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IBM's Web Technology Links Fans to the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano

FanMail and the official Web site for the Winter Games allow fans to support the athletes and follow the action

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ARMONK, NY - 14 Jan 1998: -- Two Web sites available for the Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, offer sports fans the next best thing to front-row tickets to every venue. IBM's FanMail ( http://www.ibm.com/olympic/fanmail/), which goes live today, provides fans worldwide with a direct link to their favorite athletes, while the official Nagano Olympic Winter Games Web site ( http://www.nagano.olympic.org/) offers them an unprecedented array of Olympic Games information, statistics and results from the comfort of their homes.

FanMail allows sports fans to send personal messages to their favorite Olympic athlete or team competing in the 1998 Olympic Winter Games, as well as read athletes' personal home pages. A friendly, animated penguin named Pudgy guides visitors through the site and helps them cheer on an athlete, a team, a country's entire Olympic team, all those participating in a specific sport or even all the athletes at the Olympic Games. (He can't, however, guarantee that any individual Olympian will respond!).

The estimated 3,000 Olympic athletes from over 80 countries and regions participating in the Nagano Games will be able to visit the Surf Shack, a hip cyber-haven in the Olympic Village designed in the style of a traditional tea house. There, using IBM Aptiva computers, they can connect to FanMail to read and respond to messages and create their own home pages. The Surf Shack will be open from January 24th to February 25th.

During their debut at the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, IBM's FanMail program and the Surf Shack were received enthusiastically by fans and athletes. Up to 500 athletes and coaches visited the Surf Shack daily to read thousands of messages of encouragement and inspiration.

"As the Worldwide Information Technology Partner for the Olympic Games, IBM is using technology to enhance both fans' and athletes' experience of the Games," said Elizabeth Primrose-Smith, Director of Worldwide Olympic and Sports Sponsorships, IBM. "The Internet is an exciting way to unite people with some of the world's greatest athletes in Nagano, Japan."

The official Nagano Olympic Winter Games Web site gives fans a virtual "front-row seat" for every Olympic Games event, athlete and country. Launched in November 1996, it provides a comprehensive, easy-to-navigate source of Olympic Games information, history, entertainment and results. IBM teamed up with The Organizing Committee for the XVIII Olympic Winter Games, Nagano 1998 (NAOC) to design this site, which -- with nearly a month before the Games begin -- has already received as many as one million hits per day.

The NAOC site, which is linked to FanMail, will provide fans with athlete biographies, the latest results for all athletes and all sports, action photos from all competition venues and Olympic Games news. Currently, the official Winter Games Web site has a wide variety of features, including:

IBM is the Worldwide Information Technology Partner of the Olympic Games and acts as the systems integrator and a major provider of the various applications and technologies used to stage the Nagano Olympic Winter Games.

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* IBM and Aptiva are registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation.

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