After a particularly tumultuous qualification cycle rife with delays and controversy surrounding weightlifting’s status as an Olympic event, lifters from around the globe will compete in Tokyo, Japan, from July 23 through August 8.
While China is expected to perform exceptionally well, countries like Georgia, Korea, Colombia, and the United States are bringing some of their strongest rosters in recent history. What follows are multiple options for how you can watch the weightlifting events and award ceremonies, as well as a weightlifting-specific schedule and who to watch out for.
Disclaimer: BarBend is a U.S.-based media outlet. The times listed in this article are in Eastern Standard Time (EST). We understand that our audience is global, and we’re looking forward to sharing the excitement of the Olympic Games together. However, if you are located outside of the United States, your viewing experience will most likely be different than what’s written below.
How to Watch Weightlifting at the Tokyo Olympics
Depending on where you’re located, watching Olympic weightlifting action unfold in real-time may be a bit difficult — unless you’re willing to pull some extremely late nights or early mornings. In the continental United States, viewers from coast to coast will be behind Tokyo-time from 13 (EST) to 16 hours (PST).
Of course, BarBend will be burning the midnight oil to publish accurate session results as quickly as possible. However, if you want to see the athletes take the platform with your own eyes, there are a few options available for your viewing pleasure that we’ve listed below.
Live Streaming = The NBC Olympics Page
There’s a lot of uncertainty when it comes to live streaming all of the Olympic weightlifting events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, but we know that there’s one surefire way to catch all of the action: the NBC Olympics page.
Each event stream has already been created, and the listed times for each event correspond with the real-time schedule in Tokyo (see below). So if you want to live stream each weightlifting event, then the NBC Olympics page is your best bet. That said, you’ll need to log in via your TV provider to watch the live stream events on the NBC Olympics page.
Luckily, the list is long when it comes to the TV providers NBC accepts. If you have a traditional cable subscription like Comcast, Verizon, and Direct TV (dozens more are listed), you should be able to log in and live stream the Games. Cord-cutters can also use their Hulu + Live TV, Sling, YouTube TV, and other online TV subscriptions to log in and live stream each Olympic event.
Which Screen Can I Use?
Accessing the NBC Olympics page can be done on most devices with an internet browser like smartphones, tablets, or desktop/laptop computers.
According to NBC’s FAQ, viewers will be able to access the NBC Olympics pages via devices such as smart TVs and plug-in devices like Amazon Fire Stick, Roku, or Apple TV. Through native internet browsing apps like Silk (Amazon Fire), viewers may be able to access NBC’s page and enter their TV provider information. If browser apps won’t work and screen mirroring isn’t an option, then you may have to grab an HDMI cable and connect your laptop the old-school way.
No matter which device you prefer to use, if you plan on watching the action in real-time via NBC’s Olympics page, you can refer to the complete Olympic weightlifting schedule below to mark your calendar.
2020 Tokyo Olympics Weightlifting Real-Time Event Schedule
Below is a full breakdown of the scheduled weightlifting event start times. All dates and times listed are presented in Eastern Standard Time (EST).
Friday, July 23:
- 8:50PM: Women’s 49kg Group B
Saturday, July 24:
- 12:50AM: Women’s 49kg Group A, Women’s 49kg Award Ceremony
- 10:50PM: Men’s 61kg Group B, Men’s 67kg Group B
Sunday, July 25:
- 2:50AM: Men’s 61kg Group A, Men’s 61kg Award Ceremony
- 6:50AM: Men’s 67kg Group A, Men’s 67kg Award Ceremony
Monday, July 26:
- 12:50AM: Women’s 55kg Group B
- 6:50AM: Women’s 55kg Group A, Women’s 55kg Award Ceremony
- 10:50PM: Women’s 59kg Group B, Women’s 64kg Group B
Tuesday, July 27:
- 2:50AM: Women’s 59kg Group A, Women’s 59kg Ceremony
- 6:50AM: Women’s 64kg Group A, Women’s 64kg Award Ceremony
Wednesday, July 28:
- 12:50AM: Men’s 73kg Group B
- 6:50AM: Men’s 73kg Group A, Men’s 73kg Award Ceremony
Friday, July 30:
- 10:50PM: Men’s 81kg Group B, Men’s 96kg Group B
Saturday, July 31:
- 2:50AM: Men’s 81kg Group A, Men’s 81kg Award Ceremony
- 6:50AM: Men’s 96kg Group A, Men’s 96kg Award Ceremony
Sunday, August 1:
- 12:50AM: Women’s 76kg Group B
- 6:50AM: Women’s 76kg Group A, Women’s 76kg Award Ceremony
- 10:50PM: Women’s 87kg Group B, Women’s +87kg Group B
Monday, August 2:
- 2:50AM: Women’s 87kg Group A, Women’s 87kg Award Ceremony
- 6:50AM: Women’s +87kg Group A, Women’s +87kg Award Ceremony
Tuesday, August 3:
- 12:50AM: Men’s 109kg Group B
- 6:50AM: Men’s 109kg Group A, Men’s 109kg Award Ceremony
Wednesday, August 4:
- 12:50AM: Men’s +109kg Group B
- 6:50AM: M+109kg Group A, Men’s +109kg Award Ceremony
It’s unclear how much attention weightlifting will get throughout NBC’s TV broadcast of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Historically, sports like Swimming, Soccer, Track & Field, and Gymnastics have been at the forefront of NBC’s coverage.
