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Virtual cheers and piped-in noise: Five ways fans will be involved in Tokyo 2020

Written by on 17/07/2021

We’ve known for two weeks now that the Tokyo Olympics will be almost entirely played out with no fans inside the venues.

Now the organisers have revealed the innovative solutions that might bring some atmosphere into empty stadiums and allow fans around the world to connect with the athletes taking part.

1. Virtual Cheers

A new tool on the digital services of some broadcasters will allow fans at home to press a button to “cheer” athletes when they do something well.

Crowds make their way toward Wembley Stadium during the London 2012 Olympics
Image: Crowds make their way toward Wembley Stadium during the London 2012 Olympics

The novelty factor might make this popular at first but you’ll need to pace yourself if you are “cheering on” the marathon.

The system will then collect all the data and create a global map which will then be shown on video boards in the venue. “It’s all gone quiet in Venezuela” the commentator might tell us.

2. Fan video matrix

More on Tokyo Olympics, 2021

Quite a few football clubs experimented with cardboard cut-out fans – Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa are among the clubs that have tried similar ideas at their stadiums.

So too is the TV show Britain’s Got Talent. Basically, hundreds of people on video calls are bunched together on a screen to provide a live audience who don’t have to leave their sofa.

3. Athlete moment

Athletes simply won’t be able to have those intense moments of joy when they go and hug their family in the stands after winning a medal.

Some venues will give some athletes the chance to connect via video call with up to five family or friends as soon as they finish their competition.

Gymnastics superstar Simone Biles arrive in Japan ahead of the Games Pic; AP
Image: Gymnastics superstar Simone Biles arrive in Japan ahead of the Games. Pic: AP

4. Virtual audio experience

As sports fans have become used to having the option of piped stadium sound effects via their TV remote for games played behind closed doors – the Tokyo Olympics will go one step further. Recordings of stadium noise from previous Olympic Games will be pumped into venues to give the athletes at least the idea of a crowd responding to what they are doing.

5. Fantasy Olympics

Fantasy football meets the Olympics – points for podium places will be just one of many interactive games for fans to encourage them to get involved in the Games.

IOC President Thomas Bach has said: “You need not feel alone in these stadia. Billions of people around the entire globe will be glued to their screens, and they will be with you in their hearts.

Team GB's Tokyo training camp at Keio University
Image: Team GB’s Tokyo training camp at Keio University

“I hope that you can feel this support from all these people, who are your true fans, who are your family, your friends and your supporters.”

The joy of live sport though has for centuries been the roar of a live crowd responding to things you don’t spot on a screen. However hard Tokyo 2020 tries – it won’t be the same.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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