The IOC Delivered the Olympics During a Pandemic

The IOC turned to Intel-powered devices for superior performance, security, and stability when it mattered most.

At a glance:

  • The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the supreme authority of the Olympic Movement, acting as a catalyst for collaboration between all parties of the Olympic family.

  • The IOC was planning and managing the Olympic Games in its first-ever virtually supported model, with summer and winter editions happening back-to-back due to COVID-19 delays. Devices powered by the Intel® Evo™ vPro® platform allowed the IOC workforce to stay connected and collaborative across dispersed teams and planning partners around the world.



Long before the torch was lit and the Opening Ceremony began at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was working hard to ensure that everything wouldn’t just run smoothly, but “virtually,” too. Doing so required peak performance from each employee of the IOC.

The IOC had its work cut out for it, and it turned to Intel, the Official Processor Partner of the Olympic Games, to help it rise to the challenge.

The global pandemic presented a host of new hurdles unlike anything the IOC had dealt with before. For one, it forced its dispersed team to collaborate remotely.

Another challenge: It would be producing the world’s biggest sporting event within an unusually tight time frame, with both the summer and winter editions of the Olympic Games happening nearly back-to-back. Unlike previous events, these Olympic Games locations would become “virtual.” For the IOC, this meant working together from various locations: on the ground, from its headquarters in Switzerland, and from other places across the world.

Doing so required using the best online collaboration tools that would run seamlessly without compromising computer performance.

“We needed to be just as efficient as we would be if everyone was working from the same office,” said Céline Pechin, IT service manager, IOC.

The processing power of the IOC’s previous device hardware lacked the fast responsiveness and overall performance needed to successfully meet the new challenges.

Ilario Corna, Chief Information and Technology Officer, IOC, knew that for the hundreds of IOC employees to succeed, they needed the best laptops when it came to processing power—laptops powerful enough to run complex applications and secure enough to protect employees from pernicious ransomware attacks.

It would take a rollout of new business-grade, high-performance laptops powered with the Intel® Evo™ vPro® platform to rise to the challenge.

Operating Within a Tighter Time Frame

Unlike in previous years where there was a two-year interval between the summer and winter editions of the Olympic Games, the IOC would be supporting these events within a drastically reduced time frame. This meant organizing stadium designs and building event venues; coordinating accommodations for the athletes; and managing and maintaining important relationships with partners and broadcasters, to name a few—all seemingly at a moment’s notice.

There were also planning initiatives like the first Olympic Virtual Experience Program, an endeavor that would test the limits of real-time processing with multiple virtual visits per week, hundreds of video participants, and thousands of live-video minutes.

With all these tasks at hand, productivity was now more essential than ever. The IOC couldn’t afford to have its fleet of computers malfunctioning or crashing unexpectedly. It needed reliable device hardware that provided the best user experience and performance capabilities for remote collaboration and productivity.

“You want your PC to come back from standby, switch between networks, start from shutdown, all very quickly. We want performance for reactivity since there is no time to waste. It’s all about reacting quickly to any situation that may arise. Saving time makes people happy,” Pechin said.

High-Performance Device Hardware for All Employees

In Corna’s mind, every employee is an “IOC employee,” regardless of their job title. Whether an employee worked in the finance department or was on the marketing team, each needed the same standardized business-grade and enterprise-level laptop in their hands. Doing so would provide a more consistent, user-friendly, and productive experience across the organization.

For the IOC’s IT team, standardizing the organization’s fleet of device hardware would spare them the pain of managing disparate pieces of equipment—something that historically ate up a lot of IT’s time, support, and resources. After testing parameters and removing pain points through the IOC’s Digital Champions program its internal focus and testing group, the IOC ultimately chose Intel® Evo™ vPro® platform-based device hardware running on 11th Gen Intel® Core™ processors for its high performance and state-of-the-art user experience.

With all IOC teams now using the same standardized device hardware, the organization saw near-instant results. The Intel® Evo™ vPro® platform changed the way teams operated thanks to faster processor speeds, which helped enable more secure and real-time remote collaboration.

Next-generation technology provided a seamless and powerful user experience for all teams, regardless of their location. Perhaps more importantly, the Intel® Evo™ vPro® platform gave the IOC the connectivity it needed to bring the first virtually hybrid Olympics to life.

“Having back-to-back events within the span of a year while dealing with COVID-related travel restrictions and adopting a first-ever hybrid organizing model was a challenge no one has done before. Fortunately, thanks to Intel and vPro, we were able to help deliver Tokyo 2020 to a virtual audience.” —Ilario Corna, CITO at IOC

Best-In-Class Performance

The Intel® Evo™ vPro® platform gave the IOC the best-in-class performance and reliable connectivity it required for seamless and uninterrupted collaboration. This high-performing device hardware has processing power that can handle multiple bandwidth-demanding apps—like videoconferencing, content creation, and financing applications—while also giving users the performance needed to do everyday tasks.

With the upgrade, the IOC was no longer fighting the constant technical glitches it used to face with its older hardware—a welcome development, according to Pechin.

“Booting up our previous devices would normally take three to four minutes. New Intel® Evo™ vPro® device hardware takes about one minute and 15 seconds,” Pechin said.

“Standardizing” a Less Stressful Experience for IT

Corna’s plan to standardize the IOC’s device hardware paid immediate dividends by giving IT greater stability. Using standardized Intel® Evo™ vPro® platform-based device hardware companywide meant IT no longer had to juggle multiple—and often incompatible—ecosystems. The Intel® Evo™ vPro® platform made it easier for IT to manage its device resources in bulk.

Despite the new device hardware being used in different locations around the world, standardization made it possible for IT to manage setup remotely and in a fraction of the time previously needed for PC refreshes.

Hardware-Based Security Features Without Compromised Performance

Security was crucial for the IOC—but not at the expense of performance.

The hardware-based security features of the Intel® Evo™ vPro® platform gave the IOC an out-of-the-box solution that helps protect all levels of the computing stack without weighing down processing speeds.

“The security built into the Intel® Evo™ vPro® platform helped ensure that additional security measures did not impact performance,” said Allison Whiteley, Associate Director IOC Technology.

Intel® Evo™ vPro® platform security features can also help reduce the risk of malicious code injection in UEFI memory with Intel® Runtime BIOS Resilience. In the event of a firmware attack, security features like Intel® Trusted Execution Technology can help prevent access to sensitive data by relaunching the OS and virtual security workloads in Intel hardware. It can also lock down memory in the BIOS against firmware attacks and perform a more secure reboot at the hardware level.

Going for Gold

The switch to device hardware equipped with Intel® Evo™ vPro® helped the IOC gain a competitive advantage to pull off a successful Olympic Games and fulfill its commitment to support the world’s best athletes.

The IOC’s dispersed workforce was able to collaborate remotely while exchanging information securely from multiple locations.

“Having back-to-back events within the span of a year while dealing with COVID-related travel restrictions and adopting a first-ever hybrid organizing model was a challenge no one has done before,” said Corna. “Fortunately, thanks to Intel and vPro®, we were able to help deliver Tokyo 2020 to a virtual audience.”