Commentary

IOC Launches Site for Olympic Athletes, Fans

The 2012 summer Olympics in London will be the first fully “social” event in the history of the games, thanks in part to an aggressive social media strategy pursued by the International Olympic Committee. The latest addition is a social media platform, the Olympic Athletes’ Hub, that’s intended to bring together Olympic fans and athletes and concentrate social media resources for both.

 

The OAH aggregates social media feeds from more than 1,000 Olympic athletes, including real-time updates of content from their Facebook and Twitter accounts; the site will also host online chats with athletes. Fittingly, a leader board shows which athletes currently have the most Facebook fans (LeBron James currently leads with over 14.3 million). Visitors to the site can also get athletic training tips and videos and compete for prizes based on social interaction.

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As noted in previous columns, the London games organizing committee has formulated a comprehensive social media strategy -- including rules governing how the veritable army of 70,000 unpaid volunteers may use social media during the games.

 

According to the guidelines issued by the Organising Committee, volunteers are forbidden to disclose any information about their own personal role, their location, or any information about athletes, celebrities, or visiting dignitaries. This includes posting any pictures, videos, or statements about VIPs who may be visiting athletes “backstage,” as well as any images of the backstage area itself. Volunteers should also avoid posting breaking news about athletes or getting into any discussions about the games online. On the plus side, they can retweet or repost official postings from the London 2012 social media team, which is supposed to provide centralized control of social media content through the site described above.

 

On the athletes’ side, the International Olympic Committee is looking to leverage social media drive engagement, in part by encouraging competitors to “post, blog and tweet their experiences” during the London Olympics. But the IOC is also at pains to protect the commercial interests of broadcast and merchandising partners. Accordingly, athletes won't be allowed to use social media, including Twitter, Facebook and personal blogs, for advertising, selling products, or sharing videos from the Olympic venues. The IOC instructions read: “Postings, blogs or tweets should be in a first-person, diary-type format and should not be in the role of a journalist. Participants and other accredited persons cannot post any video and/or audio of the events, competitions or any other activities which occur at Olympic venues.” In other words, people who want to actually see what athletes did will have to tune in on TV, or an associated online property.

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