Going for gold: The logistics of global sports events

The competitive world of winter sports unites in Pyeongchang, South Korea today, with 95 teams set to compete for their share of the 102 medals up for grabs.

For cargo carriers, the challenge is moving the equipment of 2,952 athletes (and an even larger number of media) to South Korea from all corners of the world. From bobsleds, luges and biathlon rifles to cameras, microphones and lights, this valuable cargo will have arrived in the rural mountain province of Gangwon in time for the Games’ opening on February 9th.

During the two-week duration, Pyeongchang’s transportation system will be expected to manage an additional 1.5 to 2 million extra journeys. A new expressway has been added between the cities of Seongnam and Anyang near Seoul, cutting travel time from Incheon airport to the Olympic venues by 40 minutes, while an extra 75km of track were added to the road from Seoul to Yangyang County in Gangwon Province, reducing travel time from just over two hours to an hour and a half.

Another logistical aspect less frequently considered is catering. Across the fortnight, hot meals are served at all hours in the Olympic Village’s dining hall. During the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, the village kitchen was capable of producing 60,000 meals daily, prepared using daily shipments of 210,000 kilos of raw ingredients. This year’s Winter contest will require the similar manpower and quantities to cater to demand.

It’s set to be a big one – the opening ceremony alone is expected to draw 35,000 spectators, and some 826,000 tickets have been sold across the 13 venues. At IAG Cargo, all hands are on deck to support the teams with their needs – for those of us in the UK, we’re thrilled that Team GB has sent its largest ever contingent this year, with 59 athletes. We’re definitely going for gold.