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Rio Olympics left lessons for Tokyo to learn ahead of 2020 Games

As the Rio Olympics drew to a close on Aug. 21, the 17-day quadrennial event left a number of issues for Japan to look into ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Games.

When International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach was grilled over a string of trouble that plagued the Rio Games during a press conference on Aug. 20, such as the failure to fill vacant seats at many venues and the arrest of an IOC executive for scalping tickets to events, Bach countered by stressing how well the event fared in terms of online viewing.

As of Aug. 19, the viewing time of NBC's live streaming of the Rio Games had totaled 2.25 billion minutes, up by more than 750 million minutes from the total viewing time of all past Olympic Games streamed live. President Bach boasted that the Rio Games was the most numerously clicked and shared Olympics ever.

The social media sites operated by the IOC also attracted over 4 billion hits during the Rio Games, more than fivefold from the 2012 London Games -- which was billed as the first social media Olympics. The IOC promoted the use of Twitter and Facebook in order to lure younger generations who are said to be less interested in the Olympics than their older counterparts, by offering viewing opportunities not only on TV but also via PCs and smartphones. With the Rio Games having gone even more social, President Bach was apparently satisfied with people viewing the Olympic events through new platforms.

NBC's strong viewing time is proof of the solid earnings from broadcasting rights fees, the major revenue source for the IOC. Prior to the opening of the Rio Games, the IOC announced that its revenue from broadcasting rights in the run-up to the Games between 2013 and 2016 reached $4.1 billion, up 7.1 percent from corresponding revenue during the 2009-2012 period ahead of the London Games. NBC, therefore, is the most important client for the IOC. At Rio, the events that are popular in the United States were set for prime time TV in the U.S., such as swimming and track and field events. The IOC clearly attached the most weight to an Olympics being broadcast live, while shutting its eyes against operational trouble that wasn't aired live.

In the 2020 Tokyo Games, the IOC may request that events be held during hours including high noon, the hottest time of the day, in order to be in time for U.S. prime time.

"We would like to negotiate over broadcasting time so that event dates can be set in a fair manner, with the top priority put on athletes," said Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda.

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