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Throttled by those five ubiquitous rings

By Alexandra Reid

The International Olympic Committee is launching a host of programs with the goal of making the 2012 London Games the “most social and tech-savvy Olympics ever,” but restrictive social media guidelines reveal the organization’s inability to move beyond its old and broken command-and-control communications model.

In its Social Media, Blogging and Internet Guidelines the IOC states 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.” However, such activity must respect the Olympic Charter and comply with a confusing and contradictory set of rules that tightly controls what they can share.

The program’s centrepiece, The Olympic Athletes’ Hub, will let Olympic fans track athletes’ activities across multiple social channels including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google Plus. The IOC is also launching a host of Tumblr blogs and a virtual Olympic Village where fans can discuss the events with athletes and former Olympians in real-time. A gamification element called the Olympic Challenge — a game that’s integrated with Facebook and Open Graph – will encourage fans to compete with friends and other fans in predicting the outcome of the Olympic events. Foursquare check-ins are also encouraged, so long as they are at off-site venues.

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