Despite arriving a year late, what should have been 2020’s summer of sport has given us some great moments to celebrate. And it’s wrapping up with an Olympic Games unlike any other.
It’s been a strange year for athletes, sports pundits and broadcasters across the board, but the Tokyo Olympics 2020, and all those involved, has arguably faced some of the trickiest conditions. For starters, athletes have had to compete for career highs without family friends and fans there to support.
Broadcasters too have had to rise to the demands of a pandemic-era tournament. Along with Covid restrictions, BBC reporting has also had to grapple with a change to the broadcasting licence terms that had previously allowed free reign of live coverage. That’s without the usual challenges of covering 33 sports taking place in a short space of time on the other side of the world.
The public funding behind the BBC is central to the rich range of content we have access to in return. But the Beeb’s sustained place at the front and centre of our media is arguably a testament to its staff and the service’s ability to adapt, evolve, and diversify.
For the Olympics, it’s had to do exactly that. Logistical decisions on what events audiences want to see live on TV have been balanced alongside streaming options, and an online live feed. Yes, a few hiccups, but on the whole the most memorable moments have landed live. And for those who aren’t keen on getting up early – or staying up late – to catch 3am starts, the afternoon roundup has all the headlines.
The BBC team has really put a human face to the games too. From interviews with former stars that can empathise with competitors, to studio celebrations, commiserations and important discussions about mental health, pundits have taken viewers on a compelling journey in Japan. And for the most part, from the confines of a studio in Salford.
Then there’s the live commentary. Tokyo 2020 has served up a host of new events such as skateboarding, BMX and mixed team events. While viewers can tell just how impressive these Olympians are in their field, it’s the communication from commentators that helps us make sense of unfamiliar events.
So, when you’re up at 7am on Saturday cheering on Tom Daley’s bid for a second gold medal, remember the people and organisation that have brought us his story over the last 13 years too.
There’s a bit of boxing, the pentathlon and water polo taking place around that time too. Whatever floats your boat.
Roxanne Blake is an account manager at Camargue