Joint statement: Call for an immediate halt to the use of biometric technology in the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games

Joint Statement: Call for an immediate halt to the use of biometric technology in the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games

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Press Release

July 9, 2021


Toshimaru Ogura

070-5553-5495 /

Calling organization

2020 “Olympic Disaster” Warning Liaison Group


Asia-Japan Women’s Resource Center

Citizens Liaison Committee Against Wiretapping Law

Consumers Union of Japan

Network Against Japan Arms Trade

We are against the introduction of exhaustive mass surveillance, whether by the government or the private sector. With this principle as a premise, we will focus our views below on the use of biometric technology, which raises particularly serious questions.

Our demands are as follows

  • The Organizing Committee must cease all use of biometric technology.
  • The sponsors must also stop using biometric technology in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  • The Japanese government must respect the fundamental human rights and the right to privacy guaranteed in the Constitution and international laws, and stop its policies and financial expenditures to promote the use of biometric technology in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  • All organizations involved in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, both public and private, should immediately dispose of any biometric data they have acquired.
  • We demand that police and other investigative and law enforcement agencies dispose of their biometric equipment and stop using biometric technology.

Use of biometric and AI technologies in the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games

The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee signed a Tokyo 2020 sponsorship agreement with NEC in 2015 in the field of biometrics and other technologies. At the time of the agreement, Yoshiro Mori, then chairman of the organizing committee, commented, “We hope that NEC will support the safety of the Games by introducing cutting-edge biometric authentication, behavior detection, and other security technologies.” This is the first time that facial recognition will be used in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and NEC has announced that facial recognition will be used to verify the identities of about 300,000 Games personnel.

In addition, the security industry, including SECOM, which contracted with the organizing committee, established the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games Security Joint Consortium. They will reportedly build an integrated monitoring system using surveillance cameras and AI, and establish a system to share information with police, firefighters, and emergency services in real time. SECOM already has a successful experience in the 2005 Tokyo Marathon, where it equipped security guards with wearable cameras and used AI to monitor the unusual behavior of the audience along the route. ALSOK, in collaboration with NTT, is conducting a demonstration experiment of “5G security”, in which 4K surveillance cameras are installed at the Tokyo Skytree to monitor the surrounding roads and the movement of cars using AI.

In addition, the Metropolitan Police Department has announced the comprehensive monitoring of the Tokyo waterfront area by balloons equipped with surveillance cameras. The system introduced by the MPD was developed for military use in foreign countries and is considered to be capable of being equipped with a biometric recognition system.

In addition to the introduction of biometric recognition in the existing immigration control, the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games is becoming a showcase for the development of a surveillance society through GPS surveillance, biometric recognition, and AI technology. The issues of human rights and privacy violations have not been discussed at all. The Organizing Committee has refused to disclose the details of the use of facial recognition.

In view of the above situation, and for the following reasons, we oppose the introduction of biometric recognition systems, including face recognition.

Biometric information is personal information that remains unchanged for life.

Biometric information is the most important personal information that cannot be changed in one’s lifetime.There is currently no effective way to avoid the risk that personal information obtained through biometric technology will be used freely by others than the person oneself. This is especially true when the details of the biometric technology have not been disclosed.There is also no established right to erase biometric data that has been obtained by others. No law or system can promise to protect personal information for almost 100 years of human life. Nor is it likely that we will see a society in which personal information is more securely protected in the future. Rather, it is more likely that we will live in a society where corporations and governments will use our biometric information more freely. There is even the possibility of a dictatorship where personal information will be misused. In this context, both the government and the private sector should withdraw from the development, marketing, and use of biometric technology, not just for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

