Channel 4 unveils Tokyo 2020 Paralympics coverage plans

05 Jul 2021

By: Sport Industry Group

Channel 4 has announced its plans to cover the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, as well as its line-up of presenting and punditry talent.

The broadcaster says its plans are its ‘most ambitious’ yet for the event, and include a multi-location studio format, as well as over 1,000 hours of coverage across TV and its digital channels - including a dedicated Paralympics microsite with up to 16 live streams. 

Each day, coverage will include a Paralympic Breakfast Show and morning sports competition broadcast live from Leeds, where the broadcaster’s National HQ is based, while a Highlights show will come to UK audiences from Tokyo, before returning to Leeds for an early evening show celebrating ParalympicsGB medals of the day, followed by The Last Leg, which will be broadcast to audiences daily from London. Live overnight sporting coverage will come from Japan.

More 4 will be turned into a dedicated’ team sports channel’ live from Tokyo which will see matches featuring ParalympicsGB teams in wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball.

Channel 4 and More 4 will both carry live subtitles, while the Opening Ceremony will have live signing and live enhanced open AD/commentary simulcast on 4Seven. The broadcaster says the ‘majority of content’ on the Paralympics Microsite will also have subtitles.

Produced by Whisper and sponsored by Toyota, Channel 4’s coverage will feature a presenting team featuring the largest number of disabled presenters ever seen on UK television  - at over 70% of the cohort.

Presenters in Tokyo will include Ade Adepitan helming the Highlights show, with established broadcasters Sophie Morgan, JJ Chalmers, and Ed Jackson based in Japan. They will be joined by Lee McKenzie and Vick Hope who will report from the Host Country.

In the UK, Clare Balding will present live sport finals from Leeds, which take place in the morning time BST, while Arthur Williams and Steph McGovern will head up a daily Paralympics Breakfast Show from the same location. 

Comedy show the Last Leg, produced by Open Mike, will also be ‘placed at the heart’ of Channel 4’s prime time schedule throughout the entirety of the Tokyo Paralympic Games, according to the broadcaster. The show will see talent Adam Hills, Alex Brooker and Josh Widdicombe present their show daily from London and will be joined by Rosie Jones reporting from Tokyo.

Meanwhile, the broadcaster has also unveiled an expert punditry line-up including Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Steve Brown, Liam Malone, Danny Crates, and Liz Johnson.

“Channel 4 has long played a fundamental role in bringing a global audience to the Paralympic Games and for shifting perceptions of disabled people through our significant investment in coverage and award-winning marketing campaigns for London 2012 and Rio 2016,” said Ian Katz, Director of Programmes, Channel 4.

“Now we’re finally able to get excited about bringing the long-awaited Tokyo 2020 Paralympics to UK viewers with even more coverage than ever before across multiple platforms, from multiple locations and hosted by a stellar presenting team. 

“We’re looking forward to bringing the best coverage possible to the British public so we can all get behind ParalympicsGB and celebrate their success in Tokyo.”

The broadcaster has multi-platform broadcast rights within the UK and will commit to screening 16 live streams on its Paralympics Microsite, showing over 1,000 hours of coverage. 

The delayed Games will see the broadcaster build on its coverage of London 2012 and Rio 2016 which broke UK viewing records for Paralympic sport.

It will also coincide with a ‘strong season’ of long and short form editorial build-up programming which will commence later in the summer, and will include programming fronted by Jonnie Peacock, Billy Monger and Sophie Morgan, as well as an exclusive series with Olympic athlete Michael Johnson meeting ParalympicsGB athletes.