Mary Byrne, editor-in-chief of and the Olympics Channel reveals how the organisation is preparing digital content for Paris 2024

Olympics 2022 1

The Olympics has long been a bright spot for women’s sport, but the Paris 2024 Games will mark a momentous achievement for the competition - full gender parity on the field of play for the first time in its history. 

Mary Byrne Olympics

Making sure that this is reflected in the Olympics’ official website content, both video and written, has been the job of Mary Byrne, editor-in-chief for and the Olympics Channel - working across its short form video, docuseries, one-off documentaries, and written content. Speaking to Broadcast Sport, she explained the meticulous approach her team has: “We track every piece of content.

“There’s no requirement that says every day it must be 50:50. For example, there may be an event that’s featuring, a qualifying tournament for men’s handball. You’re going to have more stories about men during that time period because of the nature of the competition. Then we just make sure that we balance it out. We track it every day so that we can keep an eye on it month to month and make sure we’re where we need to be.”

This goes into every part of a story, not just the leading figures, “It’s those smaller details that are important to think about. Not just who’s the subject of the story, but who are those other people who are speaking in the story and are they diverse as well?

“For us, it’s about telling stories about women, but not just on the field. Who are they as a person? They’re not just an athlete. It’s a huge part of who they are, certainly. But what are the other things that they’re super passionate about, and are we reflecting that? Geographic diversity, economic diversity, that we’re telling different types of stories about different types of female athletes, is really important as well.”

Olympics 2022

Finding these lesser known stories leads to Byrne working closely with federations to identify who to feature, “I have no shame! With the federations, I’ll just ask, what are the stories we’re not telling? Who do we not know about? They know their sports. They know their athletes better than anybody. Is there somebody whose story we should be telling and we have somehow missed? Please let us know. We ask athletes that as well, who’s a team-mate, who’s someone that you train with, who’s someone that can’t believe they’re not getting press?”

Byrne believes organisations aross the industry can take similar steps: “Be honest about your own shortcomings, but also constantly try to improve. Do that in a very realistic way. Work with partners, whether that’s federations or others, to come together to provide more opportunities to women in sport.”

The IOC does this itself, sharing its gender portrayal guidelines with federations and rights holders. “It’s a reminder. It’s not meant to be, ‘This is what you should do.’ No one’s pointing fingers here. It’s just when you choose to use an image, what image are you using? Why are you choosing that? If that were your sister, it that were you, is that the image you’d choose? It’s always nice to just take a moment and think, before the heat of the moment. It’s really taking that step back, thinking about gender portrayal, putting that down and then sharing that.”

She added, “This is an athlete’s shining moment. This is their moment on the stage, and they have a horrible face because they’re in the middle of diving or doing something incredibly complex. Sometimes it’s easy to think, ‘Well, they’re diving but that’s just what it looks like.’ Yes, but we’ve taken this still moment of it and they’re making this horrible face. Taking that extra 10 seconds, 30 seconds to see if there’s another image, it sounds silly here, but in that heat of the moment, you’re just like, ‘I got to get a photo, I got to go.’ So, hopefully you’ve read the gender portrayal guidelines, and it’s there in the back of your mind and activates in that moment.”

Mary Byrne was talking to Broadcast Sport on behalf of the International Olympic Committee during Gender, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion month.

Main image 1: Cuban boxer Legnis Calá is interviewed by an crew – freelance Spanish editor Marta Martin and freelance camera op Raul Cadenas de la Vega.

Main image 2: An crew interviews Italian biathlete Carlotta Gautero, who won gold meda at the Youth Winter Olympic Games Gangwon 2024 in January. crew from left to right: Student Annette Tagnipez, freelance Italian editor Gisella Fava and freelance camera op Raul Cadenas de la Vega.