After almost six years of planning and construction, the Tokyo Aquatics Centre in Tatsumi, Tokyo was officially completed in February 2020. It is now the stage for the Tokyo 2020 Games’ aquatic events in Tokyo. As the decades-long official audio-visual and broadcasting equipment sponsor of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Panasonic was put in charge of the entire AV and display system of the facility. Let’s dive into the technologies Panasonic installed and explore how they’re being utilized to create the ultimate spectator experience.
Creating an Exciting Arena Atmosphere Through Cutting-Edge AV and Display Technology
Panasonic’s comprehensive array of cameras means that every angle is covered. During the race, four integrated cameras mounted on the ceiling can fully immerse those in the arena in the competition with crisp, 4K footage of the athletes showing off their skills in real-time. Panasonic has also provided a portable studio camera to witness in full HD those exciting close-up moments when athletes steel their nerves before a race or smile in glee as they accept their award. This wealth of footage is deftly managed from the control room, outfitted with top-of-the-line live video switchers with portable control panels that allow for maximum functionality and a dynamic viewing experience that includes adding text captions and projecting competition results onto the facility’s screens.
This wealth of technology doesn’t just help those watching the broadcasts from home; it enhances the experience for those in the stadium as well. Taking inspiration from the Hamdan Sports Complex in Dubai, three large-scale LED screens, 10 meters in length, are installed in the main arena. Two of these screens are suspended from the center and face the spectators, providing exciting real-time footage in incredibly high resolution (with a pitch of 8 mm). The screens meet global standards for waterproofing (IP65)—a must considering the environment—and also offer stunning contrast, thanks to Panasonic innovations that allow for a truly immersive, high-quality viewing experience even in sun-bathed viewing environments. The third screen is at the end of the arena, placed at the right height for the competitors to easily look up and check their times the moment they finish. A similar screen can be found in the complex’s sub-arena for a total of four screens overall.
A Vast and Challenging Project
The construction project began in 2017 under the aegis of the Japan Swimming Federation. For the Panasonic team managing the installations, the learning curve was steep. The enormous stakes, tight deadlines, and tendency for new installations to run into trouble initially meant there was a steady list of challenges every day. Easily the most formidable task the team encountered was the installation of the 20-ton screens in the main arena to the ceiling, as it had to be done on a very tight schedule. The whole apparatus also needed to be clad in iron to prevent corrosion from the chlorine in the pool water.
This arduous construction phase ended with the official opening of the Tokyo Aquatics Centre in February 2020, but Panasonic is not letting its guard down quite yet. All the equipment will first have to prove itself and run smoothly throughout the aquatic events. Only afterwards will the team have arrived at their own finish line. Then, at last, it will be time for congratulations.
Panasonic has managed to deliver an AV and display setup for the Tokyo Aquatics Centre that meets the highest global technological standards for aquatics stadiums. As the Olympic swimmers are seeing first-hand, Panasonic’s setup is marking a new frontier in live sports viewing experiences.