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Atos pays more to deliver ‘most complex IT contract in sports’ through Paris 2024

(Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

The four-year extension to the International Olympic Committee’s TOP sponsorship with technology partner Atos – starting after the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games – was contracted at an increase on the previous deal, SportBusiness understands.

The extension, which ends in December 2024, was agreed without an open tender, since the previous agreement – made in 2013, and running from 2014 to 2020 – included an option for another four years. This gave Atos first right to discuss and negotiate the deal.

The next open tender for the technology category will be after Paris 2024, and will include the Milan-Cortina 2026 Winter Games and Los Angeles 2028 Summer Games.

According to industry experts, the new deal is estimated to be worth between $150m (€127.5m) and $200m for the quadrennial cycle. It covers the Beijing 2022 Winter Games and Paris 2024 Summer Games.

The deal value reflects the smaller premium placed on a short-term extension of a legacy deal compared to longer extensions over two or three quadrennials.

Legacy sponsors have a long-term association with the Games and are often integral to the Games operation, such as the official timekeeper Omega and payment services brand Visa. Both Omega and Visa have extended for 12 years after Tokyo 2020 (until 2032).

Given the technology provision required for the Games – the IOC contract covers all IT infrastructure needs at the Olympics – most of the Atos deal is paid in value in kind.

The Atos category is ‘Integration services & system management, application development services and IT consulting’. Atos also operates IT security for the IOC, but not for the Games, and is responsible for making is own applications and technology secure.

Extension negotiation

The nature of the Olympic contract – described by Patrick Adiba, the chief executive of Olympic Games and major events at Atos, as “the most complex IT contract in sports” – meant that negotiations involved at least nine key individuals from the IOC and brand-side.

On the IOC Partnership side, the deal involved Timo Lumme, managing director IOC TMS, Christian Voigt, vice-president, marketing development at IOC TMS and Dominic Wolz, head of business development.

On the IOC technology side, it involved Gerry Pennell, chief information and technology officer, John Paul Giancarlo, associate director of games technology and Frederic Wokciechowski, head of Summer Games, technology and information department.

On the Atos side, the main decision-makers were Adiba, who also acts as senior executive vice-president, head of unified communication and collaboration at Atos, and Victoria Erice Alonso, marketing and communication officer, Olympics and major events at Atos.

Both parties declined to comment on the value of the Atos deal.

Key role in keeping costs in check

According to Voigt, the TOP contract addresses five main areas:  Integrating IT systems; accreditation management; security; diffusion of official results on the official apps and website; and the provision of athlete biographies to the media.

Atos was also the provider of cloud technology at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games, however this was not called out in the category description and was done privately using Atos cloud systems.

For the cloud category going forward, Atos will step aside to allow TOP Partner Alibaba to provide cloud infrastructure from Beijing 2022. SportBusiness understands that the impact on the Atos rights fee is small and the core five technology areas are most important to the IOC.

Voigt said the challenge for the IT partner is not just technology provision, but the integration with so many partners, such as Omega. Atos manages and provides data protection for about 30 technology companies involved in the delivery of the Olympics, all through the one central IOC contract.

“In Tokyo, the integration with Panasonic and NEC around security access, and the inclusion of technology on facial recognition will deliver a really significant improvement,” said Voigt, who also highlighted Atos’ work with the volunteer portal, which can process 200,000 volunteer applications in Tokyo and is “key to keep the costs in check and part of the IOC’s commitment to reduce the complexity of the Olympic Games.”

Importance to Atos

For Atos, Adiba said the long-term association with the Olympics was important to the brand, firstly because it acted as a “fantastic showcase” of how Atos sets up, delivers and secures a sizeable complex project.

Secondly, it works as an internal motivator and retention tool for Atos employees, as well as a recruitment agent to attract and train the best talent from universities.

Thirdly, it helps Atos sell products and services to similar multi-sports events like the Pan-American Games and the Asian Games.

The Games Operating Centre at each host city is branded by Atos, but these branding rights are of minimal value compared to the business-to-business or business-to-government showcase rights.

Adiba said: “By far the most important thing is that it’s a business accelerator; you can explain to customers what you do in terms of a security system for a mission critical event and manage to protect the Games so, even if the customer doesn’t know Atos, we are immediately credible for a manufacturing company or a government, and for new and existing customers.”

The task entails long-term planning for each Games and a constant re-evaluation from Games-to-Games based on technology evolution.

He continued: “Setting up the Olympic IT infrastructure and systems is the equivalent of doing so for a 300,000-person company with four billion customers, and we have to be flexible to change. In London 2012, the access to system was done 30 per cent on mobile devices, whereas previously in Beijing 2008 it was one per cent – all done on fixed terminals – now it’s almost 100 per cent.”

Going forward, Atos will also play a major part in the IOC’s plan to deliver the Games remotely, where possible, to create cost efficiencies.

“We started to deliver the Games remotely during Rio, which was the first step towards fully-digitised games. There were 5,000 people working in the IT team in London, there will be 2,000 in Tokyo.

“We now have central control in Barcelona and testing centre in Madrid, plus infrastructure, including cloud infrastructure and disaster recovery, in various locations to make sure we ensure quality of delivery and business continuity.”