The 2012 London Olympics promise to be the social games in more ways than one. Twitter is now all encompassing and most of the 10,000+ athletes who are competing at the XXX Olympiad will be tweeting.

What this means though is a potential PR nightmare for the Games. As we know the one thing the International Olympic Committee loves is control and you have very minimal control over tweeting athletes.

With conventional media be it radio, TV or print they had more control because the media companies didn’t want to flout the rules otherwise they could risk losing their accreditation. The IOC could punish the individual athlete but this most likely will be once they have already finished competing.
As with any sporting event there are bound to be umpiring or refereeing mistakes which results in massive controversy. Think if there had been twitter around for

 

The IOC has created some rules for the use of Social Media by athletes during the Games. Most of the athletes aren’t going to have all of the rules in mind when they are tweeting.

There is also the issue of how we put athletes up on a pedestal and make them out to be something they aren’t. Let’s be honest a lot of people who tweet do so inappropriately and do so without thinking. We all have friends whose tweets cause us to shake our heads. So why should a 22 year old who can swim fast or throw something far always tweet with the correct twitiquette? Most of the athletes are young, passionate and temperamental. Just like all of us, they are prone to tweeting without counting to 10 and that is where the problems start. It isn’t an athlete issue – it’s a human issue.

The way their tweets are detected is that someone who follows them retweets it and if this happens a number of times, a journalist will pick it up and run with it. From there, the other media will report on it and it will make its way up the chain.
It is up for the athletes to be sensible.  There was already the incident with two Australian swimmers posing with guns and posting it onto Facebook. That was clearly done without thinking and as we know people often tweet without thinking.

While the IOC may be able to clamp down on a few of the bigger social media faux pas by athletes, there are going to be thousands of smaller lower profile ones that slip through the net.

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