Coaches and Team Managers may need to implement rules to eliminate the risk of social media derailing athlete performance at the London Olympics.
The problem was highlighted at the diving Test Event in London where athletes were tweeting during competition.
Diving officials stopped the use of social media during the competition that doubled as a World Cup event once they learned it was happening.
One athlete's tweet read “I’m a novice. I will stop tweeting next round. Distraction!”
Clearly athletes are distracted when they should be totally focused on their sport.
Some sports have already put restrictions in place. Cycling Australia, under the guidance of their Media Manager, Gennie Sheer, has stopped athletes using phones and other communication devices during training sessions and competition.
Gennie emailed the AOC saying “the cycling team has a no calls, no SMS, no Twitter, no Facebook etc in the pits during competition or training sessions. Seemed to work well for us” Sheer said referring to cycling’s own London Test Event experience last week.
The use of social media is certainly not banned at the Games- in fact it is encouraged, but athletes are urged to use it responsibly and during downtime in the Village. Under the A.S.P.I.R.E. values, members of the Australian Olympic Team are entitled to express a point of view.
The incident with the divers came just days after the Team Management Meeting in Sydney where the dangers of social media were explained in detail.
Under the Team Agreement, which all athletes and officials must sign, the AOC will not be legally liable for anything written or said or for any moving images posted on social media sites by an athlete, coach or official.
They are personally responsible for any defamatory comments made. The Team Agreement includes an indemnity against the AOC being joined in a defamation case.
Blogs like tweets must conform to the Olympic spirit, be dignified and in good taste and not contain vulgar or obscene words or images.
AOC- Director Media & Communications