It was an Olympics like no other. As the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe and measures were taken to reduce infections, the world’s most famous and most watched sporting event had to adapt to the challenges of the pandemic. The organizers worked with partners to break the barriers and ensure the event ran safely and smoothly.

The Alibaba Group, the Worldwide TOP Partner of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), supports the IOC in overcoming the challenges and transforming the Olympic Games into the digital age. As the digital technology and intelligence backbone of the Alibaba Group and official cloud services partner of the IOC, Alibaba Cloud offers first-class infrastructure and cloud services so that the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo can make digitization more efficient, more effective, safer and more appealing for fans , Broadcasters and athletes.

A revolution in sports television

Traditionally, the Olympic broadcasters could only get their equipment on arrival on International Broadcasting Center (IBC) in the host city, and the physical space for the on-site transmitters has always been in high demand.

Thanks to Alibaba Cloud, the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020 turned out to be a game changer for the broadcasters. In collaboration with Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), Alibaba’s cloud solutions supported service delivery for Rights-Holding Broadcasters (RHBs) for the first time during Tokyo 2020.

Building on the robust and secure platform of Alibaba Cloud, OBS Cloud offers new models for the delivery of content that increase operational efficiency and greater agility. OBS Cloud, an innovative broadcasting solution brought together by OBS and Alibaba and operated entirely in the cloud, aims to help transform the media industry for the digital age.

Using Alibaba’s Content + technologies, OBS’s content delivery platform has now been fully migrated to the cloud to provide short-form content, content asset management and content production.

Provision of content in short form: During Tokyo 2020, between 7,000 and 9,000 short-form content clips should be produced by the OBS Content + crew to improve RHB coverage. Seventeen RHB organizations and four news agencies subscribed to the full service of receiving these clips via a user-friendly web-based interface. The thousands of clips are available to the RHB’s digital and social media teams from anywhere in the world to supplement their own Olympic coverage.

Content asset management: Via Content +, RHBs were able to access all Olympic content produced by OBS, including live content during production. Thirty-one RHB organizations have signed up for this comprehensive service to allow them to browse the low resolution files in near real time and access all content in their worldwide facilities. Access to live coverage allowed RHBs to tag some of the live content and download it for their own post-production needs while the games were taking place at the same time.

Content creation: As part of the post production workflow, OBS uses the Content + platform for remote editing and standard conversion; a feature that will be expanded as a service to the RHBs for future Olympic Games.

In addition, two RHBs received a live distribution of Ultra High Definition (UHD), High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Internet Protocol Video and Audio packages during Tokyo 2020, enabling them to deliver 4K content to their viewers.

Cloud-based technology solution to reduce the risk of heat stroke

Alibaba Group also announced a new cloud-based solution to help Tokyo Olympics staff reduce the risk of summer heat stroke in Tokyo.

Using a smart device worn on the ear, the technology helped track the body temperature and heart rate of Olympic employees on site in Tokyo. Based on body temperature, heart rate and environmental index, a cloud-based system determined the level of heat stroke risk for individual workers in real time.

Alerts could then be sent to those at high risk, along with recommended precautions – such as drinking more water – to reduce the chance of heat stroke. The heat index in the surrounding area, including temperature, humidity, and direct or radiant sunlight, was monitored by several Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) heat exposure meters installed at 14 Olympic venues.

Digital pin to encourage interaction in a safe way

The Alibaba Cloud Pin, a cloud-based digital pin, was introduced to allow broadcast and media professionals working at the International Broadcasting Center (IBC) and Main Press Center (MPC) to connect with one another and share social Share media contact information in a secure and interactive manner during the Olympics.

The pin can either be worn as a badge or attached to a lanyard. The pin serves as a multifunctional digital name tag and allows users to meet and say hello, add people to their “friends list” and share daily activity updates such as step counts and the number of friends they met during the day. This can easily be done by tapping the pins together at arm’s length, taking into account social distancing measures.

For media professionals who couldn’t make it to Tokyo, the “Press Conference in the Cloud” was a media service in the cloud to watch and download the press conference videos during the Olympic Games. The service includes video editing, audio / video editing and livestream / VOD distribution as well as the video download function.

The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo were a transformative moment for athletes and sports fans thanks to cloud-based technology. Tokyo 2020 is just the beginning of the journey. Alibaba Cloud is excited about the possibilities cloud technologies bring to future games and other major sporting events.

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