Searching for Olympic gold online

Under the agreement, LookSmart will create and maintain a custom-built directory for olympics.com featuring 13 different categories such as news, athletes, the Paralympics and future Olympics.

The deal is believed to be the first sponsorship contract for the official 2000 Olympics site which is controlled by the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG).

Olympics.com is a collaboration between SOCOG and IBM -- the official provider of Internet technologies for Sydney 2000.

LookSmart CEO Evan Thornley said with more than 10,300 athletes from around 200 countries competing at the Games, the Internet would be a key global information tool.

"LookSmart has become the global leader of Internet search and navigation infrastructure partnering with the leading web sites across the world because it offers users a robust suite of search and navigation products that are comprehensive, best-of-breed and flexible," Thornley said.

SOCOG's Internet business group manager Jonathon Rust said the committee expects olympics.com to register more than one billion page impressions throughout the Olympic period, which would make it the most popular sports event Web site ever.

"We are delighted to have an Australian-founded company like LookSmart working with us to help make a virtual seat at the Games a reality for millions of people around the world," Rust said.

Earlier this year, the Australian Open tennis site registered a massive 233 million hits during the two week tournament held in Melbourne. The result was up from last year's total of 139 million hits.

At its most popular time, site traffic reached a peak of 131,555 hits a minute - a 185% increase on 1999 figures.

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David Smedley

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