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Olympics

OLYMPICS | Japan Prepares for Safe and Secure Tokyo 2020 Through Advanced Technology

A unique challenge for a unique set of the Games. Find out how Japan is expanding in a range of technologies to improve the experience of athletes and fans.

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Scenes from the Olympic Village

The last sprint towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympic Games has officially begun. The Games start on July 23.

One thing is for sure. This is set to be an Olympics and Paralympics the likes of which have never been seen before.

The question in everyone’s mind is: what will the Games truly be like for athletes who enter the bubble in the Olympic Village when they arrive?

Whiz Around Safely, Welcomed by Robots

It turns out that in organizing the unique edition of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in such a large city as Tokyo, technology is a huge helping hand. This is especially true for transportation, and many athletes will be able to experience this first hand.

Companies such as Toyota are standing at the forefront of this technological showcase. Picture this: instead of being driven around and coming into contact with local drivers, athletes will experience Self-Driving Vehicles using Remote-Operated Driving, via a control center.

Mobility for all at the Olympic Village

With a futuristic cube design reminiscent of the Woven City of the future, the low-speed vehicle (the size of a small bus) aims to create “Mobility for All.” They are fully accessible, including for those with wheelchairs, enabling everyone to enter, exit and hold onto handrails with ease.

For athletes who will be traveling around Tokyo by car, check out the fuel-cell vehicles using the latest battery technology, such as the hydrogen powered Mirai, and plug-in hybrid vehicles like the Prius PHV.

On a more micro level, carmaker Toyota has created Olympic mascot robots Miraitowa and Someity, designed to welcome athletes and bring smiles at venues. Controlled remotely and with VR capability, they are set to give athletes and other participants a peek at what could be the society of the future. 

Technology collaborations, Tokyo Olympic Games (Credit: International Olympic Committee)

Immersive Viewing Experience

With athletes in a bubble and international spectators not allowed to travel, Japan is stepping up its game in other technologies, too. Try the immersive technology and see how it improves the experience of athletes and fans. 

For example, the Tokyo 2020 Games are set to deliver a range of events through Intel True VR ー including the opening and closing ceremonies. The technology will provide an immersive experience wherever the international rights-holding broadcasters provide this option. (Check online and local broadcast sources to see if this is available near you.)

More broadly, Tokyo 2020 is set to be the first Games coverage produced live in 4K HDR, with Japanese broadcaster NHK showing a content package in 8K, providing visual quality that most have never experienced.

Hi-tech, bright and spacious activity areas inside the Athlete’s Village
The dining area is spacious, well-ventilated, and seating is separated to minimize risks
MOFA sponsored
Fugaku’s simulation of the spread of droplets from talking across a table
Plexiglas partitions allow athletes to work out safely

Technology for COVID-19 Prevention

Arriving athletes and participants will undoubtedly have the new official Tokyo 2020 mobile app to follow news about the Games. 

Some might be more concerned with apps for health reports and contact tracing, such as OCHA (Online Check-in and Health Report App) and COCOA (Contact Confirming App).

In reality though, there are other creative ways in which Japanese technology will be contributing to safety from COVID-19 during the Tokyo Olympics. RIKEN and Fujitsu’s supercomputer, Fugaku, currently the most powerful in the world, will be crunching numbers and creating simulations as necessary to keep athletes and participants safe.

On a more general level, state of the art security cameras by Panasonic will help ensure athletes’ security. The network camera system makes use of AI technology for video analysis and tasks, such as for facial recognition, while maintaining optimal footage quality. Similar technologies were tested in several mass events leading up to the Summer Games.

Making the Most of the Unique Games

Resilience and creativity are showcased in the tireless effort of Host Towns and their programs with athletes from around the world.

For example, beating the distance and the seven hours of time difference, Tsuruoka City in Yamagata prefecture held a remote indoor archery competition on February 6, 2021. Those competing were students in the under-17 category both from the local school in Japan, and from the Republic of Moldova. 

In the opening message a Moldovian 15-year-old student commented energetically in Japanese: ”Let’s work hard, and make a lot of wonderful memories in this competition!”

An exhibition archery match included a university student from Tsuruoka going against an Moldova Olympic Archery athlete.

Another instance of technology making the world a little more connected was presented in November 2020 by Ube City in Yamaguchi prefecture. With the use of avatar robots, a Paralympic athlete from Madagascar visited the city virtually, moving around with a robot, hearing the cheers of the local children, and even visiting a local museum. 

Apart from technology, there are many other great projects with hundreds of Host Towns around Japan. Some include designs by local children of Yaotsu Town in Gifu prefecture for the Isreaeli team, and a school in Sakuragawa city, Ibaraki prefecture, serving Bulgarian food.

Moreover, there are online events and opportunities that Olympians and Paralympians can look forward to when they come to Japan during the Games.

Ozu Castle

Touring castles online brings you inside Japanese history, with 360 degree views of Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture and Osaka Castle

Take a virtual visit to one of the many museums in Tokyo, from art museums such as the Tokyo National Museum and the National Museum of Modern Art, to the Miraikan, a museum dedicated to technology and scientific innovation. 

Tokyo 2020 mascot Miraitowa high-fives a fan.

(This article is published in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.)

Author: JAPAN Forward