Winter Olympics Embrace Social Media
By Tracey Dowdy
The 100 day countdown for the Sochi Winter Olympics has started. To celebrate this landmark, the IOC has launched an Olympic Athletes Hub that allows you to follow the athletes via your social media accounts.
This is a marked change from London’s 2012 games where audiences were forbidden to record video, and any photos taken at Olympic venues and shared via social media were under the IOC copyright. This time, recognizing that social media has become a viable source for news and information, the IOC has changed its stance and developed the Hub and a free app which is now available for both Android and iOS.
Over 5,000 athletes have already signed up and have verified accounts allowing them to connect with one another as well as directly with the IOC. Fans that download the app are connected to a database searchable by athlete, sport, country, game, or team. When you go to an athlete’s profile, you can see his or her Instagram, Twitter and Facebook posts all aggregated in one location. Click-through buttons allow you to instantly follow them via Twitter. Once the games kick-off on February 7, 2014, athletes will even participate in live chats directly from the Olympic Village.
Claudia Boekel, herself an Olympic silver medalist in fencing and the current Chairperson of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, states, “The new app and updates unveiled today are the latest example of the IOC’s continued efforts to connect athletes with their fans. The Hub is a great tool for us athletes to interact with the public and even amongst ourselves. The new additions make it even easier for us to communicate in fun, innovative ways.”
All this gives us unprecedented access to the athletes and the Olympic experience. During the 2012 Olympics. I followed several athletes via Twitter and it changed the way I saw them. Instead of seeing them as celebrities, I saw them as ordinary people with extraordinary skills and talents. After all the years of getting up early to hit the gym, the track, or the ice, we’re able to follow them as they see all that hard work pay off with the opportunity to compete on the world stage.
Most of us will never grace an Olympic platform, but to connect at this level with an Olympic athlete allows us to vicariously experience the thrill of the competition, the agony of falling short and the sheer elation of victory. It becomes a shared experience between you, the athlete and your country.
Shaun White said it best, “You show up at the Olympics, and you're no longer you; you're an American Olympian. You're part of this greater whole, and the individual doesn't matter.”
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, Ontario. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology.