Coming a year behind schedule, the Tokyo games were like no other. Never have we seen positive tests come back that had nothing to do with steroids or performance enhancing drugs. Every Olympic game has a story to tell, but peculiar is how I'd like to describe Tokyo 2020, one that we may never see again.
So let's dig deep right into the crux of the matter and see how Tokyo was different to previous games.
Environment At The Heart Of The Games
Alarm bells have been ringing globally, due to an offset of rising temperatures, sporadic weather and flooding. As a result, the Olympic organisers have decided to put sustainability at the core of its cult. In doing so, they have initiated concepts that are intriguing with a hint of necessary, paving the way for the world to follow.
1. Beds Made Out Of Cardboard
“Anti-sex” beds at the Olympics pic.twitter.com/2jnFm6mKcB— Rhys Mcclenaghan (@McClenaghanRhys) July 18, 2021
Similar to that of Covid-19, the idea that the beds were labelled 'anti-sex' went viral on social media. Thankfully, Irish gymnast, Rhys McClenaghan debunked the myth of any long-standing prudish accusations by putting the bed to test, thereby getting a pat on the back from the Olympic committee themselves for doing so.
The beds are said to hold up to 200kg with the average weight of the athlete being 72kg. This is the first time in Olympic history that athletes’ beds are made almost entirely out of polyethylene fibres (renewable materials), that can adapt to different body shapes and be recycled infinite number of times.
2. Podium Crafted From Recycled Plastic
The first of its kind podium was made out of recycled plastic, as the general public participated in a project to collect used plastic and plastic marine debris.
The podium design embodies the “diversity and inclusion” message embedded in the emblem. Professor Tanaka Hiroya of Keio University helped transform the detailed design into a model made of recycled plastic using a 3D printer. The result demonstrates the advanced technological capabilities of Japan.
3. Medals And Mobility
The Tokyo organisers have hung their hats on 'beyond carbon neutrality' inititatives, and as a result have driverless electric cars called 'Toyota e-Palette' that shuttle competitors and media staff between venues.
The vehicle also features an external human-machine interface designed to assist communication with those around the vehicle, including pedestrians, during automated driving. It also has floor, trim, seats, and other components with colour contrasts that assist people with colour-blindness.
While on the other hand, athletes that step foot on the podium would have been made aware that their accomplishment in the form of a medal was made out of recycled old electronic gadgets such as smartphones and laptops. What this tells us is that everyone has a role to play in climate change and Japan have shown us just that.
Tech Takes The Wheel
1. A Robotic Meet And Greet
At first glance you'd probably think this mascot like suit has ingested a body in the form of a human being. But that's completely false. For the first time, the Olympics committee and the Toyota Motor Corporation have two mascot robots that will help welcome athletes and visitors to the Olympic official venues.
They are remote controlled by a human operator, but for recognition of people, a camera will be mounted on the robots head that will help it respond with expressions and movement. Toyota has been developing life-size humanoid robot, T-HR3, since 2017, and it mirrors the movements of their human handlers who control it. The company says that T-HR3, which is controlled by VR goggles and an exoskeleton, will not only be able to high-five athletes but even hold a conversation.
The Tokyo games has been a prolific platform for Japan to showcase its love for technology.
One robot that went slightly underused during the Games is the Delivery Support Robot, which was designed to deliver food and drinks to spectators in 500 wheelchair-accessible seating. However, we'll be seeing a lot more of these metallic mates in the near future.
2. AI Shows Its Dominance
To fasten the process of identification of athletes into restricted venues, one of the most ground-breaking measures to be used during the Tokyo 2020 Games is the facial-recognition ID system that has been implemented
The system, provided by NEC Corporation, one of the world’s leading companies in facial-recognition technology, will give access to approximately 300,000 athletes, officials, volunteers and media representatives.
In use for the first time, this facial-recognition system, which is able to verify the identity of individuals from a database of 1.6 million images with an extremely high level of accuracy in only 0.3 seconds, has been adopted. Beginning with fingerprint verification, NEC has been researching biometric identification and developing technologies for nearly 50 years.
Athletes Marred By COVID-19
The organisers took a major risk with the games being staged during a pandemic, that entailed crowds of tourists being banned, extravagant celebrations replaced by tough infection controls, and with tariffs on handshakes and hugs.
1. Athletes Can't Play Tourist
One of the things athletes look forward to apart from participating in their respective events is traveling around in the host country. Unfortunately, those very hopes were shattered as a state of emergency was in place that impeded athletes from playing tourist.
2. Laws Against Hugging And Handshaking
It is human nature to feel the tactility while celebrating. However, athletes were barred from interacting in this manner.
Athletes had to stay two meters or about six-and-a-half feet apart from each other, including meal times.
3. Testing Times
Athletes were found playing cat and mouse in between virus and the vaccine. To create a safe environment with 11,500 athletes at the games, the IOC announced last month that Pfizer and BioNTech would be donating vaccines to athletes pre-departure. Such was the protocol encouraged, not a requirement.
Athletes were also expected to take a test every day of their stay in the village. An app was expected to be downloaded that monitored their location for contact tracing. Along with that they had to bare the brunt of nursing a mask at all periods unless eating, drinking, sleeping, training or competing.
Staging the games during such testing times hasn't been a walk in the park, yet credit needs to be given to the organisers for transforming the cathedral of sporting events into a fruitful success.