Atlanta 1996

Behind the Scenes at the Olympic Games

Behind the Scenes at the Olympic Games Digital Broadcast System:
The Build-Out of the IBC, the First Such Major Undertaking by a Japanese Company

Photo: Performers gathered in the shape of the Olympic rings and the number "100" on the stadium's ground at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games Atlanta 1996

As official supplier of audiovisual equipment such as ASTROVISION, Panasonic supported the Olympic Games Atlanta 1996 that commemorated the centennial of the modern Olympic Games. Moreover, as the first Japanese corporation to become the prime contractor to the Olympic host broadcasting system, Panasonic took on a major and unfamiliar undertaking: design, build-out, and maintenance of the IBC (International Broadcast Centre), known as “the world's largest broadcasting station.” Panasonic staff commenced discussions in Atlanta two years ahead of the Games, in order to design a system for transmission of high-quality footage under all conditions, and select locally-available equipment.

The Opening Ceremony, the Highlight of Olympic Games Broadcasting

Even for Panasonic staff who had a wealth of Olympic Games experience, the Olympic Games Atlanta 1996 presented a series of challenges. As negotiations progressed and proposals were realized, Panasonic deepened their relationship with the local broadcasting staff. Eventually, Panasonic staff started to overhear repeated concerns: “Can Panasonic pull off the Opening Ceremony?”

Photo: Installation works prior to the Olympic Games Atlanta 1996 opening ceremony

Throughout the Games, competitions are held somewhere everyday. For these, even if the event broadcast is cut off, the mishap can be remedied with on-site backup tapes or cutting to another event. However, the Opening Ceremony at the start of the Games is the only event happening at that particular time and place.
On the day of the Opening Ceremony, the giant ASTROVISION in the Olympic Stadium vividly displayed the opening scene of the commemorative event. The event reached a climax in front of a massive stadium crowd of 83,000 and 3.5 billion TV viewers across 214 countries and regions.

Photo: Several workers installing cables as part of the preparations prior to the Olympic Games Atlanta 1996 opening ceremony

A Production Worthy of the Centennial Olympic Games

In the dimly lit stadium, a white screen emerged, made up of 9,100 people holding up white poster boards. Projected there was the Lincoln Memorial speech given by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Atlanta-born black leader. King's voice echoed quietly but clearly through the stadium, resounding America's most famous and historic speech, “I Have a Dream.” This message, aimed at posterity, was worthy of marking the centennial of the Olympic Games, as well it represented the feelings of the Panasonic staff who overcame various challenges to bring the Games to fruition.

Photo: Inspection of the stadium prior to the Olympic Games Atlanta 1996 opening ceremony