Social media’s ‘influential’ role during the 2020 Olympics 

by | Aug 19, 2021 | Public Relations

Due to the global pandemic, the latest edition of the Olympic Games was largely virtual, which gave social media channels and digital formats a crucial role in helping people tune in to the games and following the event. This will also make the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games one of the most remembered in history because of the pandemic, which also saw the games get postponed for a year.

At stadiums that would have gathered over 15,000 people, this year they were empty, while athletes represented over 200 countries around the world. Carrying out the latest edition of the Olympics has also been one of the most expensive events in recent times, while also making them one of the least profitable events for the host country.

Despite all of the setbacks, social networks and their highlighted role, as well as other digital PR platforms, have become the key facilitators in communication, and even giving rise to conversations between the athletes participating in the games and their audiences across different countries.

Being close at a distance

Organically, a number of athletes became influencers by using social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok, when sharing their experiences throughout the games. These social media platforms also helped in shortening the distance between them and their audiences, as well as their loved ones who weren’t able to attend the event due to the pandemic.

Additionally, Japan, the host country, decided to place screens in their stadiums where the competitions were being held, so that the athletes themselves could communicate with their families and feel their support despite the distance. This was done with the help of video calls, as well as interactions through various digital platforms.


A number of the participants in the Olympic Games took advantage of social media platforms to interact with their fans directly by sharing stories and photos showing how they spend their days, their training routines, various tips on their health, and even their personal lives.

Most of the time, these athletes weren’t as accessible as they’ve been this year, especially regarding their personal lives. The social media aspect of the event allowed for more organic and entertaining conversations between athletes and their audiences, with some of the athletes expressing their opinions on different situations that occurred throughout the games.

Business challenges

The sports industry, especially relating to the Olympic Games, was nearly ideal in terms of advertising before the pandemic, but given the latest circumstances, advertisers had to shift their efforts to follow safety protocols. That meant that a number of brands and corporations decided to embrace digital engagement and work with some of the athletes who had a sizable audience to influence digital commerce.

Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian founded 5WPR, a leading PR agency..