Music links athletes and spectators
Panasonic RAMSA Sound System
Excitement rose to fever pitch day after day in the beach volleyball contest on Bondi Beach
The fiercely contested sixteen days of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games got off to a lively start in front of the Opera House, Sydney's symbol.
It was at this Olympiad that the triathlon, including a 1.5 km swim, 40 km cycle and 10 km run, became an official sport. This punishing contest, a challenge to the possibilities of human endurance, was gaily set off by the sparkling blue of Sydney Harbor, the music pulsating round the venue, and the high-tech costumes and bicycles. Yet another gripping new event had been added to the program of the 104-year old Modern Olympic Games.
Every events began and ended in front of the Opera House. Loud music and cheering reverberated round Sydney's most celebrated tourist attraction. Spectators were able to follow every thrilling moment of the race, from the moment the athletes left the venue till the moment they reappeared, on a gigantic ASTROVISON screen. Music also helped to set the mood. That's the way to enjoy sport in style!
"The Sydney 2000 Olympic Games were the best ever." This was the accolade accorded by Juan Antonio Samaranch, the president of the IOC (International Olympic Committee) at the Closing Ceremony. Indeed the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games left an impressive record of achievement. As many as 200 countries and territories took part. Among these were countries which brought a message of peace such as East Timor, which had qualified individually, and North and South Korea, competing under one flag. Some 10,651 athletes in 28 sports, divided into 300 different events, competed at the highest level. Everything was on a scale which repainted the history of the Games.
In the 34 venues which comprised the Olympic arena, the members of the Panasonic team responsible for the RAMSA sound system heard the applause and the cheering. Even RAMSA, which had supported every Olympic Games since the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games, operated on a larger scale than ever before at Sydney, and provided a wealth of new ideas.
Mac Takeuchi, Senior Staff Engineer at Matsushita Communication Industrial Co., Ltd
According to Mac Takeuchi, who is responsible for RAMSA, "The atmosphere in the venue at every Olympic Games is surprisingly different. Even more so when there's a new event. For athletes and spectators alike, atmosphere and enjoyment are important."
At one time, in a venue where serious competitive events were taking place, the names of the athletes and announcements about records were all there was in the way of sound. Now athletes listen to their favorite music before the contest to enhance their concentration and derive energy from the support of the spectators. Sound has become an indispensable element in sport.
"We suggested a high-precision sound simulation in all 34 venues before the Games began. In indoor stadiums, we had to take reverberation into consideration so that athletes and spectators could hear the same music without any time lag. Outdoors, the problem was how to make homogeneous sound penetrate to every corner of the stadium without producing unnecessary background noise."
RAMSA also came into its own at beach volleyball, a new sport which had been adopted as an official item at the previous Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.
Whereas at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games there was an artificial court miles away from the beach, at Sydney a real beach made its appearance. This was Bondi Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. A temporary stand was set up, with room for 10,000 spectators in steep tiers encircling the court to enable everyone to watch play closely.
Large speaker for high sound quality halls
"The Sydney 2000 Olympic Games were supposed to be an environmentally-friendly, "green Olympic Games." In each venue we installed our sound systems so as not to spoil the view or the natural surroundings, and to minimize sound leakage outside the stadium. At the beach volleyball court we took particular care to ensure that the loud music wouldn't cause any disturbance outside the court. Because of course you can't have a beach volleyball match without the right music to get everyone in the mood."
At last the Games began. As the spectators made their way to their seats, listening to the sound of the waves on Bondi Beach and crunching fine grains of sand underfoot, they were astonished to find themselves suddenly in a disco under the blue sky. Loud music which shook the temporary stand, soft sounds which made the body tingle. The tiers of seats around the white sand court appeared. The minute design of the high-directivity speakers, which have the ability to transmit sound in one particular direction, prevented any noise from leaking outside the stand.
During the interval the court MC ran around the stand urging people to wave. "Start here!" "There!" "Faster!" "Supersonic!" "Slowly!" The unprecedented choice of music, from the familiar rock phrases of bands like Men at Work, Queen, and Village People to techno and waltz had the spectators roaring with laughter as they stood up, sat down, stood up again.
Ground-level speakers were protected by polyethylene to keep out sand
Inspired by the people in the stand, the players kept to the beat as they hit the ball. There was a volte-face in the local media's reaction.
"Perfect!" "Greatest in beach volleyball history," were some of the comments.
The Japanese team of Takahashi and Saeki, which finished fourth, were full of praise for the atmosphere around the court, saying, "It's easy to have a good game without feeling nervous." In the quarter finals, thanks to the cheers of encouragement from the crowd at their backs the Japanese girls managed to dispose of the Czech team, despite the 17cm difference in height, in just 25 minutes.
Each member of the RAMSA team which installed the sound system in the various venues brought back some unforgettable memory from Sydney.
The triathlon which started off in front of the Opera House. Here, in order not to spoil the scenery, the speakers were set up in the adjoining park. Since it was the first time for the triathlon as an Olympic sport, the RAMSA team repeatedly adjusted the equipment. On the day of the final check, they turned on the music in the big park and then spent 40 minutes going round, testing each speaker one by one. After they stopped the music a woman with a little girl called out:
"Who turned off the music?"
When the RAMSA team explained that they were testing the music for the Olympic Games the woman replied a little sadly:
"What a pity! My little girl was really enjoying that music..."
The music from the RAMSA speakers was heard with pleasure by people relaxing in the park. When the team heard the woman's reply they realized that they had laid the groundwork well.
"You can look forward to the Olympic Games," they called to the mother and daughter. Then, after playing the music for a little longer and watching the people listening, they left the park.
* These reports were written in February 2002.
We changed the corporate name from Matsushita Group to Panasonic Group on October 1, 2008.
Some reports in this page use our former name because they were written before the renaming.