Tokyo 2020 & the impact on 5G marketing

5G Olympics
Chloe Bunce

Even the best planned marketing activity can still get derailed if you’re unlucky. And Tokyo 2020 was particularly unlucky as a marketing opportunity to showcase 5G. Read on to discover some of the 5G technologies which will be used at the Tokyo Olympics, and how Covid-19 has impacted on the event’s ability to create demand for 5G in the marketplace.

The Tokyo Olympics as a global 5G marketing event

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games were set to be a huge opportunity to showcase the wonders of 5G as the new technology launched onto the market, offering new ways to experience the games. However, the impact of Covid-19 didn’t just mean the games were postponed. The slower 5G rollout as a result of the pandemic means that the exciting technology due to be implemented is likely to have much less of an impact than intended. Combine that with the vastly reduced visitor numbers to Tokyo, plus that fact that 5G is old news now, and it’s all fallen a bit flat.

With this lack of a global 5G marketing event (which, let’s face it, is what the Olympics would have been) the industry hype alone wasn’t enough to tempt consumers. By the end of 2020, 5G accounted for just 5% of mobile subscriptions worldwide , as many consumers failed to see the value for money and real-life benefits.

5G security – a silver (medal) lining?

It’s not all bad news though. The plus side of this slower 5G rollout and uptake is that there’s been more time to increase 5G security.

While the build-up to the Olympics saw huge investment in 5G implementation and technologies to show off its capabilities, less time and investment was available for cybersecurity.

The reduced number of people signing up for 5G mobile contracts led to a much lower than expected number of cyberattacks on 5G devices and data streams, as hackers slowed down their efforts in order to wait until more 5G device users – and their precious personal and business data – existed.

With the anticipated rush towards 5G not happening, this in turn gave cybersecurity experts more time to identify weaknesses and develop security solutions, creating much safer devices and infrastructure.

The show must go on… in Ultra HD

The plan for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to generate significant consumer demand for 5G failed. Nevertheless, the 5G experiences due to be on offer in Tokyo will undoubtedly be exciting, if underutilised.

Sailing, swimming and golf spectators will benefit from a collaboration between the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, Intel, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT), and NTT Docomo, complete with augmented reality (AR) and ultra HD.

Golf is notoriously challenging as a spectator sport, so visitors to the golf fanzone are likely to benefit significantly from the 5G technology on offer. 5G devices will be available to rent, providing live video streams for each individual golfer, along with information feeds and highlight clips.

Spectators at the sailing venue are set to watch the action on a 50m wide, floating screen, with 12K video signal delivered via 5G, providing fans with close-up views of the event.

Meanwhile, the aquatics centre will be providing spectators with AR devices to enhance the live action. 5G will deliver AR data to the devices, allowing wearers to view live leaderboards and lane information, to help them keep track during the races.

5G technologies at Tokyo 2020

5G Olympics


5G Olympics


5G Olympics


5G Olympics


5G Olympics


5G Olympics


5G Olympics


Other 5G technologies to look out for

Intel will be showcasing a range of additional technologies powered by 5G, to improve Olympic experiences.

Virtual reality coverage is set to be provided for sports such as gymnastics, boxing, volleyball and athletics, and made available via a partnership with the Olympic Broadcasting Services.

Similarly, Intel will be using Alibaba’s cloud infrastructure for 3D Athlete Tracking (3DAT). Planned for selected track and field events, the 3DAT will use AI to extract 3D motion from the standard camera feeds to better show athletes’ positions and speeds, overlayed with additional data and insights.

Digital Twins of the venues are also planned, creating virtual arenas in which athletes, broadcasters and venue managers will be able to understand the space and simulate scenarios in advance.

In addition, the 5G network is set to be used to power Toyota’s e-Palette electric autonomous vehicles to ferry the athletes between venues, as well as Intel’s NeoFace facial recognition security technology.

What can we learn?

When it comes to the Tokyo Olympics coming hot on the heels of 2019’s 5G technology hype, and pushing consumers towards 5G in their droves, that ship has sailed. However, the delayed Tokyo 2020 games still provide the opportunity to test these technologies on a large scale, learn and improve on them. Ultimately, technology companies can use the experience to find new ways to use 5G to improve event planning, broadcasting and spectating experiences.

The success of 5G technologies at the Tokyo Olympics has the potential to set the standard and change the way future events are run. Will we see a huge a surge in demand for 5G devices as an immediate result? Perhaps not. But by normalising these new technologies, the desire and need for 5G may trickle down more organically, creating a longer term pipeline rather than a gimmick-based spike in demand. This is certainly a change in strategy, but is not necessarily a bad thing.

If you need to rethink your current B2B tech marketing strategy in response to Covid-19, a changing marketplace or other factors, Motion Marketing can help identify new opportunities and put a plan in place.

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