What We Learned About Events From the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Posted on August 19, 2021

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As the 2020 Tokyo Olympics come to a close, we are left to process the history we are living through. These games were the largest, worldwide event produced since the pandemic started, forcing all plans and processes to be completely reimagined. For those of us who are event professionals, we are closely watching the way other organizations adapt to the everchanging environment we are now experiencing in order to produce events that are not only safe, but engaging.  

While the pandemic has changed many aspects of the Olympics this year, it has given us insight into how to create memorable and safety-conscious event experiences for participants. 

 Here is what the Event 360 team learned about the events from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

Event production is a team effort. 

Putting together a successful event, no matter how big or small, takes everyone being on the same page to execute. It’s all about teamwork. Aside from the actual sports teams, the Olympic event teams must come together seamlessly to create a multi-week event from the opening ceremony to the moment the flame is extinguished.  

Coordinating hundreds of people with an infinite number of things that can go wrong is a difficult task, however, having a team that works together like a well-oiled machine helps mitigate any issues that may arise. We also witnessed many beautiful examples from the Olympics of community triumphing over competition, showing us that sharing wins with others allows us to rise up together. 

Plan for the worst and hope for the best. 

A worldwide event like the Olympics is only made possible through planning, planning, and more planning. Events are planned well in advance in order to prepare for all circumstances. Even though an international pandemic was not something we expected to have to plan for, having emergency plans in place for everything from injuries on event to natural disasters is one of the biggest takeaways from watching the Olympics.  

Accommodating for changes and having everything run smoothly is a testament to a well-executed plan and efficient communication. While plans may change, having a solid plan A, B, and C in place helps event professionals be flexible and work more efficiently and quickly when changes occur. Being successful means knowing when to stop, reevaluate, and adapt as needed to create a new plan sometimes, just as Simone Biles did. 

Follow through and deliver. 

Following through on expectations is pivotal and allows event participants to know what to expect. Establishing a reputation for reliability will help foster a long-term relationship with participants for future events. This year in particular, your audience will be looking to your event team to communicate clear expectations when it comes to COVID protocols including whether masks, vaccinations, testing, and social distancing are required. 

People make the experience. 

While the shift to virtual and crowd-less events has become the new normal in the past year to prioritize safety measures, the Olympics showed us that there is no replacement for spectators at an event. The energy of a crowd is what gets people excited to watch and motivates athletes to cross the finish line. Watching a soccer match with no crowd noise sometimes felt a bit like watching a practice scrimmage. 

With that in mind, human connection needs to be at the forefront of virtual and hybrid event experiences. One of the ways we have put this into practice is by having virtual participants for our 5x5K FOR GOOD event stay connected to coaches and fellow participants using the Charge Running app. If you can’t have an in-person crowd, think carefully about how you can still make your participants feel like they’re part of a crowd. Fostering a sense of community and spirit will take your virtual event to the next level. 

Great vendors create great events. 

Hiring great vendors makes an event memorable! Olympians raved about the food this year, making a very different experience an enjoyable one because of the catered food from vendors. One of the Olympic caterers, Behind the Scenes Catering, is the company we also use for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. It’s no surprise that Olympians enjoyed the food, as one of the highlights 3-Dayers love most is the mac n’ cheese Behind the Scenes Catering makes. If you want eventgoers to walk away from your event with a great experience, hiring amazing vendors to create that experience is a top priority. 

As the event industry continues to change and adapt, the Olympics has become an example of how to adapt when faced with uncharted territory. At Event 360, we plan to take the lessons we have learned from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to become professional problem-solvers, planners, and teammates as we create memorable experiences for our participants. 

Mina Garagozlo

Mina Garagozlo leads social media and marketing for Event 360 and our client partners. A graduate of the University of Alabama and the University of Maryland, she combines her educational background in business, marketing psychology, and art to execute engaging corporate and event marketing. Mina’s passion for marketing lies in her love for telling a brand’s story.

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