The technologies behind the 2021 Olympics


A 2021 Olympics started and the technology acts on several fronts behind the scenes of the biggest sporting event in the world. Data analysis, monitoring, mobility, internet and very high quality TV image are among the event’s novelties.

It is not new that the Olympics is marked by the use of flashy or innovative technologies, such as the drone balloon which was one of the main attractions of the opening ceremony.

For Arthur Igreja, visiting professor at FGV, specialist in innovation and author of the book “Conveniência é o Nome do Negócios”, the Olympics have always been a milestone in the launch of innovations.

“The event is a showcase of the host country. Just remember the rocket backpack that was already used in the opening, the technologies already used in so many previous Olympics. And now, adding that to Japan, which is an absolutely technophile country, this generates even more expectations. In addition to being a sporting event, it is a phenomenon of communication, marketing and affirmation of the country in reflecting even more to the world”, says Igreja, in an interview with EXAM.

As the use of data in sports training advances, more and more sports are adopting movement monitoring and cross-referencing to improve athletes’ performance.

A case that gained fame in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup was the use of the big data analytics solution from the German company SAP by the German national team, which defeated the Brazilian team by 7 x 1. The team analyzed numerous data on training and games to improve performance on the field.

The solution used was Match Insights, developed in partnership with Deutscher Fussball-Bund (DFB), a German football confederation. The application allowed technicians and preparers to process all the volume of information generated in a match or even in preparation and get tips on how to improve the team’s performance.

“The use of technology is a decision-making factor. As in the business world, this has become a race for who uses technology best in their favor. Technology helps to better answer the questions we have, such as how to perform faster, form the best team, and also to raise questions that we don’t think about”, says Igreja.

This year, SAP was not left out of the Olympic Games. The company sponsors triathlete Jan Frodeno, who uses a solution called SAP Business Technology Platform to analyze data about his workouts and find out how to improve his swimming, cycling and running performance.

“Many athletes use fitness trackers, wearable devices, sports watches and smartphones during training and competition,” says Frodeno, in a statement. “For me, as a professional athlete, I have a strong desire to collect as much data as possible using the latest technologies. The challenge is not collecting the data, but how to manage it and derive value from it, enabling my team to make well-informed, performance-oriented decisions.

technology of time

In athletics and many other sports, a crucial technology is needed to determine the winner: a good watch. Responsible for this at the 2021 Olympics is the Swiss Omega.

The company uses small sensors placed on all athletes’ shirts to collect and analyze performance data in the competitions. About 2,000 datasets per second are analyzed, including velocity and acceleration.

In beach volleyball, the company uses a camera with artificial intelligence features in its software to measure both the height of the player’s launch and jump. This technique will not only be used in volleyball. Omega will also use technology in sports such as gymnastics, swimming and cycling.


Tennis is another sport that has the technology present for analyzing and improving players’ performance. Companies like Hawk-Eye Innovations use surveillance cameras that capture with pinpoint accuracy whether the ball has landed in or out of court.

In baseball, the Danish TrackMan helps, with its technology, the players of the Japan team to improve their performance in search of the medal in the Olympics, which takes place in their backyard. The company uses technologies similar to those used in the armed forces’ aerial radar to identify and collect data on pitches and shots. With the information, it is possible to specifically train the deficit technique.

Chinese tech giant Alibaba created Alibaba Cloud Pin, a kind of cloud-based digital bottom for media professionals at the Tokyo Olympics. The device’s proposal is to enable the exchange of information about daily activities, while users maintain social distance to avoid the contagion of covid-19.

Like other companies, Alibaba is also working, in partnership with the American Intel, to host the technology for tracking athletes. Using artificial intelligence techniques from the cloud computing service Alibaba Cloud, the company can analyze videos of athletes and generate three-dimensional models of them to help with training.


In addition to the athletes’ performance, the technology is present in transport at the 2021 Olympics. The Japanese automaker Toyota has an autonomous vehicle (with human supervision) to transport up to 20 people from one point to another during the games. The vehicles are electric and have a range of about 150 km, reaching a speed of 19 km/h.

They have advanced sensors to detect objects, people and obstacles along the way, like cameras and LiDAR sensors (used in autonomous cars in tests, like the Google car).

See the vehicle in the video below.

Facial recognition

Those who arrived in Japan aboard ANA, Swiss International Air Lines and Lufthansa flights had contact with NEC’s facial recognition technology to perform check-in with 99.9% accuracy.

The technology is so accurate that it does not require the presentation of a passport or even an air ticket. It works even in times of pandemic as it can identify faces even when wearing covid-19 protective masks. The analysis of biometric data, especially from people’s eyes, takes just a second.

Internet and broadcast in 8K resolution

Cisco, NTT DOCOMO and Intel have partnered with the International Olympic Committee to provide the 5G internet network infrastructure for the 2021 Olympic Games. Based on the Intel Xeon processor, the network will allow the connection of 42 games competition venues, beyond the Athletes’ Village.

Finally, anyone in Japan will be able to follow the Olympics in 8K image resolution. If you don’t even know what this is, it’s worth a comparative explanation: it has 16 times more pixels than what is displayed on a Full HD resolution TV, or four times more than a 4K TV. The broadcast will be carried out by the Japanese public broadcaster NHK, on ​​its BS8K (Broadcast Satellite 8K) channel.

The network provides 200 hours of 8K coverage, including games, sports such as swimming, athletics and judo, and ceremonies. at the paralympic games, there will be 8K broadcast for athletics, swimming, badminton and wheelchair rugby. According to the consultancy Statista, 8.8 million Japanese households had a 4K or 8K TV in fiscal 2019, a number the research firm estimates will exceed 16 million this year.