The World’s First Cyborg Olympics

Margherita Olivo
March 29th 2016

The Olympic Games have evolved a lot over the years, the inaugural games in Athens in 1896 only offered nine sports. Many changes have been made since then, but every one of them is carefully thought through. While the Olympics and Paralympics are against the use of technological and motorized enhancements, the upcoming cyborg Olympics want to encourage people with disabilities to benefit from these hi-tech appliances, investigating if electronically enhanced humans have an unfair advantage.

The first cyborg Olympics will take place in Zurich, Switerland, in October 2016. Renamed the Cybathlon, the event won't include regular physical competitions, they will instead focus on ordinary, everyday tasks, such as opening jars of jam or slicing bread. The organizer of the event is Robert Riener, Professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, told IEEE Spectrum the Cybathlon is "less about force and speed, and more about control of the body and the device". The competitors won’t be called athletes, but pilots.

Eighty teams will participate and major television broadcasting channels are planning to cover the event. Each team will consists of a technology group and a pilot and in case of a winning medal, both will be awarded. The hope of the organizers is that the next Cybathlon can take place in Tokyo together with the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. This will be a great event to reward engineers and technologists around the globe, to give a stage to less fortunate people and a great occasion to spur innovation in an industry where few eligible for prostheses actually use them. Maybe, in a not so far future, disadvantaged children will dream of becoming a cyborg Olympian.

Source: IEEE Spectrum. Image: Cybathlon

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