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Online Game Brings Olympic Experience to NZers


Visa Championships - Torino 2006 Online Video Game Brings Olympic Experience to New Zealanders

Gaming champion of New Zealand to attend the Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy, and compete in global championship

Auckland, October 10 2005 - Visa International has launched Visa Championships - Torino 2006, a challenging, free, online video game and international competition. Players from New Zealand can compete in three virtual Olympic Winter Sports to win a trip for two to the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games and a chance to be crowned global champion.

Visa Championships - Torino 2006 challenges players to master three Olympic Winter Sports online: Bobsleigh, Giant Slalom (Alpine Skiing), and Snowboard Cross (Snowboarding). Similar to an athlete's build-up to the Olympic Winter Games, players must progress through multiple preliminary rounds and then compete in a national competition. The New Zealand player with the lowest combined time across all three sports will travel to Torino, Italy, as a guest of Visa to attend the Olympic Winter Games and compete head-to-head against the other country winners on 15 February 2006.

The preliminary rounds begin on October 6, 2005 and the New Zealand national competition runs from 15 November 2005 through 15 December 2005.

Tom Shepard, executive vice president, Global Marketing Partnerships and Sponsorship, Visa International says as a forward-looking organisation, Visa is constantly looking for innovative ways to provide incremental value to cardholders.

"As the leading Internet payment brand, we recognised the potential of online video gaming to raise awareness of our Olympic sponsorship while providing a fun and entertaining means for consumers worldwide to engage with our brand," says Shepard.

The game incorporates unique, interactive features such as Visa-sponsored Olympic athletes, from the Team Visa and Gold Medal athletes programmes, who will provide coaching tips to players. At the start of the game, players receive a virtual Visa payment card with preloaded Visa sponsorship funds that can be used to purchase virtual performance gear. Additional virtual funds are earned by placing in the top three for each event. The coaching tips, which players receive for placing first, second or third in each run, and virtual gear can improve player performance and lower race times.

Visa is working closely with two Olympic sponsors, Lenovo and Panasonic, who will provide technical expertise and prizes at the national and international levels. Lenovo, the computing equipment supplier of the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, will award its new ThinkPad Z60m wide-screen notebook PCs to all runner-up New Zealand winners. Lenovo will also work with Visa to design and stage the global championships in Torino, with the final competition taking place on ThinkCentre A52 desktop PCs.

Panasonic will provide high quality DVD home theatre systems for the national winners, and HD plasma televisions and AV equipment to the global championships in Torino.

Visa Championships - Torino 2006 incorporates advanced game play features such as character development and persistence, by which players can retain and improve race times and gear, plus power, agility and speed skill points across play sessions. The online video game also incorporates localised elements for each participating country, such as language, Team Visa and Gold Medal athletes who provide coaching tips, a virtual payment card in their national currency, and national flags.

The 23 countries participating in Visa Championships - Torino 2006 are Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The game is available in 13 languages -- Chinese, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Kazak, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and Ukrainian. The Visa Championships - Torino 2006 game and competition rules are available at


Notes to editors:
About Visa Championships - Torino 2006: The Visa Championships - Torino 2006 online video game is a first from Visa as part of its Olympic marketing programme. It is a challenging, free international competition in which players from 23 countries compete in three virtual Olympic Winter Sports to win a trip to the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games where they will take part in the global finals of the game. Key dates include:

Preliminary rounds - 6 October - 14 November 2005

National competition - 15 November - 15 December 2005

Global Finals competition - 15 February 2006

National winners and their guests will arrive in Torino on 13 February 2006 and depart on 16 February 2006. In addition, to competing in the global finals, each winner and a guest will be hosted by Visa at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games, and will receive airfare and lodging for two, scheduled meals and tickets to two Olympic events for themselves and their guest. Details and rules of the game are available at

Only users who are legal residents of the participating countries, have registered, posted times in all three sports to the leader board, and are at least 18 years of age by 23.59 GMT on December 15th are eligible to win prizes. In addition, users must select the same country in which they reside to be eligible for prizes.

About Visa: Visa connects cardholders, merchants and financial institutions through the world's largest electronic payments network. Visa products allow buyers and sellers to conduct commerce with ease and confidence in both the physical and virtual worlds. As an association owned by 21,000 member financial institutions, Visa is committed to the sustained growth of electronic payment systems to support the needs of all stakeholders and to drive economic growth. For more information, visit

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