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NBC Universal to show the Olympics in 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games
(Image credit: The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games)

NBCUniversal will air live coverage of the Tokyo Olympics in 4K HDR, a first for a US broadcaster. The NBC Olympics coverage will also be accompanied by Dolby Atmos surround sound.

Events that will be featured in 4K HDR during the rearranged Tokyo '2020' games include track and field, swimming, diving, tennis, beach volleyball, golf, gymnastics and more. 

NBCU has yet to announce the schedule, but with the Olympics said to be "100% happening" and the opening ceremony expected to get underway at 12pm BST on Friday 23rd July, the clock is very much ticking.

Accessing high-quality coverage of the world's best sprinters and swimmers might not be as easy as it sounds, though. NBCUniversal notes that while it will distribute 4K HDR coverage to its partners (i.e. cable and satellite TV networks), it will be up to those partners to decide whether to broadcast the coverage in 4K HDR or step down to a lower quality.

Not a cable subscriber anyway? NBC has confirmed it will stream live coverage of "selected" Olympic events though its Peacock streaming platform, but hasn't yet said whether any of those streams will be in the 4K HDR format. The Peacock app is available on a long list of devices that now includes most Samsung smart TVs

Still, with Japan's borders closed to foreigners, and lingering uncertainty as to the level of athlete participation this year, NBCUniversal's 4K HDR Atmos coverage could prove to be the best seat in house.

The BBC has the rights to broadcast the Olympics in the UK and has the capability to stream in 4K and HDR via the iPlayer app. Whether it will offer both for live events is yet to be confirmed, and the broadcaster has never offered Dolby Atmos before. There's a first time for everything, though.

In need of a smarter set for Tokyo 2020? Here's our guide to the best TVs and the best media streamers on the market. Live in Europe? BBC iPlayer and Eurosport 4K are expected to broadcast coverage of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 4K HDR.

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