From behind the scenes: Why the ultimate success of the Olympic Games depends on digital

This summer will culminate in the most digital, inclusive and innovative Olympic and Paralympic Games ever. We have digitized services and, ultimately, the success of the Olympic and Paralympic Games will depend on digital.

Edition after edition, we’ve evolved our technology, bringing innovations and enhancing our applications to ensure they’re up to date with market standards. For Tokyo 2020, we’ll be delivering real-time results and reinforcing security access through facial recognition. We’ll also be managing data for five new sports for the Olympic Games – surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing, karate, baseball and softball – and badminton and taekwondo join the Paralympic Games. And, for the first time, we’ll be hosting all critical systems on the cloud at a summer edition of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and leveraging edge computing at venues.

Breaking new ground from one edition to the next

Over the years, I’ve seen the systems critical to the successful delivery of the competition gradually evolve to a more centralized and automated system, reducing the carbon footprint and costs while accelerating innovation. For Bejing 2008, we launched the first web-based version of the Olympic Management System (OMS), making it accessible through a browser. The OMS – which includes 300,000 accreditations, workforce management, the competition and volunteer schedules – ensures the event runs smoothly. The launch of the volunteer portal in Vancouver 2010 not only streamlined the volunteering process but made it more interactive and increased the reach.

London 2012 saw a shift toward mobile, with the launch of the MyInfo digital results service to make results accessible to every member of the IOC family from everywhere. It was also the first Olympic and Paralympic Games on social media, and the first to stream every minute live.
We took our first steps into the cloud at Sochi 2014, with 75 percent of systems in the cloud for Rio 2016. Moving to the cloud means we can use existing data centers, and these can also be reused once the competition is over. It also moves us from a ‘build each time’ to a ‘build once use many times’ model. We made the OMS more mobile-friendly and more accessible in PyeongChang 2018, taking full advantage of evolutions in the way websites work.

We’ll see a series of firsts at Tokyo 2020:

• For the first time during a summer edition of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, all critical digital services will be delivered and fully managed remotely through the cloud, thus enabling more consistency, efficiency and effectiveness in delivery across all programs.
We will orchestrate edge computing in 43 competition venues for the first time, leveraging Platform as a Service (Paas) to achieve a seamless environment that ensures top performance.
• And we’ve implemented cloud-native applications in Tokyo, fully adapted to the cloud and, thus, providing greater flexibility, agility and scalability.

Together these advancements have improved productivity, accelerated app development,
increased sustainability and more.

Information can be delivered in just 0.3 seconds !

Deep diving into Tokyo 2020 edition

Discover the four areas that have been the focus of our attention:

  • Enabling fluid and efficient application development
    With our previous application architecture, any change in functionality meant we needed to act on the entire app. Our new microservices architecture offers a more agile alternative. We now only need to touch individual microservices when we make a change. And that has helped us improve productivity, accelerate development speed and minimize any potential disruption.We’ve also built a homogeneous PaaS to host the microservices. And we’re deploying the microservices in PaaS containers, so developers no longer need to worry about an individual cloud environment’s specific needs.
  • Developing more sustainable solutions for each edition
    The PaaS has also opened the door to another first: a cloud-native approach to software development. Adapting the ODS to be fully cloud-native has led to greater flexibility, agility and scalability. It is also reducing compute waste and energy usage. We also take advantage of the cloud services natively offered by cloud providers. This approach ensures we use less compute power and systems are always up to date and development is at speed.
  • Simplifying operations
    The single homogeneous PaaS provides a single toolset that we can use to build and maintain microservices for every cloud environment – whether public, private, edge or hybrid. Provisioning and operations are simplified, less prone to human error and require less effort. All in all, we have built a fully integrated, automated end-to-end toolchain that allows our development and operations teams now work together as a single ‘hybrid’ team. The handover from development to operations is now a thing of the past, saving two, sometimes three, weeks of precious time.
  • Delivering results in near real-time
    Finally, the PaaS also allows us to minimize latency. We can process and transmit competition data collected at the venues securely and in real-time for a fast, reactive and agile dashboard-style view that combines all venues’ results.

Ever wondered how commentators knew so much about the simultaneous competition happening, the weather forecast and all biography details on athletes?

The answer lies in the Commentator Information System (CIS), the system that provides real-time information for a specific sport to broadcasters in their TV unit at the venue. Our edge technique brings the service closer to the user to reduce latency, so information can be delivered in just 0.3 seconds – compared with 2.5 seconds without this technique.

For Tokyo 2020, digital translates into increased agility, manageability and sustainability. All this has been possible thanks to some major technological advances, including adopting our PaaS for the event and the modernization of our application architecture.

Today, we are really proud that our systems, processes and people are ready to make the Olympic and Paralympic Games happen again – not only this year but also into the future.

By Albert Minguillon, Major Events Products Director

Posted on July 27, 2021


Share this blog article

  • Share on Linked In

About Albert Minguillon
Major Events Products Director and member of the Scientific Community
Albert Minguillon is the Major Events Applications Director with over 15 years of experience in Major Events. He joined Major Events division as developer and after taking different roles both in System and Service Integration as well as operations, he returned to the technical world as senior architect and solution manager before moving to his current role leading all products delivered by Major Events. As a Senior Consultant and Project Manager Albert has actively been involved in various big Sport Events like the Olympic Games or Commonwealth Games as well as supported different projects from the background by contributing in process improvements or product developments.

Follow or contact Albert