Do media events still unite the host nation’s citizens? The case of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games



Takeshi Sakaki, Tetsuro Kobayashi, Mitsuo Yoshida, Fujio Toriumi



The Olympic Games are a typical media event and are seen as a festive occasion that monopolizes people’s attention through the mass media. The Games and their media coverage have a predetermined schedule that enhances the nation’s sense of unity by placing a temporary truce on political conflicts. Governments, especially those of Olympic host countries, tend to take advantage of this effect to garner support for their own policies. However, the effects of such media events may be weakening owing to changes in the media environment and increasing political polarization. Examining the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, this case study analyzes a large amount of Twitter data to probe Japanese social media users’ attitudes toward the Olympic Games and the relationship of these attitudinal changes with their attitudes toward the political leadership of the prime minister. The results showed that previously negative attitudes toward the Olympic Games improved as people enjoyed the event. However, this positive shift did not appear to be associated with their attitudes toward the prime minister. Users’ political predispositions strongly determined their attitudes toward the Olympic Games, indicating that the Olympic Games as a media event had limited implications for support for the administration.