An Olympic-sized challenge Aug 1, 2016

The Olympics

THE OLYMPIC GAMES ARE IN A CATEGORY ALL THEIR OWN. Every four years, thousands of the world’s finest athletes converge in one place to compete in dozens of different sports. Millions of spectators gather to cheer them on, and billions of viewers around the globe temporarily abandon normal routine to follow the action in real time. The sheer scale of the event, and the challenges involved in making it happen, are unrivaled.

And while it’s the performance of the athletes that captivates the world, the performance of the support teams behind the scenes at the Olympics is in many ways just as remarkable. The feats they accomplish – under the most intense conditions possible – set the gold medal standard for logistical achievement.

On your mark…

Planning for an event the size of the Olympics begins years ahead of time. From the moment a country receives the nod from the Olympic Committee, an enormous collaborative effort is set in motion. Large infrastructure projects – from sports venues and athlete housing, to transportation networks and warehouse facilities – have to be strategically designed, funded and executed.

Plans for everything from security to socializing have to be drawn up and delegated. Every detail – from procuring the right glue for the handball teams, to safely storing the large-scale obstacles for equestrian events – has to be meticulously considered and carefully controlled. Because once the Olympic games begin, there are no do-overs. With the hopes and dreams of every athlete and every participating country at stake, there is no room for error.

Get set…

This is what keeps the logistics professionals up at night: A pallet of specialized athletic equipment that might not clear customs in time. An over-taxed electrical grid that could fail at a crucial moment. A velodrome track that is somehow too steep at the turn.

With so many variables and moving parts, Olympic logistics teams have to anticipate problems and make “educated guesses” well ahead of time on issues large and small. How many generators will we need for backup? How many extra balls/oars/sails should we order? How many hotel rooms is enough? How do we avoid gridlock? How do we keep people safe?

Since every country that hosts the games is different, the “game plan” for every Olympics is different. From stocking adequate quantities of sunblock (or umbrellas) for spectators…to providing reliable internet service for the international press…to managing the realities of politics and public perception at home, the host country will be called on to serve the needs of an enormous and varied constituency 24/7 for two-plus action-packed, stress-filled weeks. All with the whole world watching.


When the Olympic torch is lit to symbolize the beginning of the games, it’s “go time” for the tens of thousands of workers and volunteers on hand to make sure things run smoothly. Timekeepers. Computer experts. Cooks. Forklift operators. Groundskeepers. Doctors. Plumbers. Performers. Translators. Every one of them with a crucial part to play in the drama unfolding around them.

With so much happening, there are bound to be surprises – and sometimes crises. This is when the intensive training and preparation that preceded the games comes into play. This is when the logistics and support teams come into their own. Racing against time to find and deliver replacements for broken equipment from a far-flung warehouse. Monitoring changing weather conditions through the night while athletes and spectators sleep. Running the drills and diagnostics required to ensure the integrity of every venue, every event, every moment until the last medal has been awarded and the last visitor has returned safely home.

And after the world’s attention has shifted away from the Olympic stage, it is the support teams who will make sure that crates filled with valuable, delicate sports equipment are shipped back to the right locations; that temporary structures are dismantled and properly stored; that the trash is cleared and the bills are paid. From start to finish, it’s a challenge of Olympic proportions – and a winning testament to the power of careful planning, hard work and true collaboration.

At Legistics, collaboration is at the core of everything we do. To find out more about our how our dedicated, experienced support teams can help you achieve your loftiest goals, visit our home page.