Picture Credit: Ryunosuke Kikuno via Unsplash
Picture Credit: Ryunosuke Kikuno via Unsplash

Tokyo hosted an amazing Olympic Games and are about to get an unforgettable Paralympics underway but there is just one thing missing, well thousands of things missing – fans.

These Games were always going to be special and stand out from the rest given that they are being staged in the middle of a global pandemic, but this has come at a cost.

Families, friends, significant others and spectators just wanting to cheer athletes on haven’t been allowed into venues due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, especially in Japan itself which has declared an emergency to try and keep the virus better contained.

However, it isn’t all bad news, in this digital age people have figured out different ways to interact with people and that is exactly what the IOC and IPC have done in partnership with Airbnb.

This trio including the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee and Airbnb have launched Tokyo Together – a chance to interact with current Olympians and Paralympians online as well as Olympic legends and people who work behind the scenes at the huge event.

Bookings for these one-of-a-kind experiences opened on July 15 but there are still plenty of opportunities to book onto events as athletes will be telling their stories once they get back from Japan.

IOC Athletes’ Commission Chair, Kirsty Coventry gave insight as to why this programme has been unveiled, she said: “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.”

By booking an experience with the athlete Hosts, the money they receive will provide a valuable income for them which is especially important for the Olympians and Paralympians who make up the Refugee Teams.

10 members of the Refugee Team and Scholarship Holder Hosts are taking part in the online experiences where they can earn money by teaching skills and holding workshops which include full body workouts and self-defence classes.

Yusra Mardini, a Syrian-born Olympic swimmer, hosted ‘Redefining Resilience with Yusra Mardini’, where she spoke about her journey to get to Tokyo 2020 and shared lessons on wider topics such as the power of understanding, what it means to be a young, female, refugee athlete and explaining how her and her teammates can make a big impact on how refugees are perceived in the world.

There are many other experiences involved in Tokyo Together which are still yet to take place including a talk from the youngest ever Team GB Olympic medallist skateboarder, 13-year-old Sky Brown, and her dad on August 19 and a session with two-time Paralympian and former captain of the England blind football team, Keryn Seal, to explain the background of the game and give an insight into what happens in the Paralympic village.

It isn’t all sport based as there are also Japanese hospitality experiences where guests will be able to travel and explore the different cultures and traditions of Japan in activities including learning to draw Japanese Manga, virtually bathing in Kyoto and a complete guide to Geisha culture.

Even though fans and spectators couldn’t watch the Games in person and won’t be able to attend the Paralympics, they will still be able to get their Olympics fix virtually and have more access to the athletes than they ever have before.

For more information on the Olympian and Paralympian Online Experiences or to view the full lineup, 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.

Words by Lucy Roberts for Female First, who you can follow on Twitter, @Lucy_Roberts_72.

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