Pundits are predicting this will be the first Internet Olympics because of the explosion in web browsing and the fact logging on for sports news is now one of the key uses of the internet
Sydney is nine hours ahead of London so even mainstream sports during Septembers 2000 Olympics wont be shown live during peak viewing periods. Instead, media experts are predicting that millions of people will get their Olympic news in their morning email, or via the official website or for the less mainstream sports, such as cycling from consumer facing specialist sites such as procycling.com, gofar-mtb.com or bikemagic.com.
This year’s Games are certain to dwarf previous Internet records with tens of millions of people set to go online each day for results, commentary and vital statistics.
Even for those watching live television coverage, the Internet will be a necessity plugging the gap for events that may not make it to the screen, giving enthusiasts the chance to swap views and satisfying a thirst for trivia.
"This will be the event that really sees the Internet come of age. It will be definite proof that the Net is a critical part of any sports coverage," Franklin Servan-Schreiber, director of new media at the International Olympics Committee told Reuters.
And its likely to be the biggest test of the net yet.
Will the web cope when a worldwide audience plugs in at the same time and in many different languages?
IBM, the technology heavyweight behind the official Olympics Web site (www.olympics.com), is bracing itself for well over a billion hits. Millions more virtual spectators will tap into linked sites like www.sydney2000.com and a host of other sites giving their own Internet coverage.
"We’ve built the largest and most complex infrastructure available on the Web," Laurie Courage, IBM’s director of Internet strategies and Web events, told Reuters.
"Olympics.com will be one of the most highly trafficked web sites and more than ever before, fans will have a virtual seat at the Games.
IBM knows all too well what is at stake if things go wrong.
At Atlanta, gremlins were at work: Australian roadie Bradley McGee was credited with a world record 24 hours before the cycling got underway!
While Sydney is not strictly the first online Olympics — both the Nagano 1998 Winter Games and Atlanta 1996 Summer Games had official Web sites — it is being heralded as the real "Internet Olympics" due to the explosion in global Net use.
There are now 275 million Internet users globally, compared to just 40 million four years ago.
This is expected to reach 450 million by the end of the year and research shows that sport is one of the main passions of web users along with stocks and sex.
THE OLYMPIC CYCLE VENUES
Mountain Bike Course
Venue capacity: 20,000
Location Fairfield: City Farm, Abbotsbury
Distance from Sydney Olympic Park: 32km
Accessible features: accessible pathways and viewing areas, supported by a limited accessible shuttle service
Distance from Sydney City: 46km
23-24 September (Days 8-9)
Designer Glen Jacobs describes the mountain bike course as "explosive." And with excellent vantage points for spectators, it will offer a visual feast for fans of this Olympic extreme sport.
Spectators will be concentrated around an elevated area at the start and finish line. But they can also wander (read: bushwalk) to various viewing areas which are sited at the most exciting and challenging sections of the course.
The demanding seven-kilometre cross-country course includes a mass start and difficult technical sections, including high-speed turns, steep drops and single-track paths as narrow as 50 centimetres.
The course is located on a 350-hectare working farm near Fairfield on the outskirts of Sydney, which is used to educate city school students in farming work and life. The area was once a rural district, but is now mainly residential and industrial, with a bustling commercial centre supported by its vibrant Indochinese community.
Special care was taken in the design of the course to minimise its impact on the environment. The course has been examined by environmental groups to ensure its design and construction are in harmony with the existing flora and fauna.
Road Cycling Course, Centennial Parklands
Venue capacity: unlimited
Location: Driver Avenue, Moore Park, Centennial Park, Queens Park, Waverly, Bronte
Accessible features: wheelchair access
Sydney’s eastern suburbs will provide a picturesque setting for some frantic action in the road races and time trials.
The start-finish line for all road cycling events will be on Driver Avenue in front of the Sydney Football Stadium and in the shadow of the historic Sydney Cricket Ground.
The road race will head north from the start line and turn left onto a newly constructed road across the top of Moore Park before heading south to Randwick. From there the course travels through the leafy suburbs adjacent to Centennial Park, up the hill beside Queens Park and then down to Bronte Beach.
At Bronte Beach the field will head back towards the finish travelling through Charring Cross, down the northern side of Queens Park and then into Centennial Park itself.
Sweeping out of Centennial Park the field will ride onto the 700-metre finishing straight.
Men will race 14 laps of the 17.1km circuit for a total of 239km in a little more than five hours in the saddle. The women’s race will complete seven laps in around three hours over a distance of 120km.
The time trial will be raced on a similar but shortened course. The loop from Queens Park to Bronte is not included but additional roads within Centennial Park have been added.
Men will race three laps of the 15.6km course (46.8km) and women two laps (31.2km).
The climb up Bronte Road could prove decisive in the final stages of the road race and spectators are expected to gather here to support their favourite cyclists. Spectators for both events will be able to set up in Queens Park and Moore Park to view the action or in beautiful Centennial Park. All these areas will be managed with spectator facilities and a public-address system to provide race updates.