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TV highlights for Friday, July 23: All Olympics, all the time
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TV highlights for Friday, July 23: All Olympics, all the time

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After a year of delay, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (6:30 p.m., NBC) begin. Tonight’s broadcast of the opening ceremonies, the lighting of the cauldron and parade of nations actually took place this morning. But what’s the difference of a few hours when you’re celebrating the official 2020 games taking place in 2021?

Expect some 7,000 hours of coverage on NBC and affiliated networks, including CNBC, the Golf Channel, NBC Olympics, NBC Sports Network, Telemundo and USA. Peacock, NBC’s free streaming service, will also offer a wealth of Olympic events.

After last year, sports fans are probably accustomed to games played before empty stands. But the prospect of an opening ceremony taking place in a cavernous stadium devoid of people will certainly inspire comparisons to Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone.”

Many Olympic Games have been marred by tragedy. Remember the Olympic Games of 1916, 1940 or 1944? Of course you don’t, because the world was consumed by war during those summers. Cold War boycotts distorted the competition in 1980 and 1984. The 1972 games were the site of a murderous terrorist attack in the Olympic Village.

American media obsessed about the Black power gestures made by Olympians during the 1968 games, but paid scant attention to the massacre of students and protestors that preceded the event. You would think the slaughter of some 400 people by Mexican troops would have canceled, postponed or moved the opening ceremony, but in 1968, the Olympic Games went on. Remember, Hitler wanted the 1936 games to showcase white supremacy. Jesse Owens had other plans.

Against such history, the prospect of a fan-free games is peculiar — but not terribly earth-shattering.

TONIGHT’S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

Home projects on “Secret Celebrity Renovation” (7 p.m., CBS).

Product pitches on “Shark Tank” (7 p.m., ABC, rerun).

“Music Box: Woodstock 99: Peace, Love and Rage” (8 p.m., HBO) recalls a festival reboot that unraveled.

Erin feels the heat on “Blue Bloods” (9 p.m., CBS, rerun).

NEW ON STREAMING

“Ted Lasso” returns for a second season, streaming on Apple TV+. Jason Sudeikis stars in the title role as an unknown American college football coach hired to take over a British soccer, make that football, team. He’s initially hired by the new owner, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham), to destroy the institution, the thing her despised ex-husband loves most in the world. But, in the logic of these things, she, and the team’s players and fans, are slowly beguiled by Ted’s folksy ways.

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