Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sister wins Olympic Bronze - Olympic Committee shuts up athletes

First of all, congratulations sister and Team Finland for Olympic Bronze medal! That was an awesome job you did in women's hockey at Vancouver. There are couple of things that made this very special for Terhi:
  • she was dropped off (for some reason that I don't really understand) from Finnish national team couple years ago and now she made an outstanding come back to international elite
  • she was participating Olympic games in Salt Lake City in 2002 and Torino in 2006, but never got a medal  - losing the Bronze medal game in these Olympics
  • she has been so determined, dedicated and focused into these Games in Vancouver, although she broke her finger just before Christmas - scaring her a while with a thought that she couldn't play in the Olympics
It has been very interesting to follow her closely and I'm sure that very few people in the audience really know what it takes before hand. They only see the best parts - the final result in the score board. I played around 50 games in first division, second level in Finland, long time ago, but I know it takes lots of sweat, blood and tears...Terhi has been one active (or perhaps the only one) Finnish athletes blogging during the Olympic games. 

Marmai.fi wrote (in Finnish) that it's a shame that Finnish athletes are not blogging. It's not a surprise because there has been contradictories from representatives of Team Finland. Reading Terhi's blog posts and tweets has made the whole hockey tournament and Olympics even more interesting. When I heard that there are rules for blogging, first I thought it was a good thing. After reading International Olympic Committee's blogging guidelines (pdf), I was stunned.
The more I think about it, the more angry I get.
You can read those guidelines for yourself, but to me it means that IOC is restricting athletes' freedom of speech. I give you a simple example: according to these guidelines, let's say two players in Team Finland, can't agree that they will do little video interview and put it online through a blog? I just don't understand why an earth these guidelines are so strict? 

IOC can't restrict spectators so why they are restricting athletes to communicate and interact with their fans? You can see thousands of tweets with hashtags like #olympics and #van2010. There are tons of links to photos and videos on site. People are creating buzz around this massive sport event and they are also linking to traditional media. The more buzz in social media - the more traditional media gets visitors. This should be a good thing also to Olympics brand - everybody wins, right?

I know that there should be some rules (for athletes), like there are rules in any sports. These social media rules can be good from privacy and copyright point of view. I totally understand that broadcasting during the individual sports events are dedicated to traditional media, but I don't understand why IOC is telling athletes what you can blog about and what's forbidden? 

Is traditional media jealous or scared about athletes being reporters as well? Why IOC has to defend traditional media companies? How does these rules support goals of Olympic movement, Olympic spirit and basic human rights? Olympics in Vancouver were probably the first social media Games ever. I know, and it's a shame, that many athletes were scared of these guidelines and they decided not to blog at all. 

I really hope that IOC will relax these rules for the next Olympic games and we will get more more content (text, photos, videos) straight from original source, athletes themselves. Not just stories that reporters do...As usual, let me know what you think about this - are those rules restricting one of our basic right and does IOC has a right to even create these rules?