The sponsors’ Games

Even businesses will be competing in London

a woman

And so begins 16 days of sleepless nights (is that actually correct grammar?), as Australians come to grips with a 7 to 9 hour time difference between here and London.

The Olympic Games officially begin tomorrow morning our time and run through to 12th August 2012, and will feature more than 10,000 athletes from 204 nations.

Channel Nine will officially broadcast the games on free-to-air TV in Australia, and the opening ceremony kicks off at 5.30 am (AEST). The three hour ceremony is expected to be viewed by a global TV audience of 1 billion. Basketballer, Lauren Jackson, who is competing at her fourth Olympics, will carry the Australian flag and lead Australia into the Olympic stadium.

If you’re interested, The UK Met office has forecast a 10% chance of rain during the ceremony, and the Olympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville have been compared to giant Teletubbies. (Wenlock is apparently derived from the image of a drop of molten steel).

If you have Foxtel, which is apparently the official subscription TV broadcaster, you may have access to 8 new channels totally dedicated to coverage of the Olympics.

As well as getting to see loads of sports, expect to be inundated by advertising  from the official sponsors including the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA), AMP Limited (ASX: AMP) and Qantas Limited (ASX: QAN).

Even Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) has jumped in on the act, as an official partner of the Australian Olympic team but also official provider of the metal for the medals.

You can even download the official mobile app of the Australian Olympic Team for London 2012, which will show you sport schedules, medal alerts and results, the medal tally for every nation, daily highlights and individual profile cards on each of Australia’s 410 Olympic athletes.

Getting back to Channel Nine and its coverage of the Olympics.

The station will be hoping to reassert itself as the pre-eminent free-to-air TV network.  To do that, it will want to avoid a deluge of complaints like Channel 7 received during the Beijing Olympics for broadcasting AFL over the Olympics on a Sunday, delaying broadcasts of major events featuring Australian athletes and frequently showing ads during the Opening Ceremony.

The coverage of the Olympics will reflect not just on Channel Nine, but also the rest of the free-to-air stations. With websites around the world featuring real-time live coverage of events, viewers could turn to the mouse or the mobile and ignore the remote. A bad showing (sorry!) could be devastating for the stations as advertisers switch to pay-TV and other mediums.

Foolish takeaway

Usually the Olympics generates a feel good atmosphere, and it may even be enough to overshadow the current global economic issues, at least for 16 days. Good luck to the Olympic athletes and bring on the Games, Fools!

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned. The Motley Fool‘s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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