The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) has claimed a first for a major international sports event by unveiling plans for a digital remote fan engagement solution.

The ‘Tokyo 2020 Share the Passion’ project will allow athletes’ family members, as well as spectators from all over the world, to deliver text and video messages to athletes using the latest technology and social media platforms. A selection of messages will be displayed on the big screen at certain venues.

The announcement today (Friday) comes just days after Tokyo 2020 confirmed that venues at this summer’s Olympic Games will be able to operate at 50% capacity with up to 10,000 fans permitted. The event will be open to Japanese fans only after it was announced in March that overseas spectators would not be able to attend the Games due to COVID-19 restrictions. A decision on fan attendance for the Paralympic Games is due to be made by July 16.

Tokyo 2020 Share the Passion is being backed by a number of stakeholders, including marketing partners and Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS). Tokyo 2020 president Hashimoto Seiko said: “When we announced in March that overseas spectators would unfortunately not to be able to come to Japan for the Games, we also said that we would think of ways to help people around the world share their support for the athletes.

“Although the spectator seats may not be full, the many videos and messages shared through the Tokyo 2020 Share the Passion project and displayed on the big screen will fill the venues with support from around the world, and I am sure that it will further motivate the athletes as they compete.

“In a world in which many people have been separated from each other by the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe that the Tokyo 2020 Games will help us renew our bonds with each other. We are all stronger together, and sport has the power to help bring the world together again.”

Tokyo 2020 said three types of supportive messages from fans around the world can be submitted via various social media channels. The first of these are videos with movements matching the rhythm of the ‘2020beat’.

The 2020beat project was launched in September 2019 with the view of becoming a common sound in venues come Games-time. It is designed to be an easy-to-follow melodic rhythm that fans can dance, clap or stomp to when they cheer on athletes during the Games.

Tokyo 2020 Share the Passion will also welcome videos featuring original cheers or support messages, as well as text messages of support.

OBS will provide an online ‘Cheer Map’ and ‘Fan Video Wall’. Fans worldwide will be able to cheer on their country’s athletes remotely by uploading selfie videos, a selection of which will be shown on video screens at certain venues.

The Games’ Japanese broadcast partner, NHK, will also show a selection of videos in conjunction with their own project, ‘Let’s Cheer for the World!’, on video screens at selected venues.

OBS has also created an ‘Athlete Moment’ station at selected venues, allowing athletes to connect live with friends and family right after the competition ends. Yiannis Exarchos, CEO of OBS, said: “For Tokyo 2020, we are proud to be launching a pilot project that will facilitate remote fan engagement directly with the athletes within the venues, as well as with other fans worldwide.

“Working with Tokyo 2020 and our broadcast partners, OBS has developed a suite of digital tools that will not only allow friends and family to engage with athletes within the venue, but also encourage fans all over the world to be actively involved in supporting their national heroes.”

Image: Tokyo 2020