Tokyo Olympics: Japan spends millions on technology for absent Olympic fans

nzherald.co.nz -- Mar 25
Japan's top telecommunications company is getting 7.3 billion yen in taxpayer money to design mobile tracking software to curb the spread of coronavirus infections during the Tokyo Olympics.

There's one catch: Few Olympic fans from abroad will be around to use it.

Tokyo Olympic organisers and the IOC on Saturday announced a ban on fans from abroad attending the games, which open on July 23.

NTT Communications Corp., a group company of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. and a domestic sponsor of the Tokyo Games, heads the consortium developing the app in multiple languages that is set for release in June.

Domestic sponsors have contributed a record of $3.5 billion to the local organising committee, a total about three times larger than any previous Olympics. Contributions have been driven by giant marketing company Dentsu Inc., the official marketing partner of the Tokyo Olympics.

Like other skeptics, opposition lawmaker Kanako Otsuji has said the app is a waste of money.

"When there will likely be no spectators, is this the time to be designing an app for fans?

The Japanese government has failed over and over in digital innovation, but it's going to have success with this new app?" she said on her YouTube channel last month.

Users are to download the app in their cell phones so their whereabouts can be monitored with satellite technology.

In theory, it tracks infections. But it all must be done in good faith and is effective only if people use it honestly and diligently to record their health conditions and warn others of outbreaks.

- nzherald.co.nz