IBM opens Olympic Surf Shack to the public

Developed by IBM, the official technology partner and sponsor for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, the IBM Surf Shack was officially launched on 7 September and will open to the public on 8 September.

Located at Darling Harbour, the floating café houses more than 50 IBM PCs and ThinkPads. Fans who visit the Surf Shack will be able to send e-mail messages to athletes using IBM's FanMail service, surf the official Olympic Web site (www.olympics.com) or learn about the IBM technology implemented for the Games.

According to Eli Primrose-Smith, IBM's vice president of worldwide Olympic and sport sponsorship, the Darling Harbour facility marks the first time IBM has made the Surf Shack available to the public.

The concept was first launched in the Olympic Village at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996 and, following its success, another was opened in the Olympic Village at Nagano in 1998, Primrose-Smith said.

According to Primrose-Smith, the Athletes Surf Shack at Sydney's Olympic Village was opened on 2 September. All athletes can visit the Shack to write and respond to FanMail, surf the Web or play interactive games. Close to 4000 athletes have already visited the Athletes Surf Shack since its opening and more than 500 have created personal Web sites for fans to access, she said.

Athletes from Argentina, Canada, Yugoslavia, Nigeria and the US have been visiting the Shack regularly, she added. The majority of the Australia Olympic Team is yet to move into the Village.

FanMail, launched in July, links fans to athletes competing at the Games. By visiting the Web site at www.ibm.com/fanmail, fans can send messages to athletes or teams. Athletes can respond to messages and build their own homepages. Additionally, the Web site provides visitors with information on what's happening in the Olympic Village and Athletes Surf Shack, homepages built by athletes and a view of the Athletes Surf Shack.

The Darling Harbour Surf Shack will be open daily beginning 9 September from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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