• Taylor Seid

How the ban on fans affected the 2020 olympics

By Taylor Seid

August 12, 2021

Photo Credit: Time Magazine

After the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was already delayed for a year due to Covid-19, the International Olympic Committee provided another devastating setback: banning all spectators.


The ban didn’t just affect the athletes’ Olympic experiences, but it also caused financial losses for the organizers, the city of Tokyo, and numerous sponsors.


Prior to the ban, it was expected that ticket sales would bring in about $830 million in revenue for the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committees for the Olympic Games. Instead, the organizers ended up with nothing and the city lost out on tourism revenue from meals, transportation, hotels, and merchandise.


In addition, many sponsors of the Games were forced to reassess their in-arena deals as the absence of fans greatly decreased their activation opportunities, making it difficult for them to generate value from their partnerships.


When faced with the adversity of banning fans, Olympic organizers needed to find new ways to deliver a memorable Games.


NBC, the official broadcaster of the Olympics, aired real-time reactions of the families of Olympians from their homes. The Olympic Broadcasting Services created innovative platforms for fan engagement such as an online cheer map and a fan video wall that gave people the opportunity to interact with and cheer on their favorite athletes and teams. These new features helped capture the raw emotion that live crowds normally provide, enhancing the overall Olympic experience this year.


Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how future Olympics incorporate some of these features that the Tokyo committee cleverly debuted.