3 Ways Critical Event Management Is Keeping Athletes Safe in Tokyo this Summer

The world’s most beloved athletic competition is underway. A year later than originally planned, thousands of people have converged in Tokyo, ready to take part in the Summer Games.

The massive scale of this international event raises the level of risk for everyone involved. Authorities have a multitude of people to protect and much ground to cover. Although spectators have been banned from attending, 11,500 athletes along with 79,000 officials, journalists and support staff have arrived in Japan for the Games.

Adding to the challenge is the wide geographic spread. Competitions are taking place in 28 venues around Tokyo, and some require travel. The farthest events are the marathons in Sapporo (500 miles from Tokyo). Cyclists will race in the shadows of Mount Fuji (62 miles west), and surfers will compete for the first time at the games at Tsurigasaki Beach (62 miles east).

Not surprisingly, an event of this size invites complexity. Law enforcement, health officials and private security teams will have to navigate a varied threat landscape that already includes severe heat and the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before the opening ceremony, several participating teams reported positive COVID tests, and Japan’s weather service issued heat-stroke warnings as temperatures in Tokyo rose to 33.1 Celsius. Potential critical events such as terrorism and cyber-attacks are also on the radar of officials.

This year, critical event management (CEM) is playing a crucial role in minimizing these perils. Organizers have crisis management plans in place, and technology is helping users to identify threats and notify the right people with the right message at the right time. For instance, OnSolve and its partners are working with teams and others to keep athletes safe and informed.

How do CEM practices and technologies combat multiple threats on multiple fronts? A critical event management platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI) quickly sifts through data from multiple sources and provides relevant risk intelligence. With incident management capabilities, officials can activate the right response teams and resolve disruptions like IT outages faster. Finally, with critical communications, they can rapidly warn anyone in an impacted area via text, voice and email – and tell them how to stay safe. With these capabilities integrated into a single platform, such responses can happen in real time.

In fact, the scalability of the modern CEM platform makes it an ideal resource for protecting people, places and property this summer. Let’s dive into the role CEM is playing to keep three hot-button critical events under control: the COVID-19 pandemic, the heat and the threat of cyber-attacks and terrorism.

1. Help Contain COVID-19

Tracking COVID-19 hotspots in Tokyo and at the various locations of the Games is a demanding task, yet it’s crucial for keeping athletes safe. The advantage of an AI-enabled CEM platform is that it constantly scans for flare-ups, collecting and processing data from hyperlocal sources throughout the theater of events, doing in minutes what it would take humans hours or days to achieve. Risk intelligence monitors data feeds and then delivers relevant actionable intelligence.

Once a hotspot is identified, the control center can then use the platform’s critical communications capabilities to alert the public via mobile app or text. Athletes and other recipients will receive messages telling them what areas to avoid. Or, if they’re already within the perimeter, they’ll receive instructions about what to do next.

Additionally, authorities can execute crisis plans with the platform’s incident management capabilities.

2. Avoid Heat-Related Health Issues

Summer in Tokyo means blistering heat, a danger to both athletes and staff. As recently as 2018, an extreme heatwave caused a surge in heat-related deaths in Japan.

With AI-enabled CEM, organizers have the ability to closely track weather events. Regional and local data from trusted sources, such as Japan’s weather bureau, is collected. Using risk intelligence, security teams will monitor forecasts for predictions of dangerous heatwaves and other severe weather events. In real time, they’ll also track the temperature and humidity and, using critical communications capabilities, quickly deliver messages about those dangers to participants and medical personnel to prevent heat injuries. Outdoor venues at the Games have been equipped with shelters, water supplies, misting tents and medical personnel to help anyone who suffers heatstroke or dehydration.

3. Mitigate Risk of Cyber-Attacks and Terrorism

Although international competitions have been a target of cyber-attacks since 2016, organizers and security are well-prepared for cyber-attacks with hardened IT infrastructures, data redundancy and contingency plans. Analysts on security teams will continuously monitor for breaches using real-time intelligence displayed on their CEM platform’s dashboard.

Should they detect an issue, they’ll use IT alerting or incident management capabilities to instantly contact available IT security personnel and execute contingency plans via mobile app, which can be adapted in real time as more facts become known.

Authorities and venue security teams also will be on high alert for domestic terrorists. Risk intelligence will continuously update crisis teams with relevant intelligence from social media and the dark web. Should an attack occur, the security operations will use that intelligence to pinpoint the location and identify suspects, alert at-risk parties via its critical communications system and distribute counterterrorism plans via mobile app backed up by satellite radio.

Protecting a large-scale event can seem overwhelming – almost too big a challenge. But as any medal-winning athlete will tell you, success is all about being prepared. A modern CEM platform will provide you with the speed, relevancy and usability you need to come out on top.


OnSolve® proactively mitigates physical threats, allowing organizations to remain agile when a crisis strikes. Using trusted expertise and reliable AI-powered risk intelligence, critical communications and incident management technology, the OnSolve Platform allows organizations to detect, anticipate and mitigate physical threats that impact their people and operations.