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Olympic traffic tripled over '96

Big Blue says the official Web site for this year's Winter Olympics generated nearly 650 million hits, a sign that the Internet continues to catch on.

The official Web site for this year's Nagano Winter Olympic Games generated nearly 650 million hits during the 16-day event, a sign that Internet technology continues to catch on, IBM said today.

The tally is nearly 3.5 times the 187 million hits for the Web site from the 1996 Summer Olympic games in Atlanta. The higher traffic also came without the technical glitches that caused some pundits to dub the summer games the "glitch games." In fact, it was the TV coverage, not the Net, that got dinged this time around.

The official Olympic Web site has been a big marketing tool for IBM, but it also allowed Netizens to receive real-time updates of the events on their home PCs. Many other sites were dedicated to the games as well, not only focusing on events such as the luge but the athletes themselves--skating gold-medalist Tara Lipinski, for example.

The site received 103,429 hits per minute on Friday during the women's figure skating competition and ice hockey game between Russia and Finland. All told, some 4.5 terabytes of data were transmitted through the site, according to IBM.

Big Blue plans to help develop the official site again for the Summer Olympics in the year 2000 in Sydney, Australia. "Sayonara Nippon!" the site read today.