Military members, veterans and their families will be able to watch more than 5,500 streaming hours of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo for free, including all 41 sports and 339 medal events, through a partnership between the Army and Air Force Exchange Service and Comcast NBCUniversal.

The access will be available to those authorized to shop at military exchanges, including the honorably discharged veterans who are authorized to shop online at exchanges.

The Games of the XXXII Olympiad are scheduled for July 23 through Aug. 8. The free offer also extends to the Paralympic Games, which will be held from Aug. 24 through Sept. 5, with about 1,000 hours of streaming.

According to AAFES officials, those eligible can access the NBCUniversal coverage from their computers or personal devices by visiting NBCOlympics.com or the NBC Sports app, clicking on the event you want to watch, and choosing “Exchange” as their service provider when the screen appears. (AAFES refers to itself as “Exchange.”)

Because of content rights restrictions, authorized customers must have an active ShopMyExchange.com account, which you can establish by going to that website and being verified as eligible.

Viewers will have access to streaming coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies, medal ceremonies, the NBC primetime show, and feeds from all competition sessions.

Viewers outside the continental U.S. must be physically located on an installation and subscribe to an internet service through an authorized service provider, to gain access to the free streaming. These internet service providers have worked with AAFES on the technical solutions allowing streaming viewership on U.S. military installations overseas, according to AAFES spokesman Chris Ward.

There are authorized providers in OCONUS that do serve other branches of service, Ward said.

Authorized overseas internet service providers:

  • 101 GLOBAL - Bulgaria, Iraq
  • Allied Telesis - Japan
  • Americable - Japan
  • Babtel - Qatar
  • Basefix - Turkey
  • Boingo - Korea, Okinawa
  • DHI - Iraq, Romania
  • DSN - Kosovo
  • LG Uplus - Korea
  • Mediatti Broadband - Japan
  • Solutions by STC - Kuwait
  • Telecom Italia - Italy
  • TKS - Germany
  • US Wicom - Iraq

This year’s games will look a bit different. Officials in Tokyo announced that spectators will not be allowed at Olympic venues in Tokyo or any other areas of the country that are under restrictions to combat a rise in COVID-19 cases. In April, officials announced spectators from overseas wouldn’t be allowed to attend the Olympics. The Summer Olympics were canceled last year because of COVID-19, but the International Olympic Committee decided to keep the “2020″ in the name for the games being held in 2021.

This is the third time AAFES has worked with NBCUniversal to offer free streaming of the Olympics, in partnership with local cable, satellite, telecommunications and other providers.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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