Running Olympic and Paralympic Games technology rehearsals in unprecedented times
Testing is a vital part of the digital preparation for any Olympic and Paralympic Games, just as training is for athletes. After all, there will be no second chances during the event – or during Games’ time as we like to call it.
This year has been a very special year. Despite the unprecedented circumstances, the team has jumped all hurdles to make it happen. Several adaptations had to be made to ensure the delivery of the ever-more-critical digital services to the event.
Testing, testing, testing
The technology rehearsals simulate typical technology operations during competition time. This culmination of systems development and integration testing allows us to rehearse and evaluate the Olympic and Paralympic Games technology operational support model, roles, responsibilities, communication, relationships, policies and procedures.
In other words, they help ensure:
• our technology is ready, through end-to-end testing in a controlled environment,
• our staff are ready to interact within the technology and with other functions and external stakeholders,
• our operational procedures are fully defined and documented,
• and our members of staff are trained and experienced in following these procedures.
The tests simulate multiple scenarios that could impact competitions, including incidents, issues and requests. Officials trigger these various scenarios while teams located in the host city act them out, just as they would be on a typical competition day.
Those teams include people from the Organizing Committee Technology area, IT Security and functional areas such as logistics, press operations and village management. They also include technology partners and suppliers, and even external technology stakeholders such as press agencies and weather providers.
The teams do not know what will happen, making these simulations a perfect opportunity for them to rehearse, and for us to evaluate how well they adhere to the Olympic and Paralympic Games Time operational policies and procedures.
For the 1st time in history, Technology Rehearsal Officers executed scenarios remotely
Rapidly reacting to the new normal
Traditionally these rehearsals require teams to be physically present.
So how did we ensure we kept the vital simulation running when the COVID-19 pandemic hit? When it impacted the event with the postponement announcement, travel restrictions, country lockdowns and everyone at home? How did we react to optimize testing in what has become – at least for now – the new normal?
In just three days, with the support of Tokyo 2020 and International Olympic Committee representatives, we completely changed the plan for the technology rehearsals, mobilizing the team to participate from their homes around the world. For the first time in the competition’s history, Technology Rehearsal Officers executed scenarios remotely.
We improvised a home-office in record time, considering different working hours with teams based in Tokyo and Madrid. We adapted scenarios, modifying how they are triggered. We adapted how staff behavior, knowledge and response times are evaluated. And we adapted how we ensure teams follow all the steps defined in the Olympic Policies and Procedures and the rules of the sports.
It was amazing how well the teams adapted to the new situation and conditions. We completed technology rehearsals for 37 sports online over two nights, executing almost 200 scenarios in total.
This new digital format demonstrated that we can perform effective and efficient rehearsals and testing remotely and ensure our systems, processes and people are ready to make Olympic and Paralympic Games happen securely and safely for fans all around the world. We will definitely leverage this experience for future events.