There is one contest in the Olympic Games where everyone is a winner – sports reporting. The variety of sports events and sports personalities has very broad appeal and provides an excellent opportunity for sports reporters to step up from “the daily grind.” Unique story angles and local perspectives on this global event have enlivened the sports pages around the world.
The media spotlight provided an exceptional opportunity for sports stars from Russia to combine their local expertise with their global sports media talent. Nastasia Liukin, a Russian born gold medalist in gymnastics who represented the US in Beijing in 2008 broadcast daily features for NBC. The Liukin segments were part of the half-hour Olympic Zone program that aired before the evening Prime Time broadcasts. Tennis star Maria Sharapova won accolades for her role as a sports ambassador at the Sochi events, also appearing on NBC. Sharapova originally learned to play tennis as a child growing up in Sochi and now lives in Florida.
Readers in Brazil focused on the spectacle of the events at Sochi. The South American country in the tropics had a delegation of just thirteen athletes at the Winter Olympic Games, but is getting ready to host the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janerio. The novelty of participation in Women’s Bobsled and the escape from the tropical summer heat provided by views of figure skating and speed skating reinforced the image of Sochi as “cool” among Brazilian television viewers. But the mega events of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games were eclipsed by preparation for the annual Carneval in Rio celebratons locally; there was not a single Facebook share for the Winter Olympics cover story in “O Globo” the leading local daily newspaper and operator of the largest private television news station.
Japan will be hosting the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. Today’s Tokyo Marathon dominated the local sports headlines. The Sochi Winter Olympics handled second billing with grace and let the Japanese media focus on the positive aspects of the games engaging the global audience and concluding successfully.
Reports from the media in Barcelona help put the Olympics in perspective, because the Autonomous University of Barcelona will be presenting the first online course about “The Olympics and the Media” this summer. The local audience got a personal view of the Olympic spirit thanks to a special online video conference Q+A session with the members of the Australian Olympic Team during the Winter Games. That was a concrete example of the focus of local Olympic studies experts on the role the media has played in making the Olympics a global event without equal.