Athletes tweet @Olympics
February 14th, 2010

Thanks to laptops, cell phones, and other new technology, social networking could be the route the next transformative Olympian uses to get the word out.

[via Dan Gillmor on Twitter]
[Winter Olympics 2010 in full flow, Here is the Olympics Tweetmeme]

Daily News reporter Eddie Pells of the Associated Press reports in the Sports section of the Philadelphia Inquirer that the earlier confusion about Twittering athletes at the Olympics has been solved by the International Olympic Committee putting out a four-page blogging guideline that supplements Rule 49 of the Olympic charter, which essentially states that only journalists can act as journalists at the Games, while athletes and coaches cannot.

Skaters, skiers, hockey players, and the reporters who cover them now have almost instant access to their fans and readers at what has long been, for better and worse, one of the most grandiose stages for message-sending.

Hundreds of athletes have Twitter and Facebook accounts ( )with plans to use them during the 17-day sports festival.

They will give friends, family, fans, and, yes, reporters updates on their training and competition, random musings, pictures, links to their Web sites, and other peeks behind the Olympic curtain that the public can’t usually see.

It will save them time on the phone, help them build their fan base, and allow them to get their message out, unfiltered by the so-called traditional media. It might also serve up a bit of instant gratification when the grind of training and waiting takes its toll.

Meanwhile, the traditional media are using social networking to try to build audiences that have been fragmenting of late.

Knowing the social-networking craze was coming, the International Olympic Committee put out a four-page blogging guideline that supplements Rule 49 of the Olympic charter, which essentially states that only journalists can act as journalists at the Games, while athletes and coaches cannot.

The addendum says blogs are permitted so long as they are diary-like in nature, don’t include live action or ceremonies, and don’t give “newsy” updates such as injury reports or information about rivaling countries.

Bob Condron, a spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee, said posts on Twitter – with their abbreviation-inducing 140-character limits – are considered allowable by the IOC, which didn’t specifically mention the site in its rules.

“The IOC considers blogging, in accordance with these Guidelines, as a legitimate form of personal expression and not as a form of journalism,” the rule states.

Prohibited in that personal form of expression, however, are any attempts to promote non-Olympic sponsors – a sticking point between the Olympic powers and athletes who often struggle to cash in on the success of their Olympic journeys.

Oh, and there is the ever-present reminder not to use the Olympics as a political stage – a rule that has long been the crux of a sticky debate on whether the Olympics are just a simple sports festival or something much more.


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