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Digital Tools Go for Gold at Paris Summer Olympics

2024 Paris Olympics

As the 100-day countdown to the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games begins, anticipation is not just limited to the athletic feats but also the digital innovations poised to shape the spectator experience. 

With consumers more connected than ever and a significant portion of the audience expected to be digital natives, organizers are leveraging technology to elevate athlete and fan engagement throughout the four-week event from July 26 to August 11.

In a discussion with Orange, the official telecommunications partner for the Olympics, Bruno Marie-Rose, the chief information and technology officer (CITO) of the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee, highlighted the digital overhaul underway for games, including 100% digital ticketing, real-time broadcasting of press photos and over-the-top (OTT) broadcasting to stream images from each competition venue.

“On the organizational side, we are also going to switch from old walkie-talkie technologies to digital push-to-talk. And we are setting up 3D imaging to help train volunteers,” Marie-Rose said. 

5G technology is also promising to enhance accessibility, offering spectators high-speed video streaming and low-latency connectivity across competition sites. 5G networks will play a particularly key role at the opening ceremony, which, unlike the traditional stadium parade, will see athletes parading a 6-km stretch of the Seine River in boats. 

“To provide immersive video to spectators around the world, we’ll have to position cameras on each boat and transmit the footage using Orange’s private 5G,” Marie-Rose said, sidestepping logistical challenges of traditional cable connections. 

AI Takes Center Stage

Artificial intelligence (AI) is set to command the spotlight at the Olympics, offering personalized experiences and enhancing entertainment value for fans. And given the fact that PYMNTS Intelligence research has found significant consumer interest in AI-enhanced entertainment, especially among Generation Z, its integration into the Olympic experience holds immense potential for captivating audiences.

On Wednesday (April 17), Intel, the official worldwide AI platform partner of the Olympics, unveiled AI-driven solutions, promising “next-generation engagement” for fans, athletes and viewers worldwide.

AI implementations include using computer vision to offer insights into athletic drills as well as facilitating accessibility for visually impaired individuals through indoor and voice navigation via smartphone apps. 

“This summer, Intel will accelerate its mission of bringing AI Everywhere using Intel solutions at Paris 2024, showcasing the powerful potential of technology and AI to create immersive and interactive experiences […] for millions around the world,” Sarah Vickers, head of Intel’s Olympic and Paralympic Games Office, said in a press release.

Another compelling prospect this year is the potential adoption of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed-reality (MR) technologies, allowing fans worldwide to immerse themselves in the heart of the Olympic action from their living rooms.

While AR enriches the spectator experience by overlaying digital information onto physical surroundings, VR provides a 360-degree immersive view of Olympic venues, elevating fan engagement to unprecedented levels.

The recent launch of Meta’s Quest 3 and Apple’s Vision Pro further enhances the immersive potential of this year’s Olympics, making digital experiences more rewarding and multi-dimensional.

However, amid the buzz surrounding digital transformation, concerns linger over the effectiveness of the anti-drone shield deployed for the event. With an estimated three million drones in France, the threat of potential attacks looms large, casting doubts on current security measures. 

French President Emmanuel Macron recently acknowledged this concern, stating that if deemed too risky, Paris may consider scrapping the planned opening ceremony on the Seine.

Nevertheless, the 2024 Paris Olympics are poised to set new benchmarks for fan engagement through implementation of digital technologies such as 5G, AI and mixed reality. And with digital natives increasingly dominating the audience segment, these innovations can help the Olympics remain relevant and engaging in the digital age, fostering a sense of global connectivity among fans worldwide.