Will the Paris Olympics mark a new era of inclusive, accessible sports storytelling?

We asked industry leaders their thoughts on the potential impact of the 2024 Games

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director Creativebrief


2024 will mark a new era of sports storytelling, realised by social media, but driven by a wholesale shift in sports culture towards a more inclusive and authentic narrative.

Just as the 2012 London Olympics was heralded as the first ‘social media olympics’ the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games promises to raise the bar of sports storytelling.

Performance messaging alone has run out of steam. In the wake of the emotional and economic fallout of the covid crisis, consumers are seeking more humanity from their sporting superstars. TikTok has ushered in a new era of ‘messy marketing’ where consumers seek out authentic storytelling that goes beyond individual performance.

Sport has always been unique in its ability to drive cultural currency and brand love. This year’s unique summer of sport brings with it the opportunity to tell new stories, highlight new Olympic sports and provide consumers with unexpected moments of joy and pain.

With this in mind, we asked industry experts if the Paris Olympics will mark a new era of inclusive, accessible sports storytelling.

Toan Ravenscroft

Toan Ravenscroft, M&C.jpg

Managing Director

M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment Amsterdam

Oui, oui!

And as a veteran of the last five cycles, I am here for it.

Inclusivity and accessibility have always been embedded within the Olympic Games – from the breadth of countries to the quadrennial introduction of new sports.

And they are literally the raisons d’etre of the Paralympic Games.

Relevance as ever is key.

Paris 2024 will mark the latest evolution, with gender parity for the first time alongside a commitment to reduce its carbon footprint by half.

Another example is the highly politicised issue of refugees.

Storytelling around the Refugee Olympic Team, now in its third Games, will focus on the 100 million globally displaced people they represent.

Nike, their official kit supplier, has brought their signature chutzpah to the issue too – shifting the attention to allowing athletes to define themselves.

There will be many more stories told at Paris 2024; but beyond the moral imperative for change, the audience that brands, athletes, organisers and committees are most interested in demand and expect it too.

The Olympic Games will rightly be centred on the emotion and the joy of sport, but the Olympic movement is also built on the potential to inspire and unite.

When commercial interest and audience needs align like this, expect the storytelling to come through loud and clear.

Those who don’t take their chance may well miss out and, worse still, be judged for it.

Ben Essen

Ben Essen iris.jpg

Chief Strategy Officer


When it comes to sports, storytelling and accessibility go hand in hand. We’re living in a golden age of sports content that is giving audiences access to sports far beyond their traditional fan bases.

For example, a recent study reports that 50% more people under the age of 45 watch Drive to Survive than consider themselves avid fans of F1. F1’s female fanbase has tripled in the time since the show launched.

I’m expecting this kind of ‘sport adjacent’ content to mushroom around the Olympics. The TikTok algorithm is expert at blending. 64% of viewing of the last Olympics happened on digital platforms. Given that the number of TikTok users has doubled since then, the vast majority of Olympics content is likely to be shared in ‘non sport’ contexts.

At Iris we’ve seen this first-hand - the ‘Drop In with Samsung’ skateboarding program features British Olympic hope Sky Brown, but collides her with stories from within the community around feminism, fashion and football; while the latest iteration, ‘First Flips’, aims to get Gen Z taking up skateboarding in the run-up to the Olympics by leveraging creators from the worlds of modelling and music.

If the stories around US college basketball star Caitlin Clark indicate anything, it’s that this combination of sports stories with epic narratives around societal change will be a big theme of these Olympics.

Rebecca K. Roussell & Connor Mellas


SVP Inclusive Communications & SVP Sport

Current Global

The Paris 2024 Olympics will captivate millions of viewers and attendees from all over the world. According to reports, Paris has developed a detailed accessibility action plan for the games, including accessible accommodations from transportation to on-site experiences. It has also been reported that major advancements in 5G technology will help with connectivity accessibility to ensure there are more enhanced immersive and digital video experiences, going beyond linear-style viewing. These advancements should be applauded, and it’s our hope that accessibility has been considered and accounted for in content and communications as well.

