Online coverage of the Sydney 2000 Olympics will disappoint most users, because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has "mismanaged" the distribution of online rights, according to a report.
Eric Scheirer, an analyst at Forrester Research, believes that surfers looking to relive golden moments from Sydney 2000 will be sorely disappointed by the lack of video coverage online.
Websites dedicated to this year's event concentrate almost totally on news reports, statistics and competitor profiles. There are no webcasts of events, either live or recorded, nor more than a handful of multimedia clips of medal-winning performances from the night before.
Online journalists have also been refused press accreditation, leading to a dependence on pool reports from news agencies.
A vnunet.com search of the official Sydney 2000 website, and those of broadcasting companies in the US and UK, found no video clips and just one audio clip recounting a medal-winning performance from the previous day in Australia.
Moreover, the clip in question lacked comment from the athlete herself or any live recording of her performance, but was instead a BBC radio interview with fellow cyclist Chris Boardman on team mate Yvonne MacGregor's bronze medal ride in the Women's 3000m pursuit.
Indeed, in the US, where Olympic TV broadcasts are being recorded to show up to 18 hours later to fit into US prime time TV schedules, only tiny segments of video are being shown on the NBC Olympics website - and only after having been shown first on TV.
"The IOC and [US TV broadcaster] NBC has chosen to minimise internet coverage... worrying that internet coverage would cannibalise TV audiences and jeopardise ad revenues," said Scheirer.
However, he predicts that nationalistic pressures and the prospect of greater online ad revenue will ensure that this will be the last Olympics to suffer from limited coverage on the internet."The IOC's mismanagement can't persist - nationalistic pressure and the promise of higher advertising revenues will lead to more openness," said Scheirer.
"National sports governing bodies all over the world have been demanding that the IOC open the digital rights to the games. There is an IOC meeting scheduled for November, which will hear grievances and re-evaluate digital policy."
Forrester predicts that this meeting will lead to "greatly expanded online coverage" with online journalists allowed access for the 2002 winter games and Athens 2004 featuring broadband-dedicated digital feeds.
"Athens 2004 will be the broadband Olympics. Internet sports fans will be able to watch every minute of every event that interests them," said Scheirer.
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