Today: Last Update:

  • Olympic Channel Works Around Pandemic


    (ATR) The Olympic Channel remains true to its mission to highlight Olympic athletes from around the world despite the coronavirus pandemic.

    The pandemic has forced staff to work from home since March. (Olympic Channel)
    It’s been almost three months since the Madrid-based broadcaster's staff began working from home due to COVID-19.

    “We started remote working around the 11th or 12th of March and I must say our teams have adapted incredibly well,” Olympic Channel general manager Mark Parkman tells Around the Rings.

    “Within two or three days of the remote working mandate, everything was completely remote in terms of our technical operations. I can’t give enough credit to our tech ops and IT teams who have been able to engineer this so that we have been able to maintain the complete operation of our web apps and those things we give to our rights-holding broadcasters. It’s been almost flawless.”

    The Olympic Channel has also had to deal with the loss of live sporting events and the postponement of Tokyo 2020. The Tokyo Games are going to be the first Summer Games for the Channel, which was launched immediately after Rio 2016.

    Mark Parkman in the Olympic Channel office in PyeongChang (ATR)
    Plans that were a year or more in the making had to be put aside and alternate content had to be found.

    “Knowing that we weren’t going to have a steady stream of live events coming in, we instituted two channels that we’re offering,” Parkman said. “One is the classic ceremonies channel where we’re replaying previous opening and closing ceremonies and we instituted a classic finals channel, where we feature some of the greater matches and events of previous Games.

    Parkman says that since the pandemic has taken hold “we’ve been highlighting all the athletes who stayed strong, we’ve been focusing on them in social media and how they are working out and staying fit, staying active.”

    Weekly replays of the 1992 USA men’s basketball Dream Team’s tournament games on its way to gold in Barcelona began in April and wraps up this week with the gold medal game against Croatia.

    Parkman reveals that new technology allowed two commentators, one in Madrid and one in the United States, to offer a new “live” perspective to games that were played 28 years ago.

    The response has been great, says Parkman, who adds that streaming the games on Twitter has garnered millions of views. He admits that the Michael Jordan documentary on ESPN, which aired in recent weeks, helped.

    “We did it primarily to take advantage of the Last Dance documentary and showcase one of Jordan’s greatest accomplishments of the Dream Team and what they did in Barcelona.”

    Two more documentaries in the Five Rings Films collection will be coming out this summer. One will feature the life of Greco-Roman wrestler Rulon Gardner, both before and after he became famous by beating three-time reigning Olympic champion Aleksandr Karelin at Sydney 2000. The trailer for the film can be seen here.

    The other one, entitled The Iron Hammer, is the story of Lang Ping, the Chinese volleyball player and coach.

    Parkman says the Olympic Channel, which is owned by the IOC, has been able to maintain its staffing level through the pandemic and he doesn’t believe there will be any changes moving forward.

    While some companies will likely allow more employees to work from home after the pandemic eases, Parkman doesn’t think that will happen at the Olympic Channel.

    “I think there’s that connection of being together in a creative environment, in a collaborative environment, that everybody is very eager to get back to,” he says.

    Written by Gerard Farek

    For general comments or questions, click here.

    Your best source of news about the Olympics is, for subscribers only.