By default, or by design, people with disabilities are often excluded from content that we engage in every single day. Globally, that’s one in eight of the population: 400 million people have severe hearing loss. 300 million are visually impaired. 200 million have a cognitive disability. Those numbers are growing with an aging population. And during this Summer of Sport, there’s going to be more content out there than ever to delight and entertain. Sports has become significantly more accessible and inclusive in recent years.Take Super Bowl LVIII for example. The NFL created a game day accessibility resource guide linked, here. The guide included mobility assistance information for game day plus offered assistive listening tools for those who were deaf or hard of hearing. However, there is still much work to be done to help ensure that everyone has a chance to engage with the teams they support and the titans they cheer on. Together with the PR Council and the PRCA, (the world’s largest PR association), Current Global has developed a set of guidelines to help make communications more accessible. From easy tips on best practice alt text for images, adding audio descriptions to videos and making your events more inclusive, these guidelines are the first step to ensure that more people can view and engage in content. These guidelines are available to download via our special accessible communications website linked here

Geoff Chang

Geoff, eight&four.jpg

Creative Lead


Every four years, new household heroes are made. To the rest of us mere mortals gazing, jaw-dropped, from the side-lines, the Olympics and Paralympics are an endless source of glorious inspiration, whether you’re a marketer scouting the next record-breaking newcomer or a young child seeing a version of yourself on screen.

The best part is when all the countries parade out during the opening ceremony. It affords us a look at real diversity. For a moment, the world holds up a mirror. Behind every herculean effort, lies a human with a story to tell. Take Hidilyn Diaz who won the first-ever gold for the Philippines at the 2020 Games. Or how about Anthony Joshua from our beloved London 2012 Games? Remember the name, we did. From amateur scrapper to global superstar, he grew. And, therein, lies the romanticism of The Games.

How are our stories told? Who gets to tell them? How can brands harness the new faces of tomorrow? This summer’s games can inspire a new gold standard for what it means for global brands to be inclusive – no doubt sending cultural ripples to marketers around the world. Greatness doesn’t discriminate.

Michael Rekab

Michael Rekab, strategy director, Spring Studios.jpg

Strategy Director

Spring Studios

The Paris games are expected to be the first gender balanced Olympics in history. On top of that the organising body have pledged to deliver a truly inclusive experience to the near 350,000 visitors with disabilities who are expected to attend.

This commitment to inclusion and accessibility has set a perfect stage for brands to redouble their own efforts in creating a more inclusive and accessible world.

Ever since Channel 4 introduced us to the Superhumans as part of their Paralympic games campaign in 2012, we have seen how at its best, sports storytelling can be a driving force for inclusivity & accessibility in broader society.

More recently the stories of athletes like Italian wheelchair fencer Bebe Vio or the rise of Women’s football on the global stage have further shown that narratives born in the world of sport have the power to reset cultural views and shape real change in our society.

So for brands truly committed to seeing a more inclusive world, Paris 2024 is not only an opportunity to deliver more inclusive and accessible sports storytelling;

It’s a chance to harness the power of sport and the story of these games, to be the change that they want to see in the world.

Jenna Russell

Jenna Russell.jpg

Strategic Group Head


Brands and partners have a responsibility to progress the inclusivity agenda through the stories they tell in advertising.  It's not just about selling stuff; it's about showing the real mix of people who make up this world. We're stepping into an era where ads aren't just ads; they're snapshots of the real, beautifully diverse world we're all part of. Brands have a superpower to not just sell products but to sell values and beliefs though their ideas. And let's face it, it's about time, right? The recent shifts in the advertising world are setting the stage for an Olympics like we've never seen before. The growing spotlight on the Paralympics is a strong indicator that this year's games will receive unprecedented attention, and the integrations with the Olympics see brands handed the opportunity to celebrate all walks of life. Brands that don't just talk the talk but walk the walk by showing a world where diversity isn't just welcomed; it's celebrated will be rewarded with admiration.

Dan Parker

Dan Parker .jpg

Group Editorial Director

We Are Social

When it comes to the Olympics, the trajectory of gender equity and inclusion has been moving in the right direction. Participation isn’t just increasing; athletes are reclaiming their narratives and celebrating their identities. However, significant barriers remain. 

Female athletes continue to experience disproportionate online abuse compared to their male counterparts (at the Tokyo Games, women were the target of 87% of social media abuse). LGBTQIA+ athletes were subjected to homophobic abuse even from volunteers and pundits. Further, trans inclusion has become a political issue that goes beyond elite sports, weaponised in the US as part of a wider debate around gender ideology. This is manifesting directly in the experience of those athletes – 67% of transgender athletes encounter slurs during sports participation.

Therefore, brands that want to tell inclusive sports stories must show bravery in the face of lingering toxicity. The Paris Olympics can mark a new era of accessible sports storytelling if brands do two things. Firstly, celebrate the wins of female and LGBTQIA+ athletes, and stand by those athletes and marginalised communities by calling out abuse. Secondly, they should encourage participation from the ground up. The barriers women, LGTBQ+, transgender and non-binary sports stars face affect athletes and future participation. Indeed, 78% of people in the LGBTQIA+ community say they wouldn’t consider playing grassroots sport, because of the presence of homophobia. 

Brands can bring about a new era of inclusivity in sport by both standing with discriminated-against athletes in the present and safeguarding the future of participation through grassroots investment.