‘We can’t be wrong’: Timing at the Olympics is a colossal undertaking

BEIJING (NEXSTAR) — There are three things you need for sports competitions: athletes, a venue, and someone to keep score or keep time. For the Olympics, the timing group spends three years before the start of each Games, making sure everything is accurate.

Omega has 300 timekeepers here in Beijing with 200 tonnes of equipment spread over three zones. The goal is to make things as fair and quick as possible.

Timing games is a colossal undertaking. But for Omega, that’s what they’ve been doing since 1932. And the stakes are incredibly high.

“We can’t make mistakes,” says Alain Zobrist, CEO of Omega Timing.

Their technology determines who gets gold, silver or bronze.

“We have photo-finish cameras that take 10,000 frames per second of the finish line.”

And as you can imagine, technology has changed a lot in the 90 years they’ve been timing games.

“For the first time, judges have the ability to look at technology to help them make the right choices for false starts,” says Zobrist.

In figure skating, they use artificial intelligence to track athletes on the ice.

“Where athletes spend the most time on the ice, we can measure their jumps and analyze them in detail. How high they jumped, how far they jumped, how fast they jumped and how they turned and all of this information can be provided to the viewers.

Every sport is different and presents its own challenges. But the objective is always the same, to ensure that the good athletes win gold, silver and bronze.