Access puts many on the same page Internet, Web sites provide instant info

July 18, 1996|By Kevin Langbaum | Kevin Langbaum,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

When it comes to Olympic coverage, the traditional media are limited. Newspapers come out daily. Television news airs only several times a day. Even NBC's Olympic broadcast, all 172 hours of it, can't bring every event to our television sets.

With more than 10,000 athletes from 197 countries competing in 271 events, something will be missed.

But the Atlanta Games will have a different twist. For the first time, you can have instant access to constantly updated results, breaking news, athlete profiles and the most obscure facts about the most obscure Olympic sports. Available 24 hours a day. Right at your fingertips.

For about a year and a half, Olympics-related sites have been popping up on the Internet and are fast becoming one of the most popular sites on the World Wide Web.

"Anybody who has a reason to be covering the Olympics is. There's a lot of good stuff out there," said Adrian Lurssen of Yahoo, Inc., an Internet navigational directory and search engine. "If you want something very specific that you're not getting on the news, you can find it. It's an example of the Web working well. If you want to find out about the Kenyan Olympic team, you can. If you want to visit Michael Johnson's home page, you can."

Lurssen said there are hundreds of Olympics-related sites in Yahoo's database and more are created every day. The Olympics are one of the 10 categories most frequently searched for in Yahoo, he said.

Everyone remotely connected to the Games seems to be jumping online. The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee, media outlets and Olympic sponsors have set up Olympic Web pages.

"We want this to be the most accessible Olympics ever," said Ronda Rattray, the content coordinator for the ACOG page, a joint venture with IBM. "It's one of the few things that everybody in the world can have an interest in one way or another. It covers a wide range of interest around the world."

The ACOG page went live in April 1995 and averaged about 10,000 hits per week, Rattray said. Now, it can expect to receive up to 800,000 hits each day, she said.

"It will be accessible to everyone," Rattray said. "It's there 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

The global reach of the Internet and the Olympics, as well as the immediacy and convenience of information on the Web, make the two a perfect fit. Results can be posted as soon as the events are completed, and news stories can be added to the pages as soon as they break. Rattray said still photographs from the venues, up to 300 or 400 a day, are fed into the computer every 15 seconds.

"The Olympics are the biggest news story to hit Atlanta in a long time," said Nancy Nethery, director of the interactive studio at the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, which operates the newspaper's Olympics page. "It was a natural for the Web."

The Internet is also interactive, a plus for the readers and those operating sites, Nethery said. She said the paper receives requests for certain information that readers want on the Web page, and a lot of times it is added.

"We're handling tons of e-mail," she said. "It feels like a more personal medium. The communication element is really important."

ACOG took advantage of the interactive element, offering browsers a chance to buy Olympic tickets online. Several sites have an interactive store selling a wide range of Olympic memorabilia as well as trivia contests and polls. One of the first Olympic-related topics on the Web, according to Yahoo's Lurssen, was people looking to find or rent out a place to live.

L "It's kind of stunning how much is out there," Lurssen said.

Olympic websites

Don't miss

The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games and IBM's official Olympic site: Learn the rules, history and top players for every Olympic sport, follow the Torch Relay, read up-to-date news and results and take a virtual tour through the Olympic sites. You can even buy tickets online. http: //www.atlanta.olympic.org

The Atlanta Journal and Constitution's Atlanta games page: Everything an out-of-towner traveling to Atlanta needs to know, including the top 10 restaurants in metro Atlanta. Also sport-by-sport news and updates, schedules and live chat rooms. http: //www.atlantagames.com

ESPNet SportsZone: Click on Olympics from the main menu to get news stories, features, biographies and day-by day Olympic Trial results from all 29 sports. You also can read diaries from selected Olympic athletes. A good place for up-to-the-minute results once the games begin. http//espnet.sportszone.com

Worth seeing

It's Atlanta!: A good place to go when you're trying to get somewhere else. This page offers links to ticket-ordering sites, Atlanta information and the home pages of some national and international sports governing bodies. http: //www.com-stock.com/dave/

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