Tokyo 2020 Olympics to use facial recognition in security first

Tokyo 2020 will be the first Olympics to deploy facial recognition technology to increase security around all venues, organizers announced on Tuesday.

Reuters reports that Olympics organizers are partnering with NEC, a Japanese telecommunications and information technology firm, to develop the first system of this kind to be implemented at the global sporting event.

The technology was demonstrated for the media at an event this week in Tokyo and will use IC chips within identification cards to automatically verify the identity of those entering over 40 venues, according to the wire service.

In order to facilitate the technology, more than 300,000 athletes and Games staff will need to submit photographs to a database before the Olympics start in July 2020.

facial recognition 2 reuters

NEC Red Rockets’ volleyball player Haruyo Shimamura demonstrates the face recognition system for Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, which is developed by NEC corp, in Tokyo, Japan, August 7, 2018.  (Reuters)

“Every time they enter the facility, they have to do a security check,” Tokyo 2020’s head of security Tsuyoshi Iwashita explained.

The facial recognition system will not, however, be aimed at spectators.

“Tokyo’s venues doesn’t always have enough space for the security check or even space to wait for the security check. When the events are happening, we expect many people to come and the weather will be very hot. This is why we introduced this facial recognition,” Iwashita added.

The technology was reportedly tested during the Rio 2016 Olympics.

“99.7 percent of the time, the face is recognized by the system correctly,” said NEC vice president Masaaki Suanuma.

Christopher Carbone is a reporter and news editor covering science and technology for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @christocarbone.

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