However, NBCUniversal is presenting select weightlifting sessions and award ceremonies on television via USA Network. The times currently listed are certainly more convenient than the live stream events. Still, it’s important to note that the sessions scheduled to air on tape via USA Network (as they appear via NBC’s schedule) are a tiny portion of the weightlifting events that will take place in Tokyo.
It’s also unclear if the broadcast will include color commentary and analysis, or if the sessions will be replayed. We’ll keep this page updated with any additional TV times as they appear on NBC’s schedule.
If you have cable or plan to go to a public place to catch the Olympics on TV, you can check out the listed broadcast schedule below.
Note: These are not live event times and represent only the cable broadcasts of each session. See our section above for live streaming info and actual event start times (in EST). All cable broadcast times listed are subject to change.
Sunday, July 25 on USA Network
- 3:00PM: Men’s 61kg Group A, Men’s 67kg Group A
Saturday, July 31 on USA Network
- 2:15PM: Men’s 81kg Group A, Men’s 96kg Group A
Sunday, August 1 on USA Network
- 8:00AM: Women’s 76kg Group A
Monday, August 2 on USA Network
- 2:15PM: Women’s 87kg Group A, Women’s +87kg Group A
Peacock and NBC Sports Apps Are a Maybe
The jury is still out regarding live streaming weightlifting events via NBC’s Peacock and NBC Sports apps. While live coverage of Basketball, Gymnastics, Swimming, and other Olympic events via these apps is listed as an option on Peacock TV’s Olympics page, weightlifting is not listed in the lineup. It’s unclear how much viewers will be able to live stream any event via NBC’s apps. Here’s a direct FAQ from Peacock’s Olympics page:
“Can I watch the entire Tokyo Olympics on Peacock, including Opening and Closing ceremonies?”
Peacock will show Olympic highlights, including must-see moments from the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as well as Original documentaries and docuseries. To watch more extensive coverage, such as the full Opening and Closing Ceremonies, please tune in to the live broadcast on NBC.”
At any rate, to access Olympics content on either the NBC Sports app or Peacock, you’ll need to sign up for an account and download the app, where prices range from Peacock’s free plan to a Premium Plus plan for $9.99 per month.
The NBC Sports and Peacock apps are available on IOS and Android.
Note: It does not appear that Peacock will be providing live coverage of the weightlifting events at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Streaming schedules and fees for weightlifting and other Olympic events are subject to change.
Who to Watch at the Tokyo Olympics
With so many athletes from different countries taking the stage in Tokyo, knowing who to pay special attention to can be confusing. While everyone can claim gold, some countries are bringing real powerhouses to the biggest weightlifting event in the world.
At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, China’s weightlifting team took home five gold medals — more than double the next winningest countries Thailand and Iran, who each won two. Two additional silvers established China as an international tour-de-force, a trend that looks to continue this summer in Tokyo.
Seven out of the eight athletes on Team China hold the current world record total in their respective categories. While Lu Xiaojun is likely to face stiff competition in the 81-kilogram category at his third Olympic Games, middleweight newcomer Shi Ziyong is heavily favored to win the 73-kilogram class. +87-kilogram Li Wenwen is also extremely likely to clinch gold after exceeding the bests of Russia’s Tatiana Kashirina, who, while not Tokyo bound, is commonly considered the most dominant female weightlifter of all time.
Five years ago, Sarah Robles broke a 16-year weightlifting medal drought when she achieved bronze at the Rio Olympics. While Robles has an outside chance of placing as well — or even better — than she did in 2016, Team USA is bringing several other heavy hitters that could take home some hardware of their own.
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Mattie Rogers is fresh off the performance of her life at the 2021 USAW National Championships. She set three new national records in the 81-kilogram category and significant new personal bests.
Of the Team USA males, 73-kilogram junior Clarence “CJ” Cummings Jr. is a potential gold medalist. Cummings Jr. is widely considered the country’s most promising athlete in the last decade, displaying absurd levels of strength and recently jerking a mere three kilograms under Shi Ziyong’s world record. He is a safe bet for the podium if he snatches well, with an extremely outside chance of being crowned Olympic Champion if luck goes his way.
Georgia’s reputation in weightlifting over the last five years has been preceded by the colossal achievements of one man — Lasha Talakhadze — but their consistent performance at international events as a team deserves recognition.
Georgia racked up the third-highest number of gold medals at the 2019 World Weightlifting Championships and was among the most dominant nations to compete at the 2020 European Championships. 96-kilogram Anton Pliesnoi is likely to see his day in the sun with longtime rivals Tian Tao and Sohrab Moradi not present. However, Pliesnoi will have to best Qatari athlete Meso Hassona if he wants to stand atop the podium.
But the man in question — who has helped cement Georgia as a power in the sport — is +109-kilogram Lasha Talakhadze. It would be nearly impossible to find an informed fan of weightlifting who would contest Talakhadze as the best to ever do it in the super heavyweight division. At only 27 years old, Talakhadze has established and subsequently broken every world record in the +109-kilogram class since 2016.
On to the Games
Weightlifting enthusiasts have faced a rollercoaster of news regarding this Olympic event, even before the pandemic turned the world of sports on its head. With the competition set to begin in just a few weeks, the athletes who have worked hard over the last five years can finally breathe a sigh of relief, and the fans can sit back and enjoy the best weightlifting has to offer.
Featured Image: Shutterstock/Shahjehan