The Internet and other new media will continue to play an ever-growing role in the interaction between the Olympic Movement and its publics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) predicted today in Lausanne. The IOC stated, however, which media are applied, how, and at what rate will depend on the development of technologies that allow the IOC to sustain the financial viability of the Olympic Movement and the Games themselves.
This prediction came out of the two-day IOC World Conference on Sport and New Media Conference that brought together over 700 leaders in sport business and administration and experts in traditional and new media for what is believed to be the first time. The conference studied the increasing impact of emerging media on the sports world.
‘The IOC always works in the future – we’re already working on the 2008 Games – so we have always taken a reasoned approach to futuristic opportunities. The new media offers many. We will continue to be vigilant so we can apply what is appropriate for the times so all constituents benefit,’ commented the IOC President.
‘Today the IOC is already using the Internet and other new media to improve our information flow and operations. We are trying to determine how to apply some of the more imaginative applications of new media to enhance the fans’ experience without diminishing our ability to sustain the Olympic Movement and the Games. The fact we brought the sports world together with leaders of the new and traditional media for the first time shows how aggressively we are going after a solution,’ said Richard W. Pound, chairman of the IOC Marketing Commission and Internet Working Group.
The IOC already successfully uses internet and other new media. The IOC last year launched an Extranet to allow the 200 National Olympic Committees to access information and cross-fertilize ideas and practices. The IOC uses the Internet to provide virtual tours of the Olympic Museum’s exhibits. More people visited the Museum over the Internet last year than did so in person. It is also working with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee to offer tickets to the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. So far, 99 percent of the tickets purchased have been bought over the Internet.
A number of issues remain unresolved in terms of using the Internet as an entertainment medium to present the Olympic Games. The IOC renewed its challenged to the technological community to overcome the biggest hurdle: maintaining the territorial integrity of internet coverage. During the Olympic Games in Sydney, there were experiments run in the United States and Australia broadcasting Olympic-related vision over limited access Internet networks.
Several conference participants admitted that, in the short-term, the delivery of video free of charge to the widest possible audience is only realistic through television. The IOC also recognized that most people access the Olympic Games information through television. While 3.7 billion people watched some part of the Olympic Games on television, only 20 million unique visitors used the Web to access Games-related information.
In the short-term it is likely the IOC will continue to work with its broadcast partners to determine how best to capitalize on new media technologies to enhance the broadcast experience for the fan. Not only are there benefits to such coordination, e.g., one medium can drive viewers to access content on the other in a seamless fashion, but each broadcast partner can help determine which technology is most appropriate for its local culture.
In terms of news coverage, the IOC will work with interested parties to determine a workable news access policy for the new media, perhaps in time for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. In the past, the IOC developed a similar news access policy for non-rights holding television broadcasters so they could cover the Games while not being able to broadcast the events.
The IOC World Conference on Sport and New Media was organized by the IOC in association with SportBusiness Group and Dow Jones Conferences.
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