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IOC embraces “social media Olympics” despite negative incidents

Tweet whatever you like during the Olympics—it’s not like the IOC can stop you anyway. 


Kris Holt


The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is still encouraging people to share thoughts about the London Games on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere, despite a number of incidents that have caused consternation.

The first so-called “Twitter Games” have been marred by broadcast interruptions from spectators tweeting too much, death threats towards an Olympian, and a journalist’s temporary suspension.

However, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the organization is pushing fans to discuss the Games on Web communities, admitting that the IOC would be powerless to halt social media usage anyway.

“As you know the IOC, the Olympics we have about 15 million social media fans and I think [local organizers] are doing something similar,” Adams said Tuesday, according to Reuters. “To be frank, it’d be a little bit like King Kanute even if we said these aren’t social media Games, because everyone’s decided they are anyway.”

On the athletes’ side, two Olympians were expelled over racist tweets, Team USA soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo was censured for criticizing an NBC broadcaster, and U.S. athletes protested an Olympic rule regarding advertising.

Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter bans athletes from promoting a company that is not an official Games sponsor without permission, which they say affects their income.

“I don’t think we have any major concerns, as you know those rules, such as Rule 40, have been around for a long time before social media,” Adams said. “[If] an athlete makes a comment which contravenes those rules as has happened, we will take action. Used in the right way, we embrace social media.”

Meanwhile, Twitter revealed that more than 10 million Games-related tweets have been posted since the start of the Olympics. That’s 100 times the tweet volume the community saw during the Beijing Games four years ago.

The sport with the most overall mentions is volleyball, though Twitter told CNN it didn’t differentiate between beach volleyball and indoor volleyball. Perhaps those bikinis have something to do with it.

Photo by MagPhoto2011

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