As the first Games to run completely on the cloud, the event’s tremendous success is a showcase of sportsmanship and inclusivity.

The Beijing Olympic Games offered the most immersive and exciting glimpse into the virtualised future of Olympic broadcasting this year.

Apart from connecting and engaging global audiences to amazing sporting milestones during the 17-day event, a host of digital innovations from a life-like virtual influencer to real-time communication, holographic technologies made its debut – giving us insights into how new and innovative touchpoints could excite worldwide audiences.

Setting the benchmark for future efficient and inclusive Olympic Games

The IOC and the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (BOCOG) executed a master plan for the Olympic Winter Games. It includes the implementation of key operational systems delivered by the IOC’s Worldwide IT Partner Atos, such as the Games Management Systems (GMS), Olympics Management Systems (OMS) and Olympics Distribution Systems (ODS). These have all been migrated to Alibaba’s cloud infrastructure.

Taking advantage of the scalability and reliability of the cloud infrastructure, the IOC was able to reduce the complexity of game planning based on intelligence-driven decisions. These technologies were also part and parcel of making sure that the Games reached every corner of the world, with no room for lags, delays, buffering or other digital glitches that could arise in an event of this scale.

Said Jeff Zhang, President, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence: “The Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 will not just be remembered by the excitement and the phenomenal achievements brought by the athletes from across the world, but also for the new benchmarks it had set for driving a more efficient, sustainable and inclusive Olympic Games. We are proud to be supporting the digitalization of the Olympic Games, and we hope our experience in hosting Beijing 2022’s core operating systems on Alibaba Cloud will be passed on to future sporting events.”

Bringing the world closer together with Cloud technology

While Alibaba Cloud provided the global platform on which to reach out to the world, many other cloud-driven technologies from the technology giant kept disparate audiences engaged, entertained, and amazed:

  • Alibaba’s Cloud ME facilitated life-sized, true-to-life video interactions for broadcast professionals and athletes to bridge geographic distances and pandemic restrictions.  Powered by real-time communication solution, users could step into a Cloud ME booth where their projected personas were displayed to meet and greet with their counterparts virtually.

    “The real-time communication solution powered by cloud technology plays a critical role in helping the world to connect effectively. Leveraging our global cloud network and self-proprietary algorithms, we aim to bring the benefits of real-time communication to various day-to-day scenarios including online education, interactive entertainment, video conferencing and other enterprise services,” said Lijuan Chen, General Manager of Product and Solution, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.
  • OBS Cloud, a collaboration with Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), enabled Right-Holding Broadcasters (RHBs) faster deployment time with fewer onsite resources with the agility of cloud. This included facilitating the transmission of games footage in real-time, while offering all the expected live-editing features such as frame-freeze, slow motion replays, multi-camera replay sequences and other video processing techniques for immersive coverage of the events. The distribution of live signals of the Olympic Games over the cloud has been implemented for the first time, providing Rights Holding Broadcasters (RHBs) with agile and cost-effective options for production and streaming these worldwide. Over 6,000 hours of footage produced were broadcasted to more than 220 countries and territories.
  • The unforgettably lifelike ‘virtual influencer’ Dong Dong—created with Alibaba’s DAMO Academy’s cloud-based AI and 3D technology—charmed digital natives and sports fans around the world with glamorous songs and dances powered by natural language processing, emotional speech synthesis and computer vision. The digital persona hosted live talk shows, promoted Winter Olympics merchandise, and led countless audiences in cheering the athletes on.

Said one of Dong Dong’s creators, Xiaolong Li, Leader of Alibaba Virtual Human & Intelligent Customer Service: “In the future, we will push technology boundaries even further to create an enthralling mixed reality. Digital personas or virtual influencers will find new ways to engage with their audience through immersive experiences or a metaverse-style setting, whether during large-scale, global sports events like the Olympic Games, virtual conferences or 3D exhibition tours. In addition, they can also be very helpful with their practical capability as diligent, smart and efficient assistants to the reporters.”

In addition to these world-class features, Alibaba’s renowned e-commerce expertise was behind the Official Olympic Store on Tmall and through more than 7,000 stores across China.

Simultaneously, Alibaba unveiled its own Cloud Showcasing—a virtual 3D exhibition highlighting the cloud technology giant’s journey as a worldwide Olympic partner responsible for the digital transformation of recent Olympic Games, which also promoted the firm’s innovative e-commerce platforms featuring official Olympic merchandise.