From distributing results and television coverage around the world to lighting stadiums and powering the Olympic Village, organising the Olympic Games requires a huge technology operation. Here, Olympic.org talks to Jean-Benoît Gauthier, the IOC’s Technol
Q. How would you describe the technological challenge of organising the Olympic Games?
A. It’s a big challenge, but for me it’s important that we don’t organise the “Olympic Games of technology” because the Games are about the athletes, even if technology is everywhere nowadays and you can’t organize the Games without an intensive use of technology. The main challenge is that you need to be ready on time. Very often with large-scale projects, you are able to extend the deadline, but that isn’t possible with the Games; you have to be ready on time and everything has to work on day one. It’s also not a classic technology project, you have to operate and install equipment in some very strange places, such as swimming pools. This is what happens at big events and we have to install it all very quickly. We need to have a very clear process of how we can install everything in a short period of time, and then test it as well.
Q. How important are the different technology partners?
A. For me, we could not run the Games without the partners. Each one has a very important role – they obviously provide a lot of equipment, but they also provide people with specialist expertise. These experts are very experienced and they know how to operate in these conditions and know how to react in unexpected situations. And they’re not only technology experts, they are sports experts as well.
Q. How is the IOC involved in helping to organise the technological elements of the Games?
A. When a city is elected, we have to explain to them exactly what they have to do, why they have to do it, who their stakeholders are, who their clients are and what people are expecting. Throughout this, the Organising Committee is learning more and more. Then we bring in the partners – some of which will be involved up to four or five years before the Games – and they come in to help the Organising Committee prepare everything. We also have a monitoring role, because there are a lot of milestones and a lot of things that need to be delivered, so we need to regularly check their progress.
Then we assist them in a number of areas, for instance we have a process called ORIS – Olympic Results Information Services – where we have created a specific forum with the International Federations where we go sport-by-sport, discipline-by-discipline and we try to document exactly how the events will run, from start lists and results on the scoreboards to how the information will be distributed. At the end, we give them a document showing who needs what, when and what for. With that, the OCOG can develop its own project.
During the Games, we are within the busy operation – if there are any issues, we are involved.
And the after the Games, we will have the evaluation. Our job is to capture their knowledge and then the process begins again with the next OCOG. Each time, the knowledge and experience grows.