The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, which start this Friday, will feature the most extensive use of online media of any Olympics to date.
In 2004, there were some video highlights available; in 2000, the online coverage was pretty much limited to still pictures and schedules of television coverage.
NBC, which holds exclusive TV rights to the Games, will inundate TV viewers with coverage for the duration of the event. But if you want to escape the TV room and enjoy Web coverage, there are numerous choices.
The main Web destination for all things Beijing this month is NBCOlympics.com. This is the mother site for more than 2,200 hours of video coverage of the games, as well as blogging, daily recaps and analysis of performances. No doubt the NBC main site will see heavy use. If you care to find alternative news sources, here are some other worthwhile links:
•The US Olympic Committee maintains a full site devoted to the Games. It’s at www.usoc.org/ . It includes plenty of video and photos, plus a healthy share of feel-good profiles of U.S. athletes.
•The New York Times created a sprawling and visually-rich special Olympics section. It’s at nytimes.com/pages/olympics2008/.
•Care to learn how the Games are covered in the People’s Republic? This is the main site developed by the China news service Xinhua: www.chinaview.cn/08olympics/ index.htm. The top story there this past Wednesday: Beijing’s weather is expected to be cooler than usual during the Games.
•The “official” Olympic Committee Web site will also add some useful details, at www.olympics.org .
•One step closer to the action, the “official” site of the Beijing organizers of the Games can be found at http://en.beijing2008.cn/. (That’s the English version. If you read Mandarin, remove the “en” from that URL to get the Chinese language version.) This site is very helpful for anyone traveling to Beijing, as it provides maps and instructions on finding venues and obtaining tickets.
• If you need a very detailed list of events during the games, this is the link: http://bit.ly/SeHza.
• USA Today has a smart site, loaded with graphics and quick updates, at usatoday.com/sports/olympics/beijing/.
We enjoyed seeing one story there headlined: Catching Up with Decathlete Dan O’Brien. Many in these parts remember that Spokane native O’Brien won a gold medal in the decathlon in the 1996 Games. He now is offering track and field coverage for NBC.
• These Games are shrouded with the politics of outrage by groups who view China as a repressive regime that needs to be confronted during this moment of intense publicity. The Dream for Darfur site, at www.dreamfordarfur.org , is the best known example of the use of Web publicity and politics.
This site urges fans of the Games to protest the role the Chinese government has played in supporting the alleged Sudanese genocide in Darfur. The site offers ways for viewers and Web users to protest; for instance, TV-watchers can sign a pledge to stop watching TV commercials of sponsors who have not taken a position on the Darfur problem.
• Another blog is The Rings, a behind-the-scenes NYTimes.com site dedicated to looking at the less visible side of the competition and ceremonies in Beijing. The link is http://olympics.blogs.nytimes.com/.