Tokyo Olympics: Are Kids Interested?

With the Tokyo Olympics upon us, uncertainties around the Covid pandemic have impacted the build-up towards the games. How do we get kids excited about the games?

With the Tokyo Olympics upon us, uncertainties around the Covid pandemic have impacted the build up towards the games. Normally, we’d see a raft of sponsors launching Olympic campaigns to capture the anticipation and excitement of participating athletes. Not this time. The media and PR buzz that preceded the Rio Olympics is largely absent and, recently, a surge in new Covid-19 cases has prompted the Japanese Olympic Committee to ban all live spectators.

We asked over 9,000 kids whether they’ll be watching the Olympics this year, and it was an even 50% split between yes and no. Among those who said no, 38% said their family don’t watch it, 30% said they think the Olympics are boring, and 25% said they’re not even sure when the games kick-off.

“Sometimes I like to watch sports but usually it is Netflix.”
Girl, 14

Nevertheless, speaking to kids during our Youth Trend Spotting calls, we know that they missed team sports during lockdown: replacing their swimming lessons and football matches with a family stroll around the park or walking with the dog. So, how do we get them excited about the Olympics?

“I used to do swimming lessons, so now I just do it in the bath.”
Boy, 5

When kids think of the Summer Olympics, they naturally think of the big sports that dominate television coverage of the Games — such as swimming, track and field, and gymnastics. Indeed, kids are more likely to want to watch a sport they’re already interested in. Among the kids who said they’ll be watching the games, 43% said their favourite was swimming, followed by 26% who said football; sports kids themselves participate in most. 

“I like the athletics and I also do trampolining as a hobby.”
Girl, 11

So, do we get kids excited about the Olympics by making them more relatable and appealing? Back in 2016, the International Olympic Committee added six new sports to Tokyo 2020 in a bid to appeal to kids: karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing, baseball and softball.* However, the Olympics is also an opportunity to get kids interested in something new. 

“I like watching funny sports like boxing.’”
Boy, 7

The recent Euro 2020 hype after England progressed to the quarter-finals somewhat exploded. Kids were among many of us who grew a newfound appreciation for football. As the final edged nearer, #EURO2020 received 12.3B views on TikTok and #ITSCOMINGHOME received 753.9M. The Olympics have the same potential to inspire kids worldwide. 

But, why should we get kids interested in the Olympics anyway? When we ask young children who their role models are, many are quick to name an athlete. For instance, a popular famous name in our YTS calls is Manchester United and England player Marcus Rashford after he campaigned for free school meals. Moreover, athletes from different backgrounds encourage kids to get involved and prove they can achieve their dreams no matter who they are. Watching Team GB on TV, kids can see someone from their town being successful. That being so, innovative digital campaigns using athletes are likely to engage kids.

The Olympics is about making sports fun. Brands that are bold and brave in their messaging, with humorous and appealing creatives, are likely to spark the most interest from kids. Ultimately, after a year of being stuck inside, the Olympics remind us all of our shared humanity and that we’re part of something bigger.

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