OMEGA, the Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games, will bring revolutionary technology to the Tokyo 2021 event

By Nicky Morris | 14 Jul 2021 | Sport, Technology

The Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games, OMEGA, will provide a whole new understanding of how athletes compete at the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games with incredibly precise and innovative technology.

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OMEGA, the Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games, will bring almost 90 years of experience to Tokyo 2021.

Having occupied this position on 29 occasions since 1932, OMEGA has created the world’s most advanced timekeeping technology and will bring brand new equipment to Japan this year.

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* The 1964 Olympic Games

Since the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, where a single OMEGA watchmaker travelled from Bienne to LA with 30 high-precision stopwatches, OMEGA has led the evolution of timekeeping technology. 

From the first photo finish camera in 1948 to the first false start detection device in 1984, OMEGA has consistently provided the prestigious sporting event with exceptional state-of-the-art technology. 

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* OMEGA at the 1964 Olympics

CEO of OMEGA Timing Alain Zobrist recalls an occasion where timekeeping technology was essential to determining the outcome of a swimming race. 

“In 2008, in the race between Milorad Cavic and Michael Phelps, Phelps won by one one hundredth of a second. Phelps threw the last stroke and hit the wall, whereby Cavic was gliding to it.

It was very clear with our timing equipment who won the race, but that difference could not be seen with the naked eye, ” says Zobrist. 

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Timekeeping Equipment 

Here are some of OMEGA’s timekeeping systems and sport-specific technology that you are likely to see at the Games this year. 

Electronic starting pistol

OMEGA’s electronic pistols are connected to speakers positioned behind each racer. When the trigger is pressed, a sound is “played”, a light flash is emitted and a start pulse is given to the timing device.

This system ensures that all athletes hear the pistol at the same time, giving all competitors an equal start. 

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Athletics starting blocks 

With integrated speakers and built-in sensors that measure an athlete’s force against the footrest 4,000 times per second, these starting blocks send force measurements to an on-site computer so that any false starts can be detected. 

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Scan’O’Vision MYRIA

The most advanced photo finish camera in OMEGA’s history, the Scan’O’Vision MYRIA is able to record up to 10,000 digital images per second, producing a composite photo that enables judges to determine the official rankings and times of each event.

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NEW TECHNOLOGY FOR TOKYO 2021

As well as providing 400 tonnes of its most trusted equipment, the brand will put to use its revolutionary timekeeping technology at an event dubbed “the biggest Games in history” for timing technology by Alain Zobrist. 

“You have to imagine that we're going to send 400 tonnes of equipment, and 530 timekeepers to all sports venues to measure all the results of all participating athletes,” says Zobrist. 

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“We invent, develop, industrialise, produce and test all of the equipment ourselves. This is very important in order to guarantee the quality of our services, and all our timing devices are being certified and checked. 

“So we're not leaving any stone unturned in order to guarantee the quality of service delivery as a timekeeper, ” Zobrist adds. 

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With the use of motion sensing and positioning systems, a comprehensive range of real-time
data will be collected, giving everyone a total understanding of how each event was won.

The data will show exactly how an athlete reached their final time and result, providing useful information for athletes and coaches as well as giving spectators further insight into the sport.