With all of the sports personalities who have found themselves in hot water after a miscalculated tweet, it’s no surprise the International Olympics Committee has set out strict guidelines for the athletes competing in London in 2012, and their guidelines are strict: a poorly thought-out tweet could result in a total ban from the Games.
In the social media guidelines [PDF] set out by the IOC, athletes may not tweet or post anything to Facebook that is in the style of journalists, but instead must stick to “a first-person, diary-type format” when they tweet. This means that they cannot tweet about any other competitor, athlete or official, and they cannot tweet commentary about the competitions. They’ve got to stick to personal “Today I had steak at the athlete’s village” type tweets.
Tweets and Facebook status updates that are vulgar or contain obscene words are also banned, as the guidelines expect all athletes to “conform to the Olympic spirit.”
Athletes also may not post audio or video taken inside the Olympic venues. However, they are allowed to take still photos for personal use and post them to Twitter as long as they are not using them for a commercial purpose.
The IOC is also pretty protective of its trademarks when it comes to social media. They are not allowing any athletes or officials to tweet using the word “Olympic” unless it is used as a “factual reference” and is “not associated with any third party or any third party’s products or services.” The Olympic rings are off-limits to anyone using social media. Participants may also not use the word “olympics” in the domain of their website unless they have prior permission from the IOC.
And the punishment for breaking any of these rules? Participants’ accreditation may be withdrawn, meaning they can be banned from the Games completely.