In what some argue is a step backwards, spectators will be prohibited from posting video they take at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on social media services.
The International Olympic Committee encourages fans and competitors to be active on social networking services, but the rules are meant to protect the huge investments companies have made to broadcast the games.
Organizers face a dilemma in an age when young people appear to feel less of a connection with the Olympics. While it is hoped that the power of social networking services or SNS that captivate young people can be unleashed to remedy that situation, rules need to be established in order to ensure further investments by broadcasters.
By entering Olympic events, ticket holders are allowed to shoot photographs and video, but of that content, only photos can be uploaded to social media -- and then on condition they not be used for commercial purposes.
(Usain Bolt celebrates with fans after winning the men's 200 meters final at the 2016 Rio Olympics)[Getty/Kyodo]
The ban on uploading video content is not limited to images of competition. Even video of the crowd or of one's own family may not be uploaded to social media. That's because broadcast rights are said to extend to everything that occurs within the venues.
Objections have been raised on the internet, questioning whether these rules are too harsh and out of step with the times. But Atsushi Igarashi, the director of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Organizing Committee, claims they are necessary.
"What if, for example, fans video the 100-meter final and then quickly upload it, the broadcast rights holders might ask why they spent all that money in the first place," Igarashi said. "In sports, what happens in an instant is important."
Similar rules were in place last year at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Nerves at the IOC and among organizers are on edge because the gigantic fees paid for broadcast rights ensure the survival of the modern Olympics. According to IOC figures, 73 percent of the organization's income from 2013 to 2016 came from the sale of broadcasting rights, totaling $4,157 million (roughly 444.8 billion yen).
That income is distributed to each country's national Olympic committee, international sports federations, local organizing committees, to athletes and coaches in developing nations, and so on.
Masanori Takaya, a spokesman for the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee emphasized that when striking a balance it was essential to consider broadcasters' needs, saying, "This mechanism supports a huge circulation (of funds)."
Tickets to the Tokyo Olympics transfer the copyright of all photographs and videos taken by ticketholders at a venue to the IOC. If uploaded videos are discovered, the IOC will file to have them removed for copyright infringement. Although it is doubtful how well those measures can be pursued during the games themselves, the organizing committee has said that going forward it will warn ticket purchasers.
The digitization of the Olympics has increased rapidly since the 2012 London games, which were referred to as the "SNS Olympics" due to the rapid spread of services such as Twitter. But the flip side of that development is the conundrum posed by the ability to rapidly publish video content via SNS and the need to impose regulations in order to protect rights holders.
With that in mind, uniform rules for posting to SNS by athletes and volunteers are also apparently being established starting with the Tokyo Games.