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Rio 2016 Games at the forefront of technological innovation in sport

With so many eyes glued to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, it was crucial for more than just the athletes to show outstanding performance. Integral to its smooth running is the advancement in technology, helping not only the viewer experience, but also the accuracy of the games’ results.


Although seemingly a sport lacking the involvement of technology at face value, its contribution is hoped to benefit Volleyball greatly this year. Players will have the ability to dispute decisions by the referee, and consult a secondary referee who has access to television footage of the game. To keep tension high, crowds of spectators will also be able to watch the replayed footage. This should enable a fairer, more precise, decision to be made during each match.


It is an unneeded distraction for swimmers to keep count of laps during the event, and diverts much needed focus from their race. Omega have tried to rectify this problem, by installing digital lap counters into each lane of the Olympic pools, taking the chore away from swimmers. It is able to monitor each lap by using touchpads set into the wall of the pool.

Canoe sprint and Rowing

One type of event that can be hard to track is vessel events – they are required to cover a great distance which is difficult to follow from land. This year, GPS will enable viewers to closely follow boats in both events, and will update them on data such as speed and direction.


Archery is introducing an electronic scoring system, allowing the score to be shown almost instantly, and identifies the point of the arrow in the target within a 0.2mm accuracy. This benefits both the participant, as they get a more exact score, and the audience, who are able to instantly know the score.


The scoring system of shooting has been advanced, integrating laser technology in place of the acoustic system originally in use. Also, to alleviate safety concerns, each gun is being fitted with Radio-frequency identification tags, so security were able to track them at all times during the games.


A new type of camera dolly will follow a competitor’s every move on the platform. This gives a more immersive experience to those watching at home, as all angles of coverage are covered.

Olympic Broadcasting Service

The Olympic Broadcasting Service showed a high-definition of the opening and closing Rio ceremonies in virtual reality, as well as one selected event a day. In the lead up to the Olympics, Samsung created a 360 degree reality film, Vanuatu Dreams, which following two beach volleyball players in their attempts at qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympics. This was experienced by using Samsung’s specially designed VR glasses, and showed that more innovative ways of experiencing the games were in demand.

Contactless payment

Technology can often bring about a more convenient, easier and quicker option for users, and this is certainly the case with contactless payment. But, Visa, in partnership with Brazilian bank Bradesco, has taken this a step further by introducing a bracelet that acts like a contactless card. All 4,000 payment points across the venues were able to accept such devices from visitors. Also, all 45 athletes that are sponsored by Visa got a payment ring – spectacularly not requiring batteries, recharging and are water resistant to a depth of 50 metres.

IT services

Atos, the official IT partners of the games, are trying to minimise the company’s carbon footprint this year by migrating many of its operations to the cloud. In the London 2012 Olympics, Atos used 719 services, and hoped to decrease this number to a mere 250 from the 2016 games.

Any views or opinions expressed in this briefing are for guidance only and are not intended as a substitute for appropriate professional guidance. We have taken all reasonable steps to ensure the information contained herein is accurate at the time of writing but it should not be regarded as a complete or authoritative statement of law.