After facing delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Olympic Games are underway in Tokyo, but a surge in cases worldwide has taken the spectator out of these spectator sports.

However, thanks to AR content in Google Search, fans can get closer to select athletes than they would have if they had a ticket to the events.

During the keynote presentation for its I/O developer conference in May, Google unveiled sports athletes as the latest content type available in Google Search, with Olympic athletes Megan Rapinoe, Simone Biles, and Naomi Osaka (who had the privilege of lighting the lantern during the opening ceremonies) among the first available.

Images by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

Now, a search for “Olympics” via the Google mobile app uncovers not only the aforementioned trio but also six more Olympic athletes. The new AR athletes include freestyle swimmer Caleb Dressel, fencer Alexander Massialas, skateboarder Leticia Bufoni, badminton player P.V. Sindhu, pole vaulter Niklas Kaul, and sprinter Dina Asher-Smith.

For each athlete, users can choose from several actions specific to the athletes’ sports. For instance, you can watch Bufoni execute a 360-degree kickflip, rip a boardslide, or ride a mini-ramp.

You’ll need a device that supports ARKit on iOS or ARCore on Android. You’ll also need the Google app for iOS, while Android users can opt to search via the Google app for Android or the Google site on Chrome browsers.

Images by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality

Since launching AR content in Search, Google has steadily expanded the available content beyond the initial set of AR animals, from educational content, such as spacecrafts and historic caves, to entertaining fare, including Pac-Man and Baby Yoda.

Google isn’t alone in offering AR experiences involving the Olympics, with USA Today and NTT Docomo also filling the void. But, the prevalence of AR content around the event serves as another reminder of how AR can help connect people when circumstances, such as a global pandemic, force us apart.

Cover image by Tommy Palladino/Next Reality