Bringing the fans to the Olympics through technology

Japan 2020

TOKYO — Created by the International Olympic Committee in 2001 the OBS, Olympic Broadcasting Services, is responsible for the sights and sounds of the games to billions of fans all over the world. It’s only fitting that now they’re bringing the sights and sounds of fans to the Olympics.

As the medal count climbs for Team USA, athletes are reaching feats of glory inside stadiums that are cavernous and nearly empty.

“Everyone knows that a stadium without fans loses something, but we wanted to make sure we could do better for it,” says Matt Millington, Director of Digital Content for OBS.

Four months ago when the Olympics banned most fans Millington hatched a plan to bring the roar of the crowd to the Olympics.

“It allows fans from across the world to cheer for their country from a website and also upload selfie videos. These are projected onto the video scoreboards,” says Millington.

The module called Cheer Zone, which is on the Olympics’ website, shows an interactive map displaying where the applause and video uploads are originating from in real-time.

“It’s not just about fans themselves, studies have shown that athletes also react to the noise and the support that a full stadium can generate,” says Millington.

While athletes may be too focused during competition to notice, a personal touch may be enough to make them feel at home.

Millington says, “We’ll have their family ready and waiting on the TV monitor and they’ll be able to pass along their best wishes and congratulations.”

With a virus distancing the world, the Olympics found another way to bring us together.

“They must feel very, very removed (16) so to be able to get them to connect immediately after event, it means a lot to them but it also means a lot to us.”

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