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IOC Releases Social Media Rules for Athletes at London Summer Games

June 27, 2011


If you happen to be an Olympic athlete on your way to the London Summer Olympic Games next year, you’ll be relieved to know that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has met to determine what you can Twitter...and what you can’t.

In guidelines released by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) today, the IOC said that it “actively encourages and supports athletes ... to take part in ‘social media’ and to post, blog and tweet their experiences.” (You know what’s about to follow should be taken with a grain of salt when social media is put in quotations, like it’s some sort of exotic dance.)

So here’s the official rules: Olympians MAY post about their experiences, their training, their background and say “Hi, Mom!” They may NOT include any kind of commercialism or selling in their Tweets. They also may not include any kind of x-rated content (this one seems pretty self-evident, but no doubt someone will fail on this.)

According to the guidelines, reported Reuters (News - Alert), bloggers and tweeters should stick to “first-person, diary-type formats,” must not report on events in the manner of journalists and must ensure their posts do not contain “vulgar or obscene words or images.”

The IOC learned some lessons at the last Summer Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008, when Twitter was still a reasonably new phenomena. While Chinese Olympic officials banned uploading videos and photos to prevent copyright infringements, the London games will allow photos, as long as they are not sold or “otherwise distributed.” Video or audio taken inside venues is still a no-go to avoid infringing on the IOC’s ability to sell the rights to broadcast events to the highest media bidders.

All social media activity must respect the Olympic Charter, which bans political demonstrations, though that is likely to be less of a concern in London than it was in Beijing.

Any athletes found to be breaking the rules of proper use of social media could be banned from the games.

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Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell