With more than 300 events at the Olympics, it would be a logistical nightmare for NBC and Olympic Broadcasting Service, which provides the world feed, to layer in crowd noise, especially with each sport having its own cadence and pace.
Solomon noted that during breaststroke races in swimming, fans whistle during the races. Layering that in would be over the top. Most venues will run some sort of sound tracks to simulate crowd murmur or presence, but only to prevent total silence and for competitive reasons.
“We’ve pivoted to know that we’ve got access to all of these fields-of-play microphones. So, we really feel like we can enhance the sounds of the Games. But you will also hear any crowd presence that is actually being injected into the venue. You’ll hear it as the athletes hear it,” she said.
Terry Gannon, who will be broadcasting gymnastics, said not having a crowd will also call for some changes into how announcers call events.
“There are certain things you do as an announcer because you play off and wait for the crowd. Now you don’t have the crowd and you’re probably going to have to come in right away,” he said.
With friends and family unable to watch in the venues, NBC is deploying production teams throughout the country to catch their reactions. The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee has set up a base at Universal Resorts in Orlando, Florida.
Other broadcasters are taking a different approach. Australia's Seven Network says it plans to layer in crowd noise because it gives fans a level of familiarity.
“We will be using crowd effects in our Olympic Games coverage purely to enhance the viewer experience, said Lewis Martin, Seven’s head of network sport. "These effects have been successfully refined in our coverage of the AFL (Australian Rules Football) over the past 18 months, when we have worked tirelessly to meet the feedback of our viewers, whose primary expectation is simply that the contest they’re watching sounds and looks like the sport they know and love.”
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People sit in an empty tribune during a volleyball team training session at Ariake Arena at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Credit: Manu Fernandez
Credit: Manu Fernandez