Keep calm and watch the Olympics

Olympics season is here again!

This time it’s held in Tokyo, and hence within the Asian timezone, which means no staying up late to catch live sports broadcasts. Given the year (and counting) that we’ve had, the most impressive feat of this Olympics is that it was even held, despite being delayed by one year.

It’s still called the Tokyo 2020 Olympics though, which does sound a little strange. But then again, it’s been a really strange year, so I suppose it’s strangely appropriate.

We watched the entire opening ceremony, and it did seem more subdued compared to past years. The most interesting bit was definitely the live re-enactment of the sport pictograms by actors in blue-and-white skinsuits, which was very innovative and very entertaining.

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the entire 6 min 44 second clip. The actors must have spent a lot of time practising, but they still had a minor hiccup at #10 Badminton, which I thought made it more believable and authentic.

The athlete march-in was, according to the commentator, based on Japanese alphabetical (katakana?) order of country name, and we couldn’t tell how far along it was as it progressed.

One country that caught our attention was the Refugee Olympic Team (EOR), which is comprised of 56 refugee athletes from 13 countries, funded by scholarships provided by the IOC. Apparently it’s the second year that EOR has participated, the first being the Rio 2016 Olympics, though I didn’t notice them then.

Another country that was interesting was the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC). My first reaction upon hearing their name as they marched in was: “Huh? The organising committee members themselves are also competing, in addition to the actual Russian athletes?”

After some Googling, it turns out that they were the actual Russian athletes, but because of a global competition ban due to systemic and state-sponsored doping, the IOC and Russia worked out a deal where they would be called the ROC instead, with a separately designed flag.

And when any of their athletes win a gold medal, the Russian national anthem wouldn’t be played. Instead, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 would be broadcast. If you are like me and don’t know what it sounds like, here you go:

I asked The Wife to give me a list of sports that she wanted to watch and I combined it with my list to come up with a total of 12 sports. Now, I just had to find the best way to watch them live on our television.

No.SportMeThe Wife
2Artistic Swimming
8Sport Climbing
10Table Tennis

A quick search on the internet led me to MediaCorp’s meWatch mobile app, which I could connect to our TV via our Chromecast dongle. I also had to sign-up first, before I was allowed to access the Olympics content, but it was a fair trade since it was free.

The coverage seemed quite extensive, and the meWatch website had a handy scheduling feature which you could filter by selected sports, and all related broadcasts would appear for the selected date.

Here’s an example using our selected 12 sports for Wednesday, 28 July. It would have been better if the sports choices could have been saved, so that I could reference the schedule on my mobile without having to re-select each time I browsed.

I managed to work around it by saving each day’s schedule as a PDF file, and then opening the PDF on my phone. It’s a bit clunky for sure, but it works.

Given that many of the schedules overlap, it was useful that meWatch also stored completed events and categorised them by sports.

There was also a handy “Continue Watching” feature for replays that were started and not finished.

We’ve been watching the first few days of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics using meWatch connected to our TV via Chromecast for the past few days now, and it’s been quite smooth and stable. No mid-stream crashes and video resolution has been quite good.

There have been some events that were labelled wrongly on the schedule, but could have partly been due programming changes from the Olympics broadcaster. For the most part, the schedules have been accurate.

So, it looks like it’s going to be sports all day, every day, for the next week or so. Should be fun!

Featured image source: International Olympic Committee

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