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Olympic athletes speak out over IOC social media rules

The 2012 London Olympic Games has provided a veritable goldmine of social media news in recent months.

With a Twitter account which currently boasts over one million followers, and a Facebook page with over 2.9 million Likes, no one can accuse the Olympic team of not utilising social media to connect with fans.

However some athletes are apparently unhappy about the strict rules that have been put in place regarding social media use, intended to prevent athletes from damaging the Games' image or from providing information that would usually be the domain of official Olympic broadcasters.

"Why would you want to handicap a form of media that only increases exposure for your event?" said American sprinter Nick Symmonds in an interview with Mashable published July 17.

"If you’re trying to make these the most watched Games in the history of the world, why would you take the people responsible for that history and say, ‘Hey, you can’t do that, you can’t share?’ Limiting it seems so stupid."

Symmonds, who specialises in the 800 metres and 1500 metres events, seems to believe that athletes deserve more freedom when it comes to utilising Facebook and Twitter to communicate and share original content with the public.

However this is not a clear cut issue and it is understandable that the IOC wants to ensure its social media strategy goes according to plan.

In the IOC Social Media, Blogging and Internet Guidelines for participants and other accredited persons at the London 2012 Olympic Games, the IOC states that it encourages the use of social media.

However the guidelines go on to point out that this activity should respect the Olympic Charter, and emphasises that it not be used for commercial purposes.

"As a general rule, the IOC encourages all social media and blogging activity at the Olympic Games provided that it is not for commercial and/or advertising purposes and that it does not create or imply an unauthorised association of a third party with the IOC, the Olympic Games or the Olympic Movement," reads the document, which is available for viewing on the Olympic Games website. 

Posted by Zak Wash