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Worldcrunch

Perils Of Olympic Tweeting: Greek Athlete Kicked Off Team For Racism

PRESS ASSOCIATION (UK), APPRESSE CITRON (France) DIE WELT (Germany)

Worldcrunch

One would think composing the mini "Twitter bio" for Jamaican 100-meter dash superstar Usain Bolt would be simple enough: "Fastest man on the planet" That covers it, no? But never underestimate the never-humble Olympian. Here's the subtle social network CV he chose instead:

The most naturally gifted athlete the world has ever seen.

Kingston, Jamaica

That is just one tasty preview as the London 2012 is shaping up as the first-ever Twitterlympics. To its fans, the 140-character social media platform is the perfect way to bring the Olympic village to the masses, in real-time, and straight from the athletes themselves. 

But on Wednesday, Twitter's dark side revealed itself in London. Triple jumper Voula Papachristou was kