Tokyo 2020: the National Lottery shows its support for Olympic athletes

Last year, for the first time ever, the Olympic Games - like many other sporting spectacles - was postponed, having only been cancelled a total of five times as a result of World War I and II since 1896.
Image: Sergei Bobylev/Tass/PA Images

By Holly Hunt

Olympic athletes had to wait five years to achieve glory this summer in Tokyo. An extra year of training disrupted by COVID-19 demanded more funding than ever for Team GB’s athletes. The latest edition of SBC Leaders examined how The National Lottery, operated by Camelot, supported Team GB throughout the Tokyo Olympics.

Last year, for the first time ever, the Olympic Games – like many other sporting spectacles – was postponed, having only been cancelled a total of five times as a result of World War I and II since 1896.

The event has been shrouded by controversy due to the looming global-scale health crisis and the declaration of a state of emergency in Japan; mass public opposition also cast a shadow during the run-up to the sporting showcase.

Although the country took a gamble on proceeding with the event, the Olympic Games remains to be one of the most exciting events in the sporting calendar, with the event filling a void for operators when leagues and competitions are ordinarily put on pause during the off-season.

Despite the lack of spectators in attendance to watch athletes across the globe make history in a summer of sport, 339 events across 33 sports – from table tennis to taekwondo and golf to gymnastics – were hosted across 41 different venues.

This year’s edition of the Summer Games, which will go down as the most expensive Olympic Games of all-time, saw the inclusion of a handful of new sports including karate, surfing, sport climbing and skateboarding – all of which unlock new opportunities for bookmakers. Meanwhile baseball and softball made a return to the Games.

Athletes from Great Britain were backed by The National Lottery, which continued its unwavering support by launching its ‘largest-ever’ branding campaign, voicing its support for Team GB Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

The Team GB investment was used to cover a range of Covid mitigation measures, from cutting-edge hygiene technology to a comprehensive testing programme, which set ut to protect the team delegation before and during the Games.

For ParalympicsGB, the investment has delivered safeguards including lateral flow testing across all prep camps, the Athlete Village and out-of-village locations, as well as Covid-secure transport and dining at athletes’ pre-Games camps in Tokyo.

British Paralympic Association CEO, Mike Sharrock, said: “Like so many organisations the Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the British Paralympic Association and this partnership with Camelot will help ensure we can deliver world-class preparation and Games time environments to empower our athletes to achieve their goals this summer.

“Tokyo 2020 is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the resilience of the human spirit and we are confident ParalympicsGB can help unite and inspire the nation once again.”

Sophie Morgan, Marketing Manager at Camelot Group, commented: “National Lottery players have funded over 1,000 elite athletes across the UK as they’ve prepared for Tokyo and beyond, and The National Lottery has a long history of playing a role in the success of Team GB and ParalympicsGB. 

“Following the introduction of National Lottery funding in 1997, Team GB has moved from 36th in the Olympic medal table in 1996 to second at the Rio 2016 Games. In total, 864 Olympic and Paralympic medals have now been won by British athletes since National Lottery funding began.

“So, the idea of this summer-long, unmissable campaign – which is The National Lottery’s largest ever brand campaign – is to remind players that, every time they play a National Lottery game, they’re helping our Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes in Tokyo.”

Alongside the core campaign, advertising for the individual National Lottery games was badged with the Team GB and Paralympics GB logos, and the Lotto ‘It Could Be You’ TV ads given a fresh update with a Tokyo twist – reminding players of the part they play in funding athletes at every National Lottery touch-point.

“Taking inspiration from the original National Lottery campaign of the same name, we launched a new series of Lotto ads under the ‘It Could Be You’ banner last summer,” Morgan added. 

“With the help of oversized lottery balls, the ads aim to tell the nation that their numbers are coming for them. This summer, the ads will be updated with a Tokyo twist and will feature a famous ParalympicsGB face alongside those mega Lotto balls.”

The core aim of this campaign, the Camelot Marketing Manager told SBC Leaders, is to remind National Lottery players of the differences they make in supporting Good Causes. 

British Olympic Association CEO, Andy Anson, added: “The nation has been heavily impacted during the last 12 months and the Tokyo Games provide an amazing opportunity to generate a positive message.

“The support of Camelot is timely in ensuring that we’re able to maintain the world-class environment for our athletes in Tokyo whilst incorporating the vital additional infrastructure to make sure our facilities are Covid-secure for our athletes and to allow them to reach the ‘start line’ in the best possible condition.

“We’re also excited to work with Camelot and their staff on our innovative wellness programme and share the lessons learned from the success of Team GB.”

With Team GB having sent its largest contingent of athletes to the Games, national pride also played a role in boosting the money raised for the National Lottery’s Good Causes. British audiences watched a host of gold medal winning performances from their Olympic heroes such as Tom Daley and Matty Lee in the synchronised 10m diving and Adam Peaty in the 100m breaststroke, keeping the country firmly in the top 10 leaderboard

Morgan continued: “National Lottery players raise an incredible £36 million a week for Good Causes. So, even though they primarily play for the big jackpots on offer, it’s really important that we regularly remind them of the difference that they make. That way, even when they don’t win a prize, they realise that Good Causes have benefited.

“The Olympics and Paralympics also always provide a fantastic moment of national pride and, given the difficult circumstances we’ve all been living through, we hope that National Lottery players get a real boost from knowing that they’ve played a part in this amazing summer of sport.”

Throughout the Summer Games, the National Lottery used both its digital and retail presence to deliver Olympic-themed point of sale items – thereby driving new levels of engagement with lottery players across the UK.

The items included Tokyo merchandise and a range of specialised games – including a limited edition Win Gold £1 Scratchcard and three special event Lotto and EuroMillions draws

The UK’s National Lottery wasn’t the only lottery organisation showing its support for this year’s Olympics, with Tokyo 2020 presenting a host of new opportunities for US lotteries.

Across the pond, Lotteries were able to offer Team USA-themed content on instant scratch tickets, ilottery games, social setting games, and terminal-based instant games. Meanwhile  France’s National Lottery operator, La Française des Jeux (FDJ) launched a new scratchcard game themed around the French Olympic and Paralympic teams in Tokyo.

“Now is the time for lotteries to plan programs that will bring the excitement of Team USA’s participation in the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games to their players,” explained Peter Zeytoonjian, Senior Vice President of Consumer Products, US Olympic and Paralympic Properties. 

“We’re creating amazing opportunities for US fans and we’re excited lotteries can now extend experiences through the games they offer to players.”