Tokyo - Hundreds of thousands of Tokyo 2020 athletes, staff
and reporters will be scanned by cutting-edge facial recognition technology in
an Olympic Games first, organisers said on Tuesday.
About 300 000 athletes, staff members, volunteers and
reporters will be required to use their ID card and be verified with the facial
recognition system to access venues.
The security overhaul will prevent fraudulent entry by
people borrowing, stealing or faking an ID card, said electronics giant NEC,
which developed the technology.
It will be rolled out across all facilities - including the
43 competition venues, athlete lodgings and media centres - but would not be
used for spectators, organisers said.
"It is the first time facial recognition will be
deployed for all people involved in the Olympics at all venues," Olympic
security chief Tsuyoshi Iwashita told reporters.
"Higher security is needed for people involved in
Olympics as they enter important areas. They also go in and out of venues so we
decided to introduce the system for smooth entry," he added.
This will be especially practical for the Tokyo Olympics as
the venues are scattered widely around the massive Japanese capital, Iwashita
The technology takes only 0.3 seconds to match up a face
with a pre-registered photo, said Masaaki Suganuma, an official at NEC, which
claims this is the world's fastest such system.
In an experiment conducted last year, access using an ID
card and facial recognition was 2.5 times faster than using barcodes and visual
checks as at previous Olympics.