Olympic Games: Major sponsor ends backing after 38 years

THE MULTI-NATIONAL corporation, IBM, is ending its 38-year relationship with the Olympic Games, deciding after months of negotiations not to sign an eight-year deal with the International Olympic Committee, the company announced yesterday.

IBM, which spent more than pounds 60 million to sponsor the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, and provided much of the behind-the-scenes technology for free, wanted local Olympic organising committees to share the technology costs.

But the two sides never agreed on how much money should be paid to IBM or how much the company should do for free in exchange for marketing rights. IBM executives were upset by an IOC decision to seek a more profitable sponsorship deal for upcoming Games' Internet services and sites, a role IBM held in the last two Olympics, in Nagano and Atlanta.

The company supplied computers and staff to run Web sites, score boards and other technology. It promoted its Olympics involvement in television and print advertisements, but came under severe criticism for its performance in Atlanta, with the results delivery system incurring many problems and unable to meet its promises to news organisations.

IBM's sponsorship will end with the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia, and the decision means that the company will not be involved in the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

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