LOS ANGELES: Barack Obama (pictured) has turned the race for the White House into an Olympic event after reportedly buying $5 million (€3.19m; £2.51m) worth of advertising airtime from NBC Universal for TV spots to run during the Beijing games.

The ads are expected to be shown across the network – including cable channels – in August, when NBC will broadcast some 3,600 hours of Olympic coverage.

NBC Universal has reportedly sold around $900 million (€574m; £452m) of advertising for the games, around 90% of its inventory, and while it is not known how much Obama's deal with the network cost, the Hollywood Reporter estimates the average 30-second spot is selling for $750,000.

Democrat Obama's battle with Republican hopeful John McCain is set to yield the highest ever TV adspend for a presidential campaign, with the Campaign Media Analysis Group estimating the two candidates will shell out $800 million between them in 2008 (up from $500 million in 2004).

Data sourced from Washington Post Online; additional information by WARC staff