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Is The Olympics Still Relevant?

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As the Tokyo Olympics has come to a close, competitors must move on from the excitement of experiencing an Olympic Games (for the first time for many) and focus for the next tournament. As viewers we can look back at another successful medal haul for the biggest nations. Punters taking part in sports betting online and offline could have predicted that easily

USA were the overall winners of the Tokyo Olympics winning 113 medals, including 39 gold’s, making them the most prolific medal-winning nation in the history of the Olympics. With 39 gold medals in Tokyo, they edged rivals China who came away with 38 and were the second most successful country in the Tokyo Olympics picking up 88 medals in total.

Great Britain managed 22 gold medals, including a first for Tom Daley when he and his partner Matty Lee won the 10 meter synchronised diving gold. GB came in fourth overall behind host nation Japan in third who won 27 gold medals.

Do the Figures Tell a Story?

Despite the US success in Tokyo, viewing figures in the US took a big hit this year which was bad news for the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) who bought the broadcasting rights for the games.

The opening ceremony had around 17 million viewers in the US, which was a decline of roughly 36% from the 2016 games in Rio. Due to the time difference NBC aired the opening ceremony twice, live in the morning and again in prime time. This has been part of a steady drop off over the past three Olympics, with 26.5 million viewers for the 2016 opening ceremony and a record-breaking 40.7 million for the London 2012 opening ceremony.

One reason for this decline in viewershipwas having too many options at the same time and viewers struggling to find the events they want to watch. With events being streamed through digital platforms, viewers at times did not have the ability to view. NBCUniversal aired the games across two broadcast networks, six cable and multiple digital platforms which looking back needed to have been streamlined and made easier for the viewer to navigate.

Another reason can be put down to the time difference. Viewership in Australia and Japan was up from the last Olympics in Brazil. In Australia they saw a 20% increase for the opening ceremony and in Japan, 70 million people watched the event, which was the most in the last 10 years for the country. In Europe, as well as the US, numbers were down with events often taking place in the early hours of the morning for viewers.

Changes are Natural

These reasons for the lower viewership from the US and Europe do not take away from the Olympics as an event in itself, or its relevance in the sporting world. The expanding format gives the opportunity for a more diverse range of viewers, especially since the addition of six new events including Skateboarding, Surfing and Sport Climbing introduced in Tokyo.

Younger audiences were being drawn in by the skateboarding, especially highlighted by the age of some of the winners including 13-year-old Japanese skater MomjiiNishiya winning gold in the women’s street event and 13-year-old Sky Brown of Great Britain winning bronze in the women’s park event.

For some the new events may be taking away the essence of the Olympics, and with such a wide variety of events the competition has changed too much from its original format. Older audiences still make up a high percentage of viewing figures, highlighted by the median age of US viewers for 2008 being 47 and rising to 48 for the 2012 London games. With the Olympics aims of reaching new, younger audiences, it has had to tread the line between appearing ‘young and cool’ as well as retaining its older audience.

This can be difficult with some sports such as Skateboarding, having a different style of competing to standard track and field competitors with a more laid back style not necessarily fitting in with the Olympics rigid rules of competing. It will be something the IOC has been, and will continue to try to find a healthy balance to ensure it stays relevant going forwards.

While the work on viewership continues, the affect of the Olympics on a host nation can be good on a local, national and international level. Jobs are created, even years before the games are to be held with planning, investment and building needed to be organised.

This can offer revitalisation to areas with modern buildings and more tourism, helping local businesses as much as the nation as a whole. Once running, the games often bring in huge numbers of tourists looking to attend the events. The games can be spread out more with events such as surfing and sailing usually being in different locations to the track and field events, meaning more than one area benefits from the attending crowds.

Economically the Olympics have the opportunity to increase tourism, spending and injection of local money into a local economy for a number of weeks.

With new ways to watch and new events to experience, the Olympics is an ever-changing event which juggles the traditions with updating the games for younger audiences.

It is a continual struggle, but one which does not take away the importance of the events to those that take part, as well as those who tune in to watch. For the majority of these events, this is the pinnacle of an athlete’s career; the Olympics remains relevant today and will continue to do so with organised and creative management going forward.

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