This Olympics has been an amazing show of unity, diversity and human achievement, but until there’s an average person competing in each event alongside the pros (for context and comedic value) the games will never truly fulfil its entertainment potential.

Chosen at random, you’d receive a letter from your government, letting you know you’d been chosen for, say, the pole vault, and “Have a year to prepare – good luck”.

Alas, while middle-aged parents may not yet be wobbling down the plank or plodding along behind Bolt & Co, the organisers have been innovating in other ways.

The most digitally innovative games in history, the opening ceremony’s mesmerising 1,824 drone light show was just a taster of the tech to come.

In fact, just about the only thing that’s not digitally-enhanced are the (rumoured) anti-sex beds in the athlete’s village. The beds are made of cardboard and designed “To stop unnecessary hanky panky” (not an official quote).

The rumours have of course been denied by officials: the beds are actually made of cardboard for recycling purposes and aren’t designed to break on impact (although that’s very boring and we much prefer the first storyline).

 

Olympics Drone Show 2022
1,824 synchronised drones danced through Tokyo’s skies at the opening ceremony.

 

With all us spectators forced to watch from the comfort of our homes this year, brands have stepped up to the mark to bring the games closer to us – many through the power of AR.

Practicing your K-Pop, exploring Brazilian street art, immersing yourself in Swedish Midsommar and learning the Nigerian Shaku Shaku has all been made possible by Samsung’s World Lens, allowing fans to experience other cultures through a variety of AR filters.

The Tokyo Olympics have also launched a couple of Snapchat fan experiences: Train like an Olympian uses body-tracking and AR to give you the opportunity to get sweaty with some Olympian-inspired workouts.

And if that sounds too much like hard work, the Do What I Do lens – featuring official mascot Miraitowa – encourages users to copy the mascot’s poses.

Always dreamt of seeing an olympic athlete perform in your kitchen, living room or bathroom? Google have created mini-AR versions of gymnasts, tennis players and soccer stars, while The Washington Post have gone for climbers, surfers and skateboarders.

 

The Official Olympics Snapchat experience invites you to train like an athlete from the comfort of your home.

 

A host of other brands have gone one better, pulling out all the stops to take us to Tokyo via real people.

Microsoft Teams proved they’re more than just a meetings platform, giving people that had plans to go to the games the chance to receive a virtual tour from Tokyo residents.

The gold medal however has to go to Airbnb. The world’s favourite lodging platform launched Tokyo Together, an initiative offering you a once in a lifetime chance to chat with Olympians and Paralympians via video call.

Airbnb have been putting fans in touch with the likes of Michael Johnson for tips on success, refugee Paralympian Alia Issa on the importance of chasing your dreams and Jonny Brownlee for a post-triathlon debrief.

Airbnb offered the chance to have a video call with the amazing Alia Issa – the first ever female Paralympian on Team Refugee.

 

Intel and Alibaba have partnered to develop a first-of-its-kind 3D Athlete Tracking technology, providing near real-time insights on the sprint events, relay, decathlon and heptathlon.

The tech gives viewers the chance to see the exact moment at which athletes reach peak speeds and analyse the different phases of the races in extra detail through a full set of race statistics.

Not quite close enough to the action for you? You can witness the nerves of steel of the archers with (very) up close and personal on-screen graphics that show how the athletes’ heartbeats change, highlighting their adrenaline spikes as they draw their bows back and release.

World Archery incorporated biometric data into the television broadcast with cameras picking up the competitors’ heart rates (BPM).

 

Despite the fact we’ve all had to watch from afar, this has arguably been the games we’ve been able to follow closest thanks to innovations in tech.

From drones and AR to athlete tracking and – our personal favourite – calls with the athletes themselves, brands have seriously excelled in bringing the action home.

Let’s just hope someone from the 2024 Paris Olympics organising committee realises that the idea of including Team Average Joe would be a stroke of genius… we can dream.

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