Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning , Next-Generation Technologies & Secure Development

Olympians Tout AI in Sports

International Olympics Committee Publishes AI Strategy
Olympians Tout AI in Sports
Olympics organizers say artificial intelligence will enhance sport. (Image: Shutterstock)

Olympic Games organizers on Friday in London touted artificial intelligence for its potential to revolutionize sports and rolled out a framework the International Olympics Committee said will guide responsible use of AI.

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For more than two hours, athletes, tech executives and IOC executives highlighted the ways in which AI would be good in sports, citing its application for identifying promising new talent, creating personalized training programs, stripping biases from judging and transforming TV coverage. Paris is set to host the 33rd Summer Olympic Games in less than 100 days.

"We are determined to exploit this vast potential of AI in a responsible way," said IOC President Thomas Bach.

The IOC's framework says it will develop a trustworthy AI strategy and a road map to guide the future application of AI in the Olympics and sports in general, partnering with academics and enterprises to implement the technology and address risks.

"In sport, the performances will always have to be delivered by the athletes. The 100 meters will always have to be run by an athlete - a human being. Therefore, we can concentrate on the potential of AI to support the athletes," Bach said.

Presenters stressed the capacity of AI tools to boost performance. Lindsey Vonn, the American downhill ski racer, said she kept hand-written records of her performance under different conditions. "Everything from performance to recovery to data analysis, the possibilities for athletes nowadays are endless," she said. James Huckle, a British sport shooter, said that he built a spreadsheet to record the trajectory of bullets but experimenting with Google DeepMind made the data more meaningful.

The sports industry has already begun spinning up similar use cases. The NBA's AI-powered Global Scout app analyzes player performance data to help identify talent, track player statistics and evaluate potential recruits. The IBM Power Index and Match Insights, used in several tennis matches including Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, helps coaches by analyzing historical and real-time data to predict match outcomes, player performance and game strategies. The Gymnastics World Championships' scoring system uses AI algorithms to evaluate the players' routines and score them based on precision, execution and difficulty.

At the London rollout, Intel Chief Commercial Officer Christoph Schell said AI could extract data from even more untapped sources. Sitting next to Vonn, he said AI "could even maybe interpret her facial expression - did she like that turn, or did she not like the turn?"

Molly Solomon, executive producer and president of NBC Olympics Production, said that AI can boost presentation through data analysis, with graphics and enhanced video, personalization and predictive analysis. "It can also help navigate the plethora of content the Olympic Games provide, connecting fans with the events and athletes they love, which will result in deeper engagement and spending more time on our platforms," she said. Media firms pay billions to the IOC for broadcast rights of the Summer Games and Winter Games, which run quadrennially.

Solomon is part of an 18-member working group that put together the Olympic AI Agenda. The expert panel includes individuals from academics, athletics and technology companies and aims to help the IOC harness AI's opportunities in sports while managing the risks. The agenda follows two other IOC publications on AI use for sports launched in December 2014 and March 2021, based on Bach's statement: "Change or be changed."

About the Author

Rashmi Ramesh

Rashmi Ramesh

Assistant Editor, Global News Desk, ISMG

Ramesh has seven years of experience writing and editing stories on finance, enterprise and consumer technology, and diversity and inclusion. She has previously worked at formerly News Corp-owned TechCircle, business daily The Economic Times and The New Indian Express.

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