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Monday, July 24, 2000
IBM starts fan mail via Olympic Web site

  SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- IBM began a new version of its Olympic fan-mail service Monday, and is now trying to settle a dispute with the Australian Olympic Committee concerning Internet addresses.

  The service is expected to handle 1 million e-mails for athletes during the games, which begin Sept. 15. The service started at the Atlanta Olympics, where athletes received about 100,000 e-mails.

  Using 60 computers set up in the athletes' village near Sydney's Olympic Park, Olympians will be able to receive and write e-mails in 28 languages.

  The Internet problem concerns the official Sydney 2000 Olympics Web site.

  IBM spokesman Rory Mack said the worldwide Olympic partner would ask the International Olympic Committee for its backing in a dispute with the Australian Olympic Committee over the similarity of Olympic Web site addresses.

  The Sydney 2000 site is www.olympics.com, which is powered by IBM. The AOC site, which started last week, is www.olympics.com.au.

  Mack said the AOC site could be confused with the official Olympic site.

  "We would hope the IOC would back the sponsor, us, and every other sponsor if there's any areas where there could be a threat of their marketing rights," he said.

  He said he hoped negotiations would resolve the issue without the need for legal action.

  AOC marketing director Peter Cracknell said Australian Olympic officials had been discussing the Web site with IBM and Sydney 2000 organizers for two years.

  Cracknell said the Australian team site would not infringe on IBM's marketing rights.

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