2020 Tokyo Olympics: IOC Bans Athletes, Fans From Posting Video on Social Media During Games

by Amy Myers

While fans and athletes can post photos of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the IOC enforced strict rules against posting videos of the Games on social media. It’s a fine line to walk, but it’s one that keeps the athletes and fans from unintentionally committing copyright infringement.

Recently, after competing in Wednesday’s games, 2020 Tokyo Olympics Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah was temporarily blocked from Instagram. Thompson-Herah posted videos from the 100- and 200-meter sprints that she won to over 300,000 followers. The IOC took the opportunity to reiterate the importance of following seemingly inconsequential rules.

“We encourage people, we encourage everybody, to share still pictures of performances, but the video obviously belongs to the rights-holding broadcasters,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams stated.

Among those rights-holding broadcasters (RHBs) for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is U.S. network NBCUniversal and other national and international networks broadcasting the Games.

The IOC continued, “This includes distribution on social media, where athletes are invited to share the content provided by the RHBs on their accounts but cannot post competition content natively. Should that occur, the removal of such content from social media platforms happens automatically.”

Thankfully, Thompson-Herah didn’t seem to mind that she couldn’t access her Instagram for two days during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“I was blocked on Instagram for posting the races of the Olympic because I did not own the right to do so,” Thompson-Herah wrote on Twitter. “So see y’all in 2 days.”

And who could blame her nonchalant answer? With two gold medals around her neck, social media was the least of her concerns.

Funds from 2020 Tokyo Olympics RHBs Go to the Athletes

As all 2020 Tokyo Olympics athletes know, to win the game, you have to play by the rules. In this case, the game is paying the athletes and funding the games. To do that, everyone involved has to respect the rights of the broadcasters.

According to Adams, 90 percent of the Games’ income comes from broadcasting rights. From the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics alone, the IOC will receive a total of $4 billion. The majority of this amount goes back to the athletes and the Games themselves. NBC is one of the largest contributors in the group. Now through 2032, the network will have broadcasting rights to the Games. NBC paid a total of $7.65 billion for these rights.

While social media videos might seem like small fish for big networks like NBC, they can seriously hurt ratings during the Games. After all, who wants to watch the whole show if athletes are posting the best parts? That’s why, in order to keep the funds flowing, the IOC works hard to ensure that there’s no overlap between what athletes and fans post and what the networks own.

“That money comes to the IOC,” Adams said. “We have to protect their rights and therefore the income which we can redistribute to athletes and sports.”