As Canada’s Paralympic athletes prepare for the Summer Paralympic Games scheduled for this August in Tokyo, the Canadian Paralympic Committee is busy behind the scenes, finding creative new ways to bring the competition to Canada.
The pandemic introduced several obstacles for the non-profit organization – which represents and advocates for Paralympic athletes in Canada – including the postponement of the games.
With many families, friends and fans also unable to travel to watch the games in-person – and limited traditional media coverage planned – the CPC is relying on a new digital approach to help connect Canadians with the athletes as they prepare to travel overseas.
“Our job is to bring Canadians to Tokyo in a virtual way,” says Martin Richard, CPC’s executive director of marketing and communications. “We basically had to rip out the pages of the ‘How-to’ book and reinvent our approach.”
A new digital strategy
Paramount to the Canadian Paralympic Committee’s digital strategy is a new virtual studio in the athlete’s village.
The area is fully equipped with the technology and software needed to remotely stream and publish video from Tokyo to various media channels across Canada at the push of a button.
With CPC coordinators set up in Toronto monitoring the feed, the 2021 Paralympics will be easier than ever to watch on television, streaming websites and social media, says Richard.
“Everything is online nowadays, so the pandemic really pushed us to bring our services to a new digital level,” he says. “The things that we have planned on our website and on broadcast channels are unlike anything we’ve done in the past.”
The virtual studio will update CPC’s channels and various other media partners with live results from the games, and up-to-the-minute medal tracker and streams of all of the Paralympic events.
And, for the first time, Paralympic content and programming will be available during peak viewing times during the day, complementing live coverage from Tokyo at night, creating a 24-hour cycle of Paralympic coverage for 14 straight days.
“It’s so important for us to provide an environment for individuals to consume, discover and learn about Paralympic sports and the athletes who compete within them,” says Richard, adding that the CPC’s digital focus will also allow fans to interact with athletes and share their support in real-time. “It’s funny … I’ve never felt more prepared for the games than I do this year.”
A local partner
Assisting the Canadian Paralympic Committee with its virtual transition is OPIN Digital, an Ottawa-based digital agency that designs and builds digital web, mobile and app experiences.
The team at OPIN redesigned the CPC website in 2018, improving the site’s navigation and ensuring it was accessible to all users – including those with visual impairments.
With the summer games fast approaching – and heavy traffic expected to the Paralympic website – the team at OPIN are continuing to work with the CPC to ensure everything is running smoothly come competition time.
“It’s phenomenal to watch these individuals compete, and to see the mental and physical strength that these athletes have,” says Ryan Pelicos, marketing coordinator at OPIN Digital. “We are super proud to be part of the team that is helping spread the word to more Canadians.”