New approaches the media will use to cover the Olympics and some they should consider

As you know Tokyo 2020 is coming up , and is on track to be held during these turbulent times. We now know the games will have spectators in attendance, with soon to be more information available. What we do know is there will be some form of a recognizable Olympic and Paralympic atmosphere, just on a much smaller scale. Because of this limitation of regular in person viewership, Tokyo organizers are looking at some ways to bring new engagement to the Olympic and Paralympic games. While orthodox methods of television, radio and now streaming seem to be the most suitable and will certainly be the most popular, here are some ways the organizing bodies of the IOC and IPC are and should consider covering the games in the future.

POV Spectator & VR Broadcasting

Leading up to the Olympics and Paralympics, there were countdown events held throughout Tokyo. While much of the focus was on the main stages and speakers at these events, there were actually many booths set up around the venues that allowed for some more interactive experiences within the community. One of the most popular booths was the VR tent, which allowed people to take a look at the point of view of cyclers, runners and for winter sports bobsleigh.

With the rise of the technology as of late, the organizers plan on implementing VR in some capacity at the upcoming Tokyo 2020 games. It is still unclear to the general public, exactly in which ways this will be incorporated, but we do know there will be 50 hours of live virtual reality coverage, and will be available on a variety of platforms. If you wanna check out more information, link below.

How to Watch Olympics 2020 Live in Virtual Reality (VR) | Olympics 2021 (olympicsvenue.com)

Photo via: readwrite.com

It seems unlikely that this live coverage will be from the perspective of athletes themselves, but in the future it definitely should be. For example, attaching miniscule cameras on the front of bicycles or helmets will allow people to appreciate the speed cyclists are going. Or perhaps on the ball or javelin in throwing events would also be a neat perspective for fans. The possibilities for further progress in this field seem countless.

Mic’d Up Athletes

Every 2 years we see ways in which technology has developed to further cover the Olympic and Paralympic games. NBC, the official broadcaster of the games have highlighted some of the developments , and described how they will try to get closer access to the athletes. Despite these improvements, one of the most intriguing options still left relatively unexplored is mic’d up athletes. This has seemingly little coverage surrounding the use of this method in the upcoming games. It was utilized in the last winter games, where top level curlers wore during competition but few places else.

Attaching tiny microphones seems to be a simple method to give us insights into the athletes viewpoint, more so than VR. We have seen many mainstream athletic leagues like the NFL and NBA doing this to get little tidbits behind the scenes and access to see the dynamics of on the field play. It gives a much more intimate feeling, with some very cool moments coming from them. Such as seeing NFL athletes pump up teammates or this year with NBA superstar Kevin Durant having some discourse on the intricacies of basketball when playing defence.

This approach has been tried at the Olympic Games before, but it wasn’t implemented by the IOC or broadcasting partners, but rather by USA Swimming. They didn’t mic up athletes, but instead chose to do so with coaches. While certainly entertaining and shows you how top level coaches help their Olympic athletes, it doesn’t have the same impact as an athlete mid competition. These sound bites could be used in a number of ways, from mid broadcast segments during live events, or longer uncut videos uploaded to their YouTube channel. If you wanna check out some videos from Rio 2016 of mic’d up coaches, here’s a below.

USA Swimming’s coach David Marsh at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. ©USASwimming

A U.I that can navigate venues and cameras angles

As the youth become more and more engaged in digital media, creating an online user interface system that is more interactive seems important. With so much content on the internet, and the well documentation and research supporting attention span decreasing when it comes to media consumption, it seems important to give something with options. A new kind of viewing experience could be enough to capture and garner further support among younger viewership.

Essentially the idea would be to make a map centered around the Olympics and all venues hosting events. When broadcasts go live, the venues would turn green on the map. These can then be clicked on which would zoom in on that particular venue. In the venue themselves there should be multiple angles in which people can choose from. These options would be represented by small camera icons throughout the venue and hypothetically could be instantaneously switched between on demand. Perhaps even dual screening multiple shot to get a truly unique experience.

Tokyo 2020 Venue Map. ©Gary Lane

These camera angles to choose from, should be from a variety of distances and angles to give different feelings. This will give people the illusion of freedom, or perhaps the feeling that they are at the venues themselves. For example, yes the traditional overhead shots often utilized on TV, but also from different crowd positions around the venue, to feel like part of the fandom, and it should be able to give coverage from on the ground by the coaches and athletes themselves. This form of creating your own “broadcasting experience”, would also not need much added attention in terms of man power, as you can simply stream unedited shots live.

Of course this is just spit balling ideas to boost engagement and at the end of the day could just be an alternative viewing method that never gains traction. But what’s the harm of trying this new interactive and all access method of viewing the world’s largest sporting event. We will have to wait and see, how the media covers the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Games, and learn how to possibly evolve the coverage in the future.

If you wish to contact me, you can reach me at shotarohmoore@hotmail.com

A writer living in Japan. Creating articles about the 2020 Tokyo Games. A regular contributor to Junkture Magazine. https://www.junkturemagazine.com