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Tweets May Interfere with Athletes' Prep and Competition During London's 'Social Media Olympics'

July 24, 2012


There’s some concern about the number of tweets being sent out by athletes during the Olympics this summer.

Too many tweets may distract the athletes from preparing and competing in their sporting events, news reports warn.

"I have found quite a close correlation between the number of tweets at competitive times and the level of under-performance," Sebastian Coe, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the 1,500 meters, who is now a member of the UK House of Lords, told The Associated Press. "From a personal perspective, when I was an athlete I just wanted complete and total focus. I knew it was my time and that they don't come around that often. If I was focusing on trying to defend a title I wouldn't be reading Twitter (News - Alert), I wouldn't be interested in it. Why would I?"

Andy Murray, a tennis player from the United Kingdom, agreed. "You don't want to be on it (Twitter) too much," Murray said. "It's a bit like sitting on a computer 20 minutes, 30 minutes before your match. You wouldn't be advised to do that. The same applies with tweeting or mobile phones, I would have thought."

Australian shooter, Alethea Sedgman said social media may be a good way to stay in touch with relatives and friends. "But sport-wise, it's better to focus without Facebook (News - Alert)," Sedgman said.

Also, UK tennis player, Elena Baltacha advised to be sensible while tweeting. Do not tweet “as you walk onto court," The AP quoted her.

Some nation’s Olympic teams are following official guidelines regarding the use of Twitter and Facebook. One of these comes from the British Olympic Association (BOA), representing 542 athletes. These include use of obscene words and improper posts. It also cautions the athletes not to give rivals extra information that could benefit them. "Your rivals may be reading," the BOA was quoted by The AP. "Other competitors may gain confidence if they read any comments you make about poor form in training, feeling tired, upset or low on confidence."

But no Olympics ever had a greater presence of social media. The 2012 Olympics in London are being called the “The Social Media Olympics,” according to a report from New Media Rock Stars. For example, @Olympics has over 30,000 followers, and the official Google (News - Alert)+ account has over 600,000 fans. The Games haven’t even begun.

In addition, the International Olympic Committee is offering an interactive website called the “Olympic Athletes’ Hub.” Fans and athletes interact via Tumblr, Foursquare (News - Alert), Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The site has over 2,000 athletes signed up. The site has easy to use profiles of athletes, too. There are also online chats with athletes via "Inside the Olympic Village.” And there are social games called the "Olympic Challenge." Fans here offer predictions on which athletes will win.

As of Tuesday, the hub identified the top-followed athletes as: LeBron James, United States, 17,365,600 fans; Kobe Bryant, United States, United States, 13,635,660 fans; Roger Federer, Switzerland, 11,192,664 fans; Rafael Nadal, Spain, 11,047,487 fans; and Neymar (Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior), Brazil, 10,786,037 fans.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman