While this summer's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics took place without being hit by major incidents such as a terrorist attack thanks to the unprecedented scale of security operations by police and the Games' organizing committee, an expert touted the use of cutting-edge technologies, including a facial recognition system, as well as public-private cooperation as part of the events' legacy from the events.
The Tokyo Games organizing committee formed a joint venture of 553 security service companies from around Japan, with up to 14,000 personnel mobilized per day to guard the athletes village and competition venues.
About 59,900 police officers were gathered from police departments across the country, including those belonging to Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department.
A facial recognition system was used for the first time in Olympic and Paralympic history for personal identification of athletes and staff officials entering the athletes village, match venues and other places related to the Tokyo Games. More than 300 face recognition devices for the system, developed by Japanese electronics giant NEC Corp., were installed.
Through the system, face recognition was conducted about 4 million times, but no mechanical problem occurred, according to the organizing committee.
Noting that errors could occur from checks with human eyes, a senior security official said that the facial recognition system "greatly contributed to the safety" of the Games.
Police especially put their efforts into preventing terror attacks using drones, introducing devices to detect suspicious drones and jamming equipment to make them unable to continue flying.
To prevent terror attacks using helicopters or other aircraft, police utilized a flight control system developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA.
A device capable of communicating with a satellite used for the JAXA system was installed on aircraft that obtained permission for flying over areas related to the Games. This enabled police to detect suspicious aircraft without the device early.
"Efforts by police alone are not sufficient in preventing terror attacks, so cooperation between the public and private sectors is important," a senior official of the National Police Agency said.
Police also called on road managers to set up car stops to prevent attacks using automobiles while car rental companies were asked to inform police if they notice suspicious customers.
"In the security operations for the Tokyo Games, new technologies were utilized and information sharing between the public and private sectors was sufficient," said Isao Itabashi, chief of the Council for Public Policy's research center, who is well-versed in measures against terrorism. "It's important to pass on (the legacy) to future events, such as the 2025 World Exposition in the western Japan city of Osaka," he said.
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