Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympics Draws Sponsors, Fans and Foes on Facebook

The 2010 Winter Olympics are set to begin on February 12 in Vancouver, Canada. The games, which include cross-country and alpine skiing, bobsled, figure skating, hockey and speed skating, are being promoted by a wide range of official Pages, sponsors, news organizations — and regular people have brought their takes on the Olympics to unofficial Pages.

The official Page for the Winter Olympics has been hyping the games on the Wall by asking some of the 394,000 fans questions, posting videos and updating fans on the Olympic torch relay with photos.

NBC’s official Olympics Page has almost 18,000 fans and has been frequently posting videos and stories, as well as promoting its mobile and Facebook applications, in preparation for the games’ opening ceremonies on February 12. It promises to “inform and engage” Olympic fans and includes a widget to watch the games from Facebook.

NBC also developed an application, Vancouver Olympics, that currently has more than 60,000 fans and is essentially a video box for NBC content from which users may see Olympics video, photos and news.

Visa, an official Olympic sponsor, also got in on the Facebook promotion for the Vancouver games with its Go World Page. With more than 15,000 fans the site has been promoting the games on its Wall but its most prominent feature is the Visa Go World tab, which hosts an array of videos featuring Olympic athletes, as well as information about Visa.

Budweiser is a sponsor of the U.S. Winter Olympics team and added an Olympics tab to their Facebook Page to feature athletes from the U.S. The tab promises to offer “exclusive” live-streamed content from the Olympics and asks Facebook users to vote in an Olympics-related poll.

News organizations are also using Facebook to supplement their traditional media coverage this year, notably the Associated Press (AP) and the BBC have set up Pages specifically for the 2010 Winter Games.

The APs’s Facebook Page is an extension of wintergames.ap.org, an online Winter Olympics content initiative that will collect online ad revenue from more than 900 news outlets. AP’s content includes schedules, results, photos, videos, news and the ability to share all of it with widgets on other Pages.

BBC’s Winter Olympics Facebook effort isn’t nearly as ambitious as AP’s site, focusing heavily on athletes affiliated with the UK. It includes a schedule of the Olympics and BBC’s planned coverage, some photos and videos but isn’t even linked to on the web site for BBC Olympics coverage.

Fans and critics of the Olympics have also gathered on Facebook to make a litany of opinions heard, ranging from standing up for indigenous Canadian’s rights to supporting Irish athletes.

Support The Irish 2010 Winter Olympic Team’s Facebook Page is dedicated to exactly what its name implies and is filled with mostly positive content in support of Ireland’s Olympic athletes. Similar Pages exist for the Olympics and particular groups of athletes therein.

Anti-Olympics groups organized for different reasons.

Olympic Resistance Network has almost 2,500 members who are claim to be organizing resistance efforts against the Winter Olympics, which they say are taking place on “unceded indigenous land” to the detriment of the native community. The group’s slogan is “No Olympics on Stolen Native Land.”

In a similar vein Boycott 2010 Winter Olympics with 100 members says the event is all about corporate greed, expanding tourism at the expense of indigenous lands, increases homelessness, gentrifies poor neighborhoods, increases the privatization of public services and union busting, as well as destroying the environment.