Why do Crowds Matter in Climbing Competitions? Video

© Lena Drapella/IFSC

There will be no spectators at Sport Climbing's Olympic debut next week. What impact will this have on the athletes, who often beckon the crowd for extra support and rely on audience reactions to gauge their progress in relation to their fellow competitors, or to choose a particular method of attempting a move?

In a post-round interview last week, Team GB Taekwondoin and double Olympic champion Jade Jones described how the lack of a crowd and support from family and friends had affected her ability to fight, leading to an unexpected first round defeat.

"Not having my family there to push me out of that fear zone really did affect me, and I'm just gutted that I couldn't have done more on the day," she commented. "Obviously, it's easy to say woulda coulda shoulda because champions adapt and I didn't adapt, but for me I do love a crowd and my family being there, so for me it was a struggle and I did miss them being there."

Climber and video creator Albert Ok researched this topic at the start of the pandemic and produced a video describing the role that a crowd can play in athletes' performances. He also interviewed me about the crowdless CWIF event in 2020, which featured piped cheering and clapping — something that is featuring at the Olympic Games, too. 

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