With eight days to go to the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games and to bring people around the world closer than ever to the magic of Tokyo 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and Worldwide Olympic Partner Airbnb have unveiled an exclusive programme of over 200 Olympian and Paralympian Online Experiences, on Airbnb. From 15 July, bookings open so that fans can meet Tokyo 2020 Olympians and Paralympians, non-competing athletes and Tokyo 2020 insiders live from Japan. Hosts span over 50 sports and 30 countries, including refugee athletes.
Whilst fans won’t be able to attend the Olympic Games in person, the launch of these one-of-a-kind experiences is a way for people around the world to celebrate and support the athletes, while feeling as close to the action as possible. From connecting with competing athletes to reliving iconic moments or discovering new sports, guests will be able to personally meet with a variety of athletes before and after they compete at Tokyo 2020 – these will include John John Florence, Pita Taufatofua, Sky Brown, Jonny Brownlee, Hannah Mills, Alice Dearing, Ibrahim Al Hussein, Alex Honnold, Hunter Woodhall and Tara Davies.
Guests will also be able to relive a personal Olympic or Paralympic story directly with living legends such as Scottie Pippen, Larry Bird, Brandi Chastain, Benoit Huot and Michael Johnson, connect with Olympic medallists such as Cathy Ferguson, who participated at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964, and learn more about the new Olympic sports such as sport climbing and surfing. People will also have the opportunity to explore Olympic culture with Olympian and photographer Ciara Michel, along with a co-host live from Tokyo, or with decathlete and artist Slaven Dizdarevic, live from The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“In light of the current circumstances, we wanted to create a unique alternative to bring together athletes and fans while keeping the same sense of discovery and exclusivity,” said Kirsty Coventry, IOC Athletes’ Commission Chair. “The Olympian and Paralympian Experiences platform is a fantastic opportunity for athletes to build a personal relationship with their fanbase and feel their support, while the platform will also bring the incredible Olympic spirit to people across the globe. As part of our effort to empower athletes at all stages of their career, the positive response to the past year’s activities has indeed confirmed that offering athletes the possibility to host such experiences presents them with new meaningful opportunities.”
While the Tokyo Together curated programme will provide exclusive experiences available only during the Olympic and Paralympic Games period, many hosts will continue to offer their activities after the Closing Ceremony, as part of the Olympian and Paralympian Experiences on Airbnb. Through their bookings, fans will proudly be supporting their heroes, as proceeds will provide valuable income to athlete hosts, during and beyond the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
“With spectatorship looking different this year, audiences are searching for new ways to support Olympic and Paralympic athletes during Tokyo 2020,” said Catherine Powell, Airbnb Global Head of Hosting. “Airbnb is all about creating unique experiences that connect people, and Olympian and Paralympian Online Experiences allow fans to feel closer to their heroes than ever before. These interactive activities will provide an intimate window into the Games, all made possible by the 200+ athletes joining our hosting community this summer.”
Among the 30+ international teams represented through Olympian and Paralympian Online Experiences are 10 Refugee Team and refugee scholarship holder hosts, including Tegla Loroupe and swimmer Yusra Mardini. By hosting Online Experiences on Airbnb, athletes are given the chance to earn money by sharing their skills and passion for sport with the world, and a number of the refugee athletes are leveraging the opportunity by hosting interactive activities, from a full-body workout with a taekwondo champion to self-defense and workout classes
IPC President Andrew Parsons said: “When the Games in Tokyo were postponed last year, Airbnb excelled themselves. The creation of the Olympic and Paralympic Online Experiences platform not only allowed many Para athletes to share their passions with people all over the world, but also provided them with a valuable income stream in the absence of competition. Now, the most important Paralympic Games in history are upon us, and I’m thrilled to see so many Para athletes on the Airbnb Experiences platform, not least the amazing athletes of our Refugee Paralympic Team. I would encourage people to grab this rare opportunity to view the Games up close and personal with the stars of the show.”
Highlights of the programme include:
Each of these NBA legends have two major things in common. The first is that they all earned a gold medal while competing on the US men’s Olympic basketball team at the Olympic Games Barcelona 1992. The second is that all three are now hosts on Airbnb. Scottie invites guests to join him the day before the men’s gold-medal game to get a glimpse behind the scenes in Tokyo*. Larry, meanwhile, will sit down with guests for a chat on all things Olympic, basketball and culture. And with Patrick, guests will take a trip down memory lane to learn what it was like competing on the 1992 US men’s Olympic basketball team.
