HomeNewsSponsorship & MarketingMulti-SportGlobal

Atos extends with IOC until Paris 2024, but may face competition for LA 2028

IOC president Thomas Bach speaks after the historic decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games (by DENIS BALIBOUSE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

IT firm Atos has extended its Worldwide Olympic Partnership deal with the International Olympic Committee for four years, until the end of 2024, guaranteeing continuity in the operations technology underpinning the Olympic Games.

Atos’s previous deal was to expire after Tokyo 2020. The extension covers the rescheduled Tokyo Games next year, the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, and the Paralympics and Youth Olympics in the 2021-24 period.

Atos has been a partner of the Olympics since 1989, when it agreed to provide services for the Barcelona 1992 organising committee. It became the Olympics’ Worldwide Information Technology Partner – its current designation – in 2001.

Worldwide Olympic Partnership is the IOC’s top tier of sponsorship, with companies in the tier also referred to as its ‘TOP partners’.

Former IOC marketing chief Michael Payne, who worked with the earlier manifestation of the Atos brand, Sema Group, at the 1992 Barcelona Games, told SportBusiness that continuity of the technology operation was key for the IOC.

“Atos is such a key element of the technology back-of-operations for the Games and the transition from Games-to-Games,” he said. “The renewal essentially keeps things simple, not turning everything on its head before Paris, which will have tried and tested systems that work.

“It will be interesting, however, to see whether there will be any significant technological changes or evolutions for LA in 2028, and at what stage the IOC may feel it needs to make a quantum leap in terms of technology.

“LA has made it clear that they want to be part of leap into the future and the IOC has put RFIs (request for information) out in the industry to look at the future. These will eventually go to RFP’s (request for proposals), with Atos in strong contention.”

Payne said that stability in the technology operation became a priority after IBM took over the role as a TOP sponsor at the Atlanta Games in 1996. The resulting change of software and infrastructure, says Payne, was “disastrous” and though IBM returned to deliver the technology for the Sydney Games in 2000, the provision “cost a fortune” and “didn’t work properly”.

It was at that point that the IOC went back to Sema Group, which was sold on to Atos Origin in 2004.

Under the new deal, the IOC said Atos will “further support the digital transformation of the Olympic Games as the lead integrator for technology and…keep fulfilling its role in securing the IT infrastructure for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and Olympic Games Paris 2024”.

Atos’s support for Tokyo 2020 includes providing systems to manage accreditations, athlete entries for events, the online volunteer portal, the competition schedule, workforce management, and IOC Athletes’ Commission voting.

The company will also handle the delivery of official competition results to the Games’ website and app, and will provide media with biographies of athletes and other background information.

Welcoming the deal, IOC president Thomas Bach, said: “In these unprecedented times, the support and confidence of our Worldwide Partners is now more important than ever. In line with Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC’s strategic roadmap for the future, we are pleased to continue working with Atos, our trusted guide in a period of great digital transformation, to provide the digital backbone and key digital platforms we rely on to run the Games.”

Paris-based Atos describes itself as “a global leader in digital transformation”. It has 110,000 employees in 73 countries, and had annual revenue of €12bn ($13.5bn) in 2019. It provides services in areas including cloud computing, cybersecurity, high-performance computing, big data, and digital workplace solutions.

Additional reporting by Matthew Glendinning.