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How to Watch the Olympics for Free: Over-the-Air and Streaming Online

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Barring the occasional pandemic, we can enjoy the Olympics every two years. It’s a time that the world comes together to watch the best in a wide variety of sports that often get obscured by the big sporting leagues.

In a hurry? All of these services provide excellent coverage of the Olympics — and a lot more:

  • Fubo: The best streaming service for international sports also provides 150+ well-selected channels. Fubo allows you to try out its service with a free trial.
  • DIRECTV STREAM: Get a great channel lineup with the best selection of RSNs in the industry. A 5-day free trial is now available for DIRECTV STREAM.
  • Sling TV: This low-cost service allows you to select just the channel lineup you want. Save 50% on Sling TV now.

If you can’t watch your favorite sports because of your location, get ExpressVPN to access the content you deserve.

In a hurry? Unfortunately, we don’t know a streaming service in that offers this TV channel/sport. But if you’ve already paid for the right service, and just can’t watch because of your location, there is an easy way to get the sports, movies, and TV you deserve. You need a VPN, like one of the following.


1. ExpressVPN: Established VPN provider in 105 countries. Smart DNS, a built-in ad-blocker, and unlimited bandwidth. Try it with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Private Internet Access

3. Private Internet Access: The only no-logs VPN with a location for every US state. Get 82% off + 2 months free.

If you’re overwhelmed and not sure where to begin, you’ll find all the answers in our full VPN guide.

Stream the Olympics on Fubo (free trial)

Our upcoming games are (with complete viewer’s guides):

Stream the Olympics on Fubo (free trial)

Olympics History

The modern Olympic Games started in 1896 by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which itself was founded in 1894.

The first event took place in April of 1986 in Athens, Greece. Roughly a dozen countries competed in nine sports: Athletics, Cycling (Road, Track), Fencing, Gymnastics, Shooting, Swimming, Tennis, Weight Lifting, and Wrestling. Women did not start competing at the Olympics until the 1900 Games.

The first winter sport was added to the Summer Games in 1908. That was figure skating. The Winter Games themselves didn’t begin until 1924. It featured 5 sports (9 disciplines): Bobsleigh, Curling, Ice Hockey, Skating (Figure Skating, Speed Skating), and Nordic Skiing (Military Patrol, Cross-Country Skiing, Nordic Combined, Ski Jumping).

The Olympics have grown enormously since these early years. There will be over 200 National Olympic Committees (roughly the equivalent of countries) represented at the 2024 Paris Summer Games. And they will compete in 329 events in 32 sports (48 disciplines).

The Winter games are smaller. The 2022 Beijing Games featured 109 events in 7 sports (15 disciplines). Roughly 90 countries were represented.

Stream the Olympics on Fubo (free trial)

Olympic Women's Ice Hockey
Image cropped from Women’s Ice Hockey Japan vs Sweden by Sandro Halank under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Olympics Broadcasting

The 1936 German Summer Olympics were the first to be televised and one of the first broadcasts ever. That was right before the start of World War II and the following four Olympics (1940, 1944) were canceled.

CBS was the first to broadcast the Olympics to a US audience — showing both the Winter and Summer Games that year. In 1964, ABC presented the Winter Games and NBC presented the Summer Games. ABC dominated broadcasting from then through the 1988 Winter Games.

In recent years, NBC has been the home of the Olympic Games. They have broadcast every Summer Game since 1988 and every Winter Game since 2002. This will continue through the 2032 Games in Brisbane, Australia.

In the United Kingdom, the BBC has been broadcasting the games since 1956 with ITV doing so some years. RTÉ has mostly been the home of the Olympics in Ireland.

In Canada, the CBC has been the primary Olympics broadcast but things have been spread around in more recent years. At the 2024 Games, broadcasting will be shared by CBC, TSN, Sportsnet, and RDS.

The Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) brought the first several Olympics to viewers in Australia. But in recent years, it has bounced around between Network 10, Seven Network, and Nine Network. In 2024, it will be featured on Nine.

TV New Zealand (TVNZ) was the home of the Olympics for many years. These days, it is mostly on Sky Sport (sometimes along with TVNZ). Sky Television has exclusive rights to the 2024 Games.

Stream the Olympics on Fubo (free trial)

Wrapping Up

Viewers around the world can watch the best sports every two years — often for free! For fans in the United States, we recommend Fubo. Fubo allows you to try out its service with a free trial.


What countries have won the most Olympic medals?

The exact number of Olympic medals won by different countries is a bit complicated. Countries change over time. The best example of this is the Soviet Union, which won 1,204 total medals during its existence. But it broke up into 15 different countries at the end of 1991.

To get an accurate picture of the number of medals that belong to “Russia,” we would need to combine the Russian Empire (1721-1917), some fraction of the Soviet Union (1917-1991), the Russian Federation (1991-today), plus the medals won by the ROC.

With that understood, here are the top medal wins. Also note that these numbers vary a small amount depending upon the source.

Soviet Union1,204473376355
Great Britain950296323331

These winners are followed in order of total medal wins by Italy (759), China (713), Sweden (679), Japan (573), Norway (568), Australia (566), Canada (551), and Russia (545).

If we look at the average number of medals per Olympics, the numbers are USSR (67), US (57), Russian (45), China (31), Germany (31), Great Britain (18), France (17), Italy (15), Sweden (13), Japan (13), Australia (12), Norway (11), and Canada (11). Note that these can also be deceptive because they don’t take into account the number of athletes or competitions.

Why isn’t Russia in the recent Olympics?

Russia was banned from the Olympics, Paralympics, and World Championships for two years following an investigation by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The organization found that over a thousand athletes had been involved in a state-sponsored doping program. As a result, Russian athletes are competing under the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC). To avoid confusion, we list them as Russia in our medals count table.

What is Chinese Taipei?

Chinese Taipei is the name given to Taiwan for international sporting events. This is due to the conflict regarding Taiwan’s sovereignty. Taiwan considers itself an independent state and China considers Taiwan part of China. To allow Taiwanese athletes to compete in such events, Taiwan is referred to as Chinese Taipei, and no symbols (eg, flags, national anthem) from the republic are allowed.

What happened to the 2020 Olympics?

Normally, the Olympic Summer Games would have occurred in 2020. But it was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So even though the Games are occurred in 2021, they are normally referred to as the 2020 Summer Olympics or Tokyo 2020. The Winter Olympic Games will be held at their normal time and the next Summer Games will be held as normal in 2024.

Why does the host country always do so well at the Olympics?

No one knows for sure but with the notable exception of the USA in the 1996 Atlanta Games, the host country always does better than in the Games before and after it. That was true of Brazil in 2016 and seems to be happening with Japan now who are currently leading in Gold medals.

Three reasons have been proposed for this. First is the effect of the local crowd. That wouldn’t be such a big deal in Tokyo, however, since there isn’t much of a crowd. The second is being familiar with sporting venues, which can be especially important in events like baseball. And finally, there is the fact that the host country’s athletes don’t need to travel.

What happened to The Olympic Channel?

The Olympic Channel is no longer in operation. And even when it was, during the last set of Olympic Games, it was only used for lesser events. Since that time, NBCUniversal has moved content that would have air on The Olympic Channel to other channels in its stable — especially USA Network.

More Olympics Information

Stream the Olympics on Fubo (free trial)

Archery at the 2012 Olympics via Korean Culture and Information Service under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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Frank Moraes
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