consistent speeds. Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, as well.

3. Windscribe

windscribe us olympics
Windscribe’s server list is extensive, but only some of the locations are available on the free plan. 

Pros:

  • Free
  • No speed limits or throttling on the free plan 
  • Unique build-a-plan option
  • Can access Peacock & NBC Olympics live stream

Cons:

  • 10GB data limit on the free plan
  • Limited server selection on free plan

Not everyone wants to pay to live stream the Tokyo Olympics, which is where Windscribe comes in. It’s hands down the best way to live stream the Olympics for free. Even though free VPNs don’t have a good reputation, Windscribe’s free plan is an exception to the rule, with security that’s just as good as most paid providers, no speed limits and a generous amount of data. You can find out more in our Windscribe review.

Unfortunately, the 10GB data limit might not be enough if you’re planning on following the Summer Olympics extensively. The paid plan removes that limit. However, if you’re already paying for a VPN, NordVPN and ExpressVPN are both better choices, which is why Windscribe comes in last on our list.

Final Thoughts: How to Watch the 2021 Olympics Online

When all is said and done, knowing how to watch the Olympics if you’re not in the U.S. is simple: just use a VPN. It’s secure, it’s simple to use and it’ll allow you to live stream all the Summer Olympics competitions you want. A VPN will get you a U.S. IP address, and the ones we suggested above — with ExpressVPN topping our list — will allow you to bypass the NBC geoblock.

Of course, you’ll still need to deal with the sometimes uncanny broadcast times of NBC, especially if you’re in a time zone that’s significantly different from the U.S. However, that’s not too much of a problem if you want to stream the Tokyo Olympics.

What Olympic event are you most excited to live stream? Which VPN service will you use to stream the Olympics? Let us know in the comments and thanks for reading.

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