You thought your IT budget was big. The price tag for IT and communications at the world’s biggest sporting event will run to around US$400 million and use the expertise of thousands of IT managers and engineers.

Live testing has already started on systems for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, which officially run from Aug. 8 to 24.

“To reduce risk, there will be a lot of tests before the games,” said Hou Xinyi, deputy director of the technology department at the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad.

Testing is key to the success of the IT systems during the games. Each sport is allocated its own set of IT gear, and each of those systems will be tested between now and the start of the games.

IT systems will have to track all aspects affecting athletes: qualifications, transportation to competition sites, ensuring uniforms and equipment arrive on time as well as tallying scores for press and spectators. Within that time, 10,708 athletes from 203 countries will also have to be housed, fed and protected by a staff of workers who will need to be screened and accredited for security.

But IT will have an even bigger job. Nearly 20,000 reporters and other media will attend the Olympic Games as well as workers and fans. All will create demand for IT work, including venue administration, information distribution, network security, e-mail, Internet and mobile access to scores, logistics, commentator information systems and more. 079028