IOC President Thomas Bach addresses record breaking media coverage, downplays poor TV ratings of Beijing Games


International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach attends a news conference during the Beijing Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, February 18, 2022. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

As the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games are drawing to a close, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach addressed the media on a variety of topics on Friday.

He emphasized the Olympic spirt is alive and well amongst the athletes, and his admiration for the athletes who have been competing in less than ideal conditions, isolations, constant testing and competing in sterile stadium environments which lack the ambiance of live spectators.

In attending the women’s big sky snowboard competition, Bach mentioned he was indeed touched by the show of sportsmanship when fellow snowboarders came to the aid of a Japanese boarder who had fallen.

2022 Beijing Olympics - Freestyle Skiing - Women's Freeski - Halfpipe - Qualification - Run 2 - Genting Snow Park, Zhangjiakou, China - February 17, 2022. Gu Ailing Eileen of China speaks to media after her run.  REUTERS/Mike Blake
2022 Beijing Olympics – Freestyle Skiing – Women’s Freeski – Halfpipe – Qualification – Run 2 – Genting Snow Park, Zhangjiakou, China – February 17, 2022. Gu Ailing Eileen of China speaks to media after her run. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Media coverage of these games, in particular the television ratings, have come under debate. The number of viewers for NBC in the US is dipping to historic lows, a trend that started with the opening ceremony and has continued throughout the Games. However, Bach said it cannot be denied that taken as a whole, TV broadcasts, social media and streaming options have grown the viewership of the Games.

“As far as broadcasting is concerned, we still need the final figures which will come in a few months. But the clear indication is that the audiences on broadcasting and streaming are very strong,” said Bach.

The IOC Olympics social media accounts alone have surpassed 2.7 billion engagements for Beijing 2022. Several hashtags featuring athletes have generated more than 1 billion impressions each on Weibo.

2022 Beijing Olympics - Freestyle Skiing - Men's Moguls - Qualification 2 - Genting Snow Park, Zhangjiakou, China - February 5, 2022. Members of the media observe social distancing as they conduct an interview with Laurent Dumais of Canada.  REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
2022 Beijing Olympics – Freestyle Skiing – Men’s Moguls – Qualification 2 – Genting Snow Park, Zhangjiakou, China – February 5, 2022. Members of the media observe social distancing as they conduct an interview with Laurent Dumais of Canada. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

“We are all used to the numbers in China being higher than in other parts of the world, but these Games have achieved unprecedented results. China Media Group’s broadcast coverage of the Olympics Winter Games has reached over 600 million people through TV alone,” Bach added.

The IOC president also noted the trend towards digital engagement and online consumption of broadcast coverage continues to accelerate at recording breaking levels.

Bach concluded “the Games have kept their traditional fans and at the same time have won over millions of new fans, in particular amongst the young generation and the digital natives.”




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