Yusra Mardini, a Syria-born Olympic swimmer and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, will share an open dialogue with guests about her fascinating journey to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 as part of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team. In this experience, she will share lessons that span far and wide: lessons on resilience, the power of understanding and embracing one’s own identity, what it means to be a young female refugee athlete and ultimately, the impact that she and her team-mates can have on global perceptions of refugees.
Just after Sky returns from Tokyo 2020, she will host two Online Experiences – perfect for families – with her dad. She will speak about working towards and achieving her dreams at an early age, what it was like to go to Tokyo and represent Team GB, and what the sport of skateboarding and other sports in her life mean to her, as well as taking questions from her guests.
Bethany Hamilton, who helped pave the way for women’s pro surfing, takes guests into the world of one of the new Olympic sports on the programme in Tokyo. Her story of perseverance in becoming one of the world’s leading surfers, despite the odds, is of great inspiration for all generations.
Two-time world surfing champion John John Florence is inviting guests to join a conversation with him and his good friend Pat O’Connell before he travels to compete in the Tokyo Games. From how he has been training to how it feels to be representing surfing and Team USA, guests will get to know this rising star through his stories, life lessons and answers to their questions on mind, body and surf.
The iconic Brandi Chastain of the 1996 women’s US football team will share her journey of winning in her home country with a legendary team. Guests will also see how the spirit of the Olympic Games goes beyond patriotism and into the motto of the Games: Citius Altius Fortius (Faster Higher Stronger) and what can happen for and to the world as it experiences each kick-off.
Hosted by Pita Taufatofua, an Olympian in summer and winter sports, flagbearer and UNICEF Ambassador heading to his third Games, this experience promises plenty of surprises as guests are given access to people, places and stories that few have ever seen.
In this segment, hosted by Rika Saito (Japanese Olympian weightlifter), guests will be transported to the world of Tokyo 2020, directly at the Olympic cauldron. Through this experience, Rika will share her journey to the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 and teach guests all about the Games through some live quizzes.
Discover the Olympic Agora in Tokyo
Three different experiences, hosted by two Olympians (Ciara Michel and Kelly MacArthur) and one Paralympian (Gregory Burns), joined by a co-host from Tokyo representing the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage, will offer a private exploration of Olympic culture at the Olympic Agora, and provide an in-depth view of the athletes’ artworks and the digital cultural programme at Tokyo 2020 in general.
Guests can relive iconic Olympic moments through exclusive online access to The Olympic Museum’s invaluable collections, brought to the audience by decathlete and artist Slaven Dizdarevic.
In addition to the Olympian and Paralympian Online Experiences, and as a way to celebrate Tokyo 2020, local hosts in Japan will offer guests a way to travel and explore the cultures and traditions of the country from their living rooms. Local hosts will lead a package of unique online activities like learning to draw Japanese manga , a mindfulness tea ceremony and a cute cartoon bento making class. Other ways to get virtually transported to Japan will include forest bathing in Kyoto, samurai training and a complete guide to geisha culture.
People from around the world unable to travel to the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo will still get to experience gold-medal hospitality from local Games volunteers in Tokyo firsthand, thanks to these Online Experiences on Airbnb. From hidden spots in Saitama to an introduction to the Fukushima Azuma Stadium paired with a calligraphy class, guests will get a unique experience of the cities across Japan that are hosting the Games this year.
For more information on the Olympian and Paralympian Online Experiences or to view the full line-up, visit airbnb.com/olympics. Additionally, Olympians and Paralympians who are interested in sharing their passions with guests to earn supplemental income can learn more and sign up to become a host here.
*In-venue Online Experiences will be open to guests booking from the United States only
The International Olympic Committee is a not-for-profit, civil, non-governmental, international organisation made up of volunteers which is committed to building a better world through sport. It redistributes more than 90 per cent of its income to the wider sporting movement, which means that every day the equivalent of USD 3.4 million goes to help athletes and sports organisations at all levels around the world.