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Chapter 8: Making IT Happen

The Olympic Games have become one of the world’s greatest technological showcases. 1984 Los Angeles would see the first public introduction of e mail.

IBM’s Olympic involvement dated back to 1960 – when the results were managed by 35 technicians, punch cards and a single, large computer. By the end of the century IBM would send 2,000 people to the Games, to work with a further 4,000 volunteer technicians – only to see the whole system collapse in front of the world’s press – in what became one of the most high profile public relations disasters of all time.

The Internet took the world by storm, and by 2000 many were questioning whether the IOC’s broadcast dependent revenue model would collapse. The Sydney Games became a watershed for new media, and wake up call for much of the investment banking community, as the IOC demonstrated what was possible, and what was not. The IOC’s World Conference on Sport and New Media, held December 2000 is still seen by many as one of the defining moments in the industry, with the Wall St Journal likening the significance of the event ‘to that of the Congress of Vienna, which carved up Europe after the Napoleonic wars. The issue being sliced and diced this time is whether downloading sports event in to a computer is any different from broadcasting those same events into a tv set.’

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