TikTok at the Olympics: A New Way to See the Games
By: Jonathan Lipman
The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games have been full of firsts and surprises. After the games were postponed for the first time in its 125-year history, the games kicked off last Friday with opening ceremonies. This year’s Olympics look very different than any Olympic games have in the past. The 2020 Olympics have all of the world-class athletes and thrilling competition that we know and love, except there are no fans in attendance to witness the events live.
With spectators being limited to watching through television or streams, the athletes have taken to social media to provide additional content for the world to see. The emergence of the social media platform, TikTok, has given athletes a new medium for communicating with fans. Olympians have posted behind the scenes footage of practice, dining halls, entertainment lounges, and even videos of them jumping on the beds to debunk the rumor that the Olympic Village provided cardboard beds insufficient for the athletes to sleep on.
TikTok gained popularity mainly during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic and gave users an easy, entertaining outlet to stay busy and pass time while being isolated from family, friends, and normal everyday life. As the world began to open up again, TikTok remained relevant and became an outlet for creators to share their experiences as professional athletes living in a pandemic.
Athletes have been using TikTok in Tokyo to show everything from team facilities to their massive PPE hauls to ensure they’re staying safe and healthy for competition. One of our favorite accounts belongs to Team USA’s Kendall Chase, a member of the women’s rowing team whose videos include educational segments about the Olympics and LGBTQIA+ content, titling her and some of her fellow athletes “OlympiGays”. Distinction Agency’s very own, Kelsey Robinson, is also making waves on TikTok with her videos of the opening ceremonies and training days. Kelsey includes many of her teammates in the videos to show how they like to stay busy and enjoy their time in the Olympic Village.
Leading up to the Olympics, many athletes sought out opportunities to profit off of their social media and generate partnerships with brands and companies to endorse their product. With an estimated 1 billion monthly users, companies such as Xfinity are communicating with consumers via TikTok to reach their desired audience.
While this year’s games might not have the spectators that we’re accustomed to seeing in the stadiums, the additional content provided through TikTok and other social media provides a refreshing window into the lives of the athletes. With over a week left until closing ceremonies, be sure to keep an eye out for athletes sharing more of their experiences.