In an Olympics without crowds, athletes are becoming stars online as they use TikTok to provide a glimpse of life inside the Athletes’ Village and, for the winners, what it’s like to win a gold medal.
Although copyright rules limit what athletes can post to TikTok – both of their own performances and within Games venues – videos about the Olympics are thriving on the platform.
There have been 5.9bn views of videos under the #Olympics tag and 4.2bn under the #OlympicSpirit topic.
Aside from the official Olympics account – which has 3.4 million followers and has had some officially licensed footage go viral – the athletes themselves are building strong followings through sometimes daily updates from their Games experience.
Diver Sam Fricker is one of the best-known athletes on the platform and the Australian athlete with the largest following. He has gained more than 1.1 million followers through videos on day-to-day life during the Olympics including, yes, the cardboard beds, but also what the food is like, the clothing, and more.
“Quick question, are you looking for a wife?” Maher whispers in one video with more than 4m views.
Filipino skateboarder Margie Didal’s dance celebration video with 13-year-old Brazilian skateboarder Rayssa Leal after winning the silver gained millions of views. Gold medal-winning US gymnast Sunisa Lee’s dance celebrating her win went viral.
While UK diver Tom Daley went viral on Instagram for knitting a pouch for his gold medal, the athlete did not share that gem on TikTok, despite having 4.3 million followers on the platform. Another user, however, posted a video on TikTok that captured Daley knitting in the stands which garnered 1.7m views.