The flame is extinguished and the
flags furled, yet the spirit of the
Olympics lives on through the work of
those preparing for the upcoming
But it’s not just the athletes getting
Project managers are studying up on
all the lessons learned from those who
planned and managed this summer’s
spectacle in Beijing, China.
“The success of each Olympic
Games relies and depends on knowledge and experience being transferred
from previous games,” says Jeremy
Hore, chief technology integrator for
Atos Origin, Paris, France.
The company has plenty of experience to tap into. Since the 2004
Olympics in Athens, Greece, the tech
giant has managed the IT system used
at the games to relay information on
the events, results and individual competitors to spectators and media
around the world. And Atos’ contract
with the International Olympic
Committee (IOC) extends to the
2012 event in London, England.
For the 2008 games, Mr. Hore
teamed up with the Beijing
Organizing Committee (BOCOG)
and a consortium of tech providers
that included Chinese managers who
had worked at previous games.
The experience paid off. For example, although the scale of the Beijing
IT infrastructure was similar to the
2004 games, the IT team processed 80
percent more competition data for
media and news agencies worldwide.
Beijing also saw the first delivery of
real-time results through an Olympic
Games intranet that could be accessed
remotely. The team then set up 2,500
terminals across the Olympic venues
where members of the public could
tap into the service.
Because Olympic IT involves integrating the technologies of both
multinationals and national companies, cultural differences that translate
to the way companies conduct busi-
ness can create hurdles that even the
most talented track star would find
difficult to clear.
“It is challenging to keep everyone
working under the same framework,”
Mr. Hore says. “However it helps that
the goal is very well-defined and
all partners want the games to be a
It also helps that the IOC is making it a point to foster knowledge-sharing between current and pending
host cities. Future organizing committees were given access to the Beijing
games—before and during the events.
And this year, in conjunction with
roughly 20 international sports federations, the IOC took a further step
toward encouraging cross-fertilization
by arranging an October summit of
host cities in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The conference brought together representatives of 30 cities that have hosted, will host or wish to host the
Olympic or Youth Olympic Games.
Each Olympic site presents its own
unique circumstances, of course. The
team working on the 2010 games in
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada, for example, will be challenged by hostile weather conditions
at high-altitude locations. In London,
shorter distances between sport venues
may ease travel concerns but create
space constraints. Still, experience
gleaned from one location can be used
as part of the plan for another.
Paul May, head of venue development for The London Organising
Committee of the Olympic and
Paralympic Games (LOCOG), says he
was impressed by the sophistication of
the Beijing operation in areas such as
transportation, logistics, staffing and
Armed with the experience of seeing Beijing’s venues first-hand, Mr.
May has identified issues to focus on
for London 2012. One obvious issue:
the condensed urban environs. “We