Just a few days before the opening ceremony of the 22nd Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced a number of rule changes regarding the Summer Olympics of 2022. The most notable being the discontinuation of the requirement that all athletes compete in events that represent their country. Currently, there are no official events for mixed martial arts, cycling or triathlon. However, the IOC has promised to find alternative events to fulfill these obligations. Another major change is that the maximum number of athletes that an individual country can enter is now three. The previous quota was seven.
One of the venues for the 2022 Olympics is the newly renovated and expanded Olympic Stadium, which will hold the track and field events. The stadium has a capacity of 80,000 and replaced the ageing and scandal-ridden Turk Telekom Arena. It was originally built for the 1960 Games and completely rebuilt for the 2016 Olympics. The cost of restoration was estimated at US$150 million.
New Photography Requirements
One of the changes that has been made due to the COVID-19 pandemic is that the IOC has mandated that all athletes competing in the Olympics wear a mask and keep a safe distance from one another. As a result, high-profile figure skaters such as Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Eric Radford have had to cancel their respective appearances at the upcoming Games. In keeping with this new regime, the IOC has also mandated that all photographers covering the Games wear masks as well. This is set to dramatically change the face of the photography industry, as traditional photoshoots in groupings of three or more are no longer allowed.
The city of Istanbul, Turkey, where the Olympics will take place, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is on the Bosphorus Strait and spans across two continents. Due to its prominent location on the Silk Road, the city has had permanent residents since the 7th century. It was not until the 20th century that the city became world-famous, due to its imperial structures such as the Hagia Sophia and the Grand Bazaar.
Istanbul is a fascinating city with a rich history, and it will be presenting its visitors with a whole new range of photographic opportunities in 2022. The city is famous for its medieval streets, its classical buildings such as the Dolmabahçe Palace and the Çeşme, and its bustling markets. One of the city’s most prominent historic sites is the Maiden’s Tower, known as the Tekke Turahiye, which has been serving as a hotel for over 100 years. The tower offers some truly majestic views of the city and is a must-see for fans of Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie.
Beyond The Mask
One of the things that made the first Summer Olympics such a memorable event was its original format. While other modern sporting events such as FIFA World Cups and the European Football Championships were taking place, the Olympic Games were still being contested. The combination of watching iconic athletes in athletic competitions and discovering their true identities was a unique marketing opportunity. It enabled sponsors to connect with audiences that usually would not have associated with their product. The success of these brand campaigns led to the creation of the persona of the ‘Olympic Athlete’. While this opportunity has not entirely disappeared, the increased visibility of the athletes means that they are now seen as role models by a younger generation, which may reduce the intrigue that surrounded these iconic figures in the first place. The visibility of the athletes may also make them more approachable, which could open up new markets for sponsorships and enhanced brand loyalty.
The Impact Of The COVID-19 Pandemic
The Olympic Games have always been a celebration of sport and culture. However, there is one aspect of the 2022 Olympics that will be markedly different to previous gatherings. While other sports have adapted to fit in with the pandemic, the Olympics have been affected more than most. The IOC has moved the opening ceremony from its traditional June date and now expects it to happen in late March due to the pandemic.
Like many other sports, the 2020 Olympics were marred by the pandemic. Due to the strict protocols surrounding the event, the athletes had to keep a distance from the audience and media. This meant that they had to limit their activities to competitions, which were either online or behind closed doors. As a result, the 2020 Olympics was a fairly low-key affair, with only a third of the events originally planned taking place. The lack of on-site activities meant that sponsorships were hard to come by and many of the traditional attractions, such as the opening and closing ceremonies, were either on-line or closed to the public.
The impact of the pandemic can be clearly seen in other spheres. The number of spectators at the Olympics in the next three years is expected to decline by 90%. The number of volunteers is also likely to fall, with organisers having to rely on volunteers during the quarantine period.
The Future Of The Olympics
While some aspects of the Olympics will look familiar to fans of previous Games, there are other changes that will have a massive impact. The most significant of these is that, as a result of the pandemic, team sports are expected to become obsolete. The need for an eight- or ten-player squad for each team will no longer be necessary, as the numbers of participants will decline.
Another important consideration is that while the Summer Olympics will continue to happen every four years, the Winter Games will become a biennial event. The last Winter Olympics were held in Beijing in 2022, with organizers expecting prices for ski passes and hotel rooms to increase as a result.
The Impact Of These Changes
What do all of these changes mean for photographers? The simple answer is that we will see more solo shots and more intimate events. In the past, the majority of the photos would have been of individuals competing in team sports. Those teams would have had several people in them, creating the potential for group shots. This in turn led to the creation of the ‘Olympic Athlete’ as we know it.
With the rise of social media, fans now have the opportunity to follow their favorite athletes as they train and compete. This will enable them to see their heroes in a whole new light and create a greater connection to the events that they are a part of.
These changes will have a massive impact on the future of the Olympics and the world of photography. While the 2022 Games will look very different to previous iterations, there will still be a focus on sport and culture as we have come to know it.