Online Olympics

With the Atlanta Olympics under way at the time of writing, there's more information about the Games being distributed online than ever before -- hardly surprising, though, since the World Wide Web didn't take off until 1993, a year after the last games in Barcelona.

Unlike most Web sites, which can delay their opening if things aren't quite right, the official site for the Olympics -- run by IBM -- has had to be right first time, and on time.

More data is being recorded about these Games than ever before; IBM estimate that it will total three terabytes of data. That amount could fill your average daily newspaper for the next 30,000 years -- and just about all of it needs to be available immediately to the massed hordes of journalists, commentators and other media folk covering these Games.

Some problems have already been reported; a demo of the Web-based ticketing application at an Atlanta press conference failed embarrassingly due to the weight of Internet traffic to the site, and the system that feeds results to the world's wire services has had its data described as "both late and inaccurate". However, things are said to be improving after a less-than-perfect start.

There are some other sites which are must-sees for the armchair Olympian. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's site gives plenty of local interest to go with the international news, including places to stay, history of the area and other things to see during one's virtual stay in Atlanta. Sports Illustrated are providing plenty of background information and history, including a rather nice piece of graphics work, the Multimedia Balance Beam Primer.

Closer to home, the BBC's Olympics Web site has plenty of information about the UK athletes and their performances, along with interviews, features and a quiz. It's also a good place to find out what's going on in some of the less well-known events and especially with the British athletes who aren't in the running for medals.

Finally, for an overview of the administration of the Games, visit the site of the International Olympic Committee; it includes information about the forthcoming Games in Nagano, Sydney and Salt Lake City, and a trip round the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.

IBM Olympic Site:

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Site:

Sports Illustrated:

BBC Olympics Site: [Site now closed.]

International Olympic Committee: