The Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 is finally underway after a year-long wait for the international championships to return to TV screens worldwide.
With 33 sports in total on offer at this year’s games, in what is pledged to be the largest Olympics to date despite the coronavirus pandemic, there is no shortage of tense moments in the competition to keep us glued to our TV screens.
The International Olympic Committee sold the bulk of UK television rights to Tokyo Olympics 2020 content to streaming service Discovery+ in a huge package deal, forcing the British public service broadcaster to relinquish their rights to hosting Olympics coverage for the UK.
When broadcasting the Rio 2016 Olympics, the BBC achieved a record digital and television audience for an overseas Olympics as 45.24million people tuned into the the Brazil-based games.
Here’s what is different about the BBC’s Olympics coverage this year and where the company’s main Olympics studio is actually based for Tokyo 2020.
Where is the BBC Olympic Studio?
Rather than being stationed at the Olympic grounds of the host country, as is normally the case for most BBC Olympics broadcasts, this year has seen a departure from the usual approach to coverage.
While its studio may appear to overlook the sprawling Tokyo landscape, it is in fact located in Salford, England. But the BBC studio has been given a makeover with a green screen of a dramatic Tokyo skyline placed behind presenters to bring the Japanese capital to life for viewers at home.
This is because not only is Tokyo some eight hours ahead of the UK, which requires a huge shake-up in production, staffing and filming for crew living in the UK, but because Covid-19 has continued to ground travel plans amid spikes in positive cases worldwide.
Instead, the studio based in MediaCity, Salford has deployed virtual reality (VR) technology to try and recreate the eclectic capital for British audiences, with some viewers shocked to learn of the studio’s real location from presenters and sports personalities such as Sir Chris Hoy on social media.
As the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 got underway on Friday July 23, the Scottish cycling legend tweeted: “And we’re off!
"Amazing to be part of this fantastic @BBCSport team for @Tokyo2020!
“And in case you’re wondering, we’re in sunny Salford not Tokyo.. #instagramvsreality”
Mr Hoy posted two images side-by-side to show the reality of the BBC studio, with a huge green screen flanking himself and fellow BBC presenters Clare Balding and Alex Scott.
Dan Walker also tweeted a picture of what the studio really looks like.
Is the BBC broadcasting from Tokyo?
While the BBC Sports and TV production teams are not presenting the Olympics live from Japan this year, there are a number of BBC journalists who are reporting on the ground in Tokyo.
This includes the BBC Scotland sports team, who were forced to quarantine following their flight to Tokyo after being identified as close contacts of a case onboard their flight.
BBC Sports News Correspondent Chris McLaughlin shared the news on Twitter last week.
"Hugely frustrated that BBC Scotland team here in Tokyo identified as close contacts to a Covid case on flight over,” he tweeted.
"Rules say self isolate in hotel room for 14 days. Numerous PCR tests negative. Athletes on same flight also identified but rules say they don’t isolate. #Tokyo2020”