No spectators, no problem.
Thanks to a multitude of social media platforms, athletes could still show their fans their experiences at the Tokyo Summer Olympics. From longer-form video blogs on YouTube to fun, short clips on TikTok, it’s safe to say some of the athletes have been enjoying their downtime creating content for their followers.
At the forefront is TikTok, which has taken the internet by storm in the last two years, especially at the onset of the pandemic. One of the bigger TikTok-famous athletes to emerge at this year’s games was Ilona Maher, a 24-year-old U.S. rugby player.
Maher was quite popular even before the Olympics started due to the clips showing her humor and candid mannerisms. The video that received the most traction on the internet was when she and other fellow athletes from the U.S. decided to test out the sturdiness of the cardboard beds each Olympian slept on by performing different activities. As it turns out, the beds were very secure despite being made from cardboard.
Other athletes who showcased a thorough idea of their time at the Olympics included the U.S. women’s gymnastics team. Each member has a TikTok account and posted frequently during their time in Tokyo. Sunisa “Suni” Lee and Jordan Chiles used their downtime to upload short clips of themselves dancing.
Germany’s Alica Schmidt, who came to the Olympics for track, shared her experience through TikTok by giving viewers an idea of their living spaces, the gym, the food hall at the Olympic Village, which is open 24 hours, and the freebies they’ve been given so far.
Kelsey Robinson, a volleyball player for the U.S., posted a TikTok of a “training day at the Olympics,” which showed her doing her daily COVID-19 test before heading to the food hall for breakfast. It also showed clips of them exploring the Olympic Village and training at the High Performance Center, which serves as a private training center specifically for U.S. athletes.
According to Robinson, the Village had self-driving shuttles, free manicures and pedicures, vending machines that could give out free drinks after you scan a specific ID and a massage relaxation center.
Robinson also shared what it was like to walk in the Opening Ceremony, even giving viewers a glimpse of other athletes singing happy birthday to U.S. basketball player Kevin Durant — though perplexingly his birthday is not until Sept. 29.
Meanwhile, athletes such as MyKayla Skinner, Tom Daley and Matisse Thybulle shared their experiences through vlogs on YouTube. The most active of the three was Daley, a diver from the U.K. who won the gold in men’s synchronized 10-meter platform with diving partner Matty Lee.
Daley, who already posts frequently as a regular vlogger, racked up millions of views during his time in Tokyo, uploading videos such as a tour of their apartment (which very much resembles a college dormitory), the Olympic Village, a question-and-answer session with Lee and one commemorating his gold medal win.
He also touched on the COVID-19 regulations, such as daily testing and the contact tracing on each athlete’s phone. “They tell us that no news is good news because you only find out your results if you’re positive,” Daley said in one of his videos. “We have contract tracing on our phones, so that if we come into contact near someone in the dining hall, for example, with COVID-19, then we get a notification and we have to isolate.”
Skinner, a gymnast from the U.S., was already an active YouTube vlogger documenting her daily life before the Olympics. Her first video at the Games, called “Come to the Olympics With Me,” accrued more than 1.4 millions views and counting since its post date. The 30-minute vlog detailed everything from her packing process to the flight to Tokyo and exploring the Village.
Skinner also mentioned that the U.S. gymnastics team was not staying in the Village, unlike most of the athletes, but in hotels. She explained that the team didn’t want the gymnasts to be around the other athletes due to COVID-19.
“We’re staying in a hotel, we aren’t in the Olympic Village because they don’t want us around the other athletes just because they don’t want us to catch COVID-19,” she said in her video, disclosing her slight disappointment since she didn’t get to stay in the Olympic Village in the last Olympics in Rio de Janeiro either.
Skinner rounded out her video by talking to the camera about her thoughts and feelings on her last Olympics, as she announced she would be retiring from professional gymnastics after this Summer Games.
Thybulle became a vlogging superstar during the NBA bubble last year, where he documented his experience weekly as he played for the Philadelphia 76ers in Orlando. Thybulle is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia, but opted to play for the latter in the Olympics.
With his fans requesting he document his time at his first Summer Games, Thybulle has been uploading weekly vlogs, but not as frequently as someone like Daley, for instance. So far, Thybulle has uploaded three episodes in his “Road to Tokyo” series, sharing his experience training with the Boomers in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. He has not yet uploaded any content of him being in Tokyo, but fans expect at least a few more from the basketball player in the coming weeks, since the Australian team lost to the Americans in the basketball semifinal.
As the Olympics rounds out another Games, fans have joked that TikTok was the go-to channel for following along. Some athletes may have a future as full-fledged bloggers after their time in Tokyo.
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