TikTok and the Olympics
How the popular app increased interest in the international games.
By Madison Sciba
Back in Summer 2021, TikTok users got to experience something rarely seen before, an inside look at what it is like to be an Olympic athlete. By documenting everything from life in the Olympic village to practicing and competing, Olympians have given average people the chance to experience the Olympics.
For the Summer Games in Tokyo, athletes from all over the globe developed dedicated followings on the app just for showing their Olympic routines. By doing this, they also increased interest in sports that were not typically popular amongst fans. U.S. Rugby Sevens player Ilona Maher drew increased interest in Rugby with her viral TikToks about Olympic daily life. Australian diver Sam Fricker found similar online popularity with insight into the life and training needed to become an Olympic diver.
Throughout these Winter Olympics in Beijing, 3-time gold medalist Shaun White (US) and newcomer Maddie Mastro (US) have used their platforms to show TikTokers what gear they got, how they trade pins (an Olympic tradition), their training, and even an incredible view of the opening ceremonies. Maddie Rooney, 2018 gold medalist, has made just fun videos with her teammates on the US women’s ice hockey team in which she is the goalie. Anna Hoffman (US), a 21-year-old ski jumper, shared her entire journey to the Olympics. From videos of her as a toddler on her first set of skis to videos of the jump that got her a spot on the Olympic team.
Paralympians were also able to use TikTok to bring awareness to their games and how their sports have been modified and/or how they are different from the traditional games. Jack Wallace of the US Men’s Sled Hockey team documented how sled hockey is played and even how his sleds were made.
In a time when Olympic viewership is in decline, TikTok may offer hope for the games and is putting lesser supported events into the spotlight.
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Ryan Ford '23,