Sport on the internet: Watch and listen with wire on ice

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The Independent Online
Nagano might have come in for criticism as a venue for the Winter Olympics, but it has a lot going for it as a virtual location on the Web - easy access, facts and figures, video highlights, and browser-testing software.

In the run-up, the performance of the official Web site was shaky. However, on the eve of the Games it started to work properly. Given that it's a graphically rich site, information on the results, venues, events, athletes and countries is reasonably quick to access.

Text-based information is the first port of call, but via the news page there is a RealAudio feed to the Olympic FM radio station which is broadcasting in English, French and Japanese until 22 February.

Similarly, a Web-based television channel, with archive material going back to October is up and running. Both TV and radio feeds rely on your browser having RealPlayer 5.0 plug-ins installed - links to appropriate download sites are provided.

For those with muscular PCs and a lot of patience there is a 3D virtual tour of the venues. Links for the necessary software are provided, although guarantees of it working with any particular system are not. The downloadable screensaver poses less technical problems.

Away from the official site, the indispensable, though improbably named Yahoo! Internet Life: Wire and Ice Guide to the Winter Olympics is a comprehensive collection of resources for access to results, reports and a sport-by-sport guide which should prove useful to anyone ignorant of the new events such as curling and snowboarding or NHL fans keen to see how their version of ice hockey differs from the Olympic version. There are also links to the traditional Web sports sites such as CBS, CNN and ESPN.

To send fan mail and search for athletes' home pages the animation-heavy IBM Fan Mail page is worth a visit. British bobsleighers Richard Budgett and Lenny Paul have their own pages linked from here, but Alberto Tomba's home page is absent.

If you're fed up with the views of reporters and athletes you could always try following the Olympic diary of a spectator and volunteer at the Games. Jim, an American living and working in Japan for the past four years, has such an online diary. "I present a clear, unclouded perspective free of bias, prejudgement, or an over-reliance on truth," he writes. Could be a refreshing alternative to official Web site ideologies.

ADDRESSES

Nagano 1998 Official Site http://www.nagano.olympic.org/index.html

Yahoo! Internet Life: Wire & Ice Guide To The Winter Olympics

http://www.zdnet.com/yil/content/mag/9802/olympictoc.html

IBM FanMail http://www.fanmail.olympic.ibm.com/

Official Alberto Tomba Web Site http://www.alberto.tomba.it/e/ index.html

Nagano Olympic Diary http://www2.gol.com/users/jhoadley/nagano.

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