Who can forget the Guldfiren (golden four) triumphing in Beijing in the men’s lightweight coxless four? And how about youngster Lasse Norman Hansen reigning supreme in the men’s omnium inside the Lee Valley VeloPark at the London edition four years later?
Nobody in Denmark, and we mean nobody in Denmark, missed swimming’s postergirl Pernille Blume confirming her status as the fastest woman in the world in the 50 metres freestyle at Rio in 2016.
That’s because all three events were broadcast on free-to-air television.
But here comes the bombshell – hold onto your klaphat, Jens – as next year a large proportion of the Danish public won’t be able to watch these sports.
Goodbye to rowing, swimming and cycling
The two rights holders, the national broadcaster DR and TV group Discovery Networks Denmark, have announced today that they have equally divided the sports (see below), and it is bad news for the ever-increasing segment of the population who shun cable television and mostly stream.
Historically swimming, cycling and rowing have yielded a third (33 percent) of the nation’s medals – respectively 14, 26 and 24 medals – but in recent years this has been on the increase to the extent they count for a half.
In 2008, the three sports accounted for 57 percent, in 2012 some 44 percent, and in 2016 a share of 47 percent.
But in Tokyo, only subscribers to the Discovery channels will be able to watch the sports.
Could get worse in 2024
Japanophiles can rest easy, though, as DR will broadcast the closing and opening ceremonies, and they’ve got the rights to show the athletics, handball and badminton, along with the sailing – Denmark’s most successful sport at the games with an all-time total of 30 medals.
“Sport offers one of the best ways to bring us together as a nation,” enthused Henriette Marienlund, the DR media director.
Only, this time around in Tokyo, that will be the segment of society who have access to the Discovery channels – specifically Channel 5, Eurosport 1 and Eurosport 2 – or their streaming services Dplay and Eurosport Player.
Looking ahead to 2024, it could get worse as Discovery is the sole rights holder, although in 2017 it did agree to share the 2020 TV rights with DR, as well as the rights for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The Tokyo Olympics will run from July 24 to August 9.