Drones at the 2016 Summer Olympics

The Olympics, being the world’s most prestigious sports event, naturally attract legions of visitors who not only watch the Games, but also capture the proceedings and epic moments with their photo/video cameras/recorders and other photography equipment.

The same is true for 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, but with a special twist – drones are being used, despite warnings from officials.

Observers reported as many as three drones hovering above the stadium, triggering a security panic that reached all the way to the teams providing protection for visiting heads of state. It was the exact scenario Brazilian security had hoped to avoid — but despite the latest equipment and months of preparation, keeping drones out of an open-air stadium is still an extremely difficult job. – Read more here:

2016 Summer Olympics (Rio, Brazil)


In the U.S., recreational drones are strictly prohibited by the FAA from being flown over crowds in open public areas like parks stadiums and sports events, and within 5 miles of an airport. They should also avoid flying over 400 feet above ground, and must always be within sight of the drone operator.

For non-recreational drones, those that are used for work or business, such as providing aerial photography services for real estate marketing or for social events, FAA offers 3 options to fly: applying for special permissions, following the rules of Section 333 grant of exemption, and obtaining an airworthiness certificate for the aircraft.

Specifically for media outlets who would like to shoot stories or cover breaking news, including sporting events, here is what the FAA says

Media companies may use a UAS, but must adhere to the requirements of their Section 333 grant of exemption or the Small UAS Rule (Part 107). Organizations may request a waiver under Part 107 to fly over people, and will need to provide sufficient mitigations to ensure public safety.

Back in Rio, drone technology was being planned by some broadcasting companies to cover the Games, according to a report by the Business Insider.

There has been an explosion in drone technology in TV since the London 2012 Olympics, and broadcasters will experiment with hovering cameras in Rio.

The BBC is working with OBS to provide international broadcasters with coverage of rowing, and Chakraborty said drone cameras could help make the sport the “star” of the Olympics.

Read more at:

Nevertheless, safety and security are of utmost concern to authorities, and reports also say that officials have coordinated with drone manufacturers to ensure drones cannot be flown over restricted areas.

China-based DJI announced Thursday that it has updated its software to include no-fly zones over the Olympic venues in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and other Brazilian cities during the upcoming games. The temporary restrictions were added at the request of the Brazilian military and will remain in place for the entirety of the athletic events in an effort to enhance safety and security, DJI said in a press release. – See here:

The Brazilian government allows the use of drones in the country subject to its drone laws, which are similar to FAA’s rules and regulations. In relation to the Rio2016 Olympics, airport customs may restrict drones from being brought into the country for security reasons. As a result we recommend if you must shoot drone footage in Brazil during the Olympics that you have your drone shipped separately into the country via FedEx or a courier. – See more here

“Whether for fun or work/business, drones should certainly be used with total respect for safety, security of lives and properties, no matter what events are to be covered and photographed or filmed,” James Davis , publisher of The Droneologist said.

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