IOC takes to Twitter to explain Sochi media rules

The International Olympic Committee had to react quickly this week after a flurry of media outlets inaccurately stated that social media reporting from the 2014 Winter Olympic Games would be banned.

SOCHI, RUSSIA: The International Olympic Committee had to react quickly this week after a flurry of media outlets inaccurately stated that social media reporting from the 2014 Winter Olympic Games would be banned.

The reports were based on an announcement last Friday from Vasily Konov, the head of Russia's state-run R-Sport news agency, which said reporters' use of social media for coverage would be prohibited.

Konov reportedly said journalists using mobile technology to take photos or videos at the Games would be “kicked out.” News outlets stated that journalists would not be able to use their smartphones apps that can send updates, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Vine.

The IOC's official guidelines state that it “actively encourages and supports athletes and other accredited persons at the Olympic Games to take part in social media and to post, blog, and tweet their experiences.”

Video and audio coverage of the Games, however, is banned from social media, according to the rules.

The IOC promptly turned to Twitter to correct the flub, according to Mark Adams, the organization's director of communications.

“We immediately tweeted out and used social media to explain the mistake and posted the rules, which had not changed from [the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in] London,” Adams said. “We used very simple language, welcoming people to use social media, and posting the [unchanged] rules.”

The organization's response on social media largely “solved” the issue, according to Adams, who added that most Olympic beat reporters realized the initial reports were false right off the bat.   

“I don't believe there is any confusion among American journalists accredited to cover the Olympic Games,” said Mark Jones, senior director of communications for the US Olympic Committee. “As we saw in London, social media can and does enhance the overall coverage of the Games, and we're excited to see the many ways that journalists document the stories of Team USA in Sochi.”

The Olympics have faced similar communications confusion in recent years. At the London 2012 Games, media outlets wrongly reported that fans could not tweet during the events, but official guidelines only stated that photos and videos could not be uploaded to social media. However, the policy was not widely enforced.

At the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, a similar incident occurred, when American skier Lindsay Vonn relayed misinformation about not being able to post on social media during the Games to her 35,000-strong fan base on Twitter.

“We immediately tweeted out to her that all athletes could go ahead and use social media again -- problem solved,” said Adams.

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