Obstacles In Way Of Online Olympics

According to International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice president Dick Pond, it’s not the technology but the high cost of live video coverage of Olympic events that will prevent sports fans from seeing the Olympics on the Internet in the near future.

In a Toronto Star report, Pound admitted that the technology is there, but the problem is money. The audience isn’t big enough to justify the cost, despite the fact that 40 to 50 million people are expected to visit the official Olympic Web site during the Sydney Olympics.

Pound said “is that growing, is it an impressive number? Yes, but it’s still only one per cent of the TV audience”. He added that the number of people with high-speed Internet access that would make live video practical to watch is even smaller.

And the only way to reach fans in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America is by way of TV, radio and newspapers. Also TV broadcasters who have paid hundreds of millions of dollars for the rights to show the Olympics in their countries are worried about the value of those rights decreasing if people can get their fix elsewhere, said Pound. That’s why the IOC’s contracts with broadcasters don’t allow anyone to put live video online.

But with all these obstacles the IOC is still holding a summit devoted to new technology this winter in Switzerland. As Pound said “it’s definitely the wave of the future”.

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