November 15, 2013
Sochi Winter Olympics Won’t be Very Social
The 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London went down in history as one of the most social ever – as in widely covered on social media. In fact, for many Americans the problem wasn’t finding details on an event, but rather trying not to learn too much.
The Summer Olympics was a social media even unlike any other.
With the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games less than 100 days away, it might seem like it is taking place behind the Iron Curtain, or, as Fox News reported, “the 2014 Olympics might feel more like 1914.”
The reason is that journalists attending the games will be forbidden from using mobile phones and tablets to take photos. As Fox noted, “that means no iPhones, no Vine videos, no Instagram accounts sharing the minute-by-minute details of the events.”
Fans may also be banned from carrying in professional camera gear, and it is unclear if mobile phones and tablets will be banned from events as well.
While this certainly sounds like the games aren’t so much going to take place in Russia so much as the old Soviet Union, the truth is that London organizers considered a similar ban. In the months leading up to the London games, there was serious talk of banning social media posts, and stopping fans from taking photos and more importantly videos.
The reason isn’t to save you from knowing who made it to the gold medal round until it airs in prime time – but for NBC, which is paying huge dollars to cover the event, it is just a bonus. No, the real reason is the fact that NBC – among other broadcasters world wide – is paying a huge sum of money to be the exclusive carrier.
Much of this is actually coming from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), not Moscow. The London Games press kit noted the following rules on the recording of video:
“Participants and other accredited persons cannot post any video and/or audio of the events, competitions or any other activities which occur at Olympic Venues. Such video and/or audio must only be for personal use and must not be uploaded and/or shared to a posting, blog or tweet on any social media platforms, or to a website.”
What this means is that only professional-level photo and video equipment will be allowed, and only by those to fully accredited journalists! The problem has already gotten so bad that Human Rights Watch is monitoring the games – and not to see who wins on the ice or the slopes.
According to reports, two Norwegian journalists were “detained, harassed, and threatened” with prison for reporting on a trip to Sochi. The men were stopped six times by the police and even brought into custody. The interesting part is that the crew was from Norway’s TV2 television station, which is the official broadcaster in Norway for the Sochi games.
“The government’s treatment of TV2’s crew should shock the International Olympic Committee,” said Jane Buchanan, associate director for Europe and Central Asia at Human Rights Watch, in a statement. “The IOC needs to demand a full explanation from the Russian authorities about the bullying of an Olympic broadcaster’s staff and insist that no other journalists suffer this kind of intimidation and harassment.”
To those heading to Sochi as athletes, good luck remains the customary send off, for those covering the games – good luck and have your papers in order! Oh, and maybe leave the smartphone in the hotel.
Image Credit: Thinkstock