No refusal to provide biometric data for the Olympic and Paralympic Games

In Japan, there are no effective regulations on the use of biometric technology. When the biometric data obtained is combined with GPS data and other behavior detection technologies, the severity of the invasion of personal privacy becomes even greater. With the rapid spread of infection occurring again, surveillance under the pretext of infection control could be further intensified. Moreover, the technology and rules for how the personal data collected will be shared and used by companies and the government remain unclear. It is true that under Japan’s Personal Information Protection Law, biometric data is considered personal information, but it does not require the consent of the individual to be obtained. Only when the information is to be provided to a third party, the consent of the individual is formally required. The right to control one’s own information has not been established. With regard to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, if a person refuses to give his or her consent, there is no choice but to give up participation in the Games or the coverage itself, which is in fact compulsory. It also remains unclear how these technologies are being used on participants in the movements against the Olympics and Paralympics.

Surveillance technology to be inherited in the post-Olympic era

The Olympic organizing committee does not take the acquisition of biometric data seriously as a serious problem. Under the guise of security measures, the government has from the beginning positioned the Olympic and Paralympic Games as a venue for the use of advanced surveillance technology. The sponsors, NEC and the security industry, also see the Olympic and Paralympic Games as a good business opportunity without any serious examination of the fact that their business sacrifices human rights. It is clear from the responses of the government and industry that the surveillance infrastructure invited by the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be inherited by the post-Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Olympic and Paralympic Games will undoubtedly serve as a catalyst for the development of an even more sophisticated surveillance society.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games have always been a surveillance event.

In the past, the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as a national event, has always posed a threat to the security of the people in the name of national security, and has triggered the strengthening of urban surveillance systems that have been used to forcefully redevelop cities, exclude the poor, and suppress civil liberties. The 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games saw the mass deployment of the most sophisticated surveillance camera system ever seen, and the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games saw increased online surveillance. In Rio de Janeiro Olympic and Paralympic Games, military surveillance systems used by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan were converted and deployed. Panasonic is also a sponsor in the field of urban surveillance technology. In this way, the Olympic and Paralympic Games itself has the character of a surveillance event that is connected to the profits of the surveillance industry. And this time, this trend has been extended to the introduction of new surveillance technologies such as biometrics, GPS and AI surveillance.

Despite the fact that the use of biometric technology and AI is being regulated and banned around the world…

There are already moves to halt the use of biometrics in many regions of the world, including US municipalities and the EU. In the US, the cities of San Francisco and Boston and the state of Maine have tightly regulated facial recognition technology, and this trend is spreading; in the EU, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) and the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) have called for a ban on biometric recognition technology in public spaces. In the United Nations, UNESCO and other organizations have made concrete moves to regulate AI. There are also growing movements on a global scale, led by privacy groups, to ban biometric technology itself.

In contrast, the current attitude of the Japanese government, the organizing committee, and the sponsors is clearly hostile to these trends. In fact, the Olympic Games may become a venue for business negotiations for the export of surveillance technology to developing countries, which may trigger the global proliferation of a surveillance society.

It is necessary to cancel the Olympic and Paralympic Games itself, which is inseparable from the formation of a surveillance society.

In this way, the Olympic and Paralympic Games itself is inseparable from the surveillance society. The Olympic and Paralympic Games cannot be dismissed as a mere sporting event. The social infrastructure that was introduced in the Olympic and Paralympic Games will certainly remain afterwards. The only option left for us is to cancel the Olympic and Paralympic Games. This is the most effective response that is needed now, not only to stop the spread of the COVID-19 infection, but also to stop the spread of surveillance.


Call for endorsing organizations

If you support this statement, please send it to the following address with the name of your organization and the words “Support statement against biometric technology”.


Purpose of use

The statement will be sent to the IOC/JOC Organizing Committee, the Minister of State for the Orypara Games, NEC, the Security Services Joint Consortium, SECOM, ALSOK, and the press. To be published on blogs and other media. The statement, explanatory materials, and supporting organizations will be published on the blog as “free to reproduce”. The contact information of the endorsing organizations will not be disclosed. The contact information of the endorsing organization will not be used except for communication with the endorsing organization and will not be provided to other endorsing organizations.