2021 Olympics: What to watch as US teams are in action ahead of opening ceremony in Tokyo

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Though the Olympic torch will not be lit until Friday, the competition officially begins today at the Tokyo Games. Tuesday's first games are historic because they will be the first Olympic softball games since 2008.

Team USA is competing in one of the softball games being played Tuesday in Tokyo against Italy (11 p.m. ET), and long-time softball powers Japan and Australia will face off as well. The U.S. won gold in softball at three consecutive Olympics from 1996-2004, but the team took silver behind Japan at the 2008 Games in Beijing.

“The energy of all the teams participating in this edition of the Olympic Softball competition has been building for 13 years,” Team USA coach Ken Eriksen said in a press release. “The partnership amongst all the countries has shown that this is truly a 'world game' now more than ever before."

For die-hard USWNT fans, women's soccer will kick off at 4:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday in the United States, and a slate of other games will follow throughout the morning and afternoon. The American women are looking for redemption after they were eliminated at the 2016 Games by Sweden in the quarterfinals and sent home without a medal. The team has won the last two World Cups, and it enters this year's Olympics as a favorite regardless of the disappointing performance in Rio de Janeiro.

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How to watch

All times Eastern

NBC Sports Network: 24-hour coverage

USA: 4 a.m.-9:30 a.m.

Olympic Channel: 3:30 a.m.-9 a.m.

Live stream available on NBCOlympics.com and on the NBC Sports app, both of which require a cable subscription.

Biggest events

All times Eastern

8 p.m.: Softball — Japan vs. Australia (NBCSN)

11 p.m.: Softball — USA vs. Italy (NBCSN)

4:30 a.m.: Women's soccer group stage — USA vs. Sweden (USA)

7:30 a.m.: Women's soccer group stage — Australia vs. New Zealand (USA)

Tape-delayed events:

8:30 a.m.: Women's soccer group stage — USA vs. Sweden (NBCSN)

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Contact Emily Adams at eaadams@gannett.com or on Twitter @eaadams6.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2021 Olympics schedule: What to watch as action in Tokyo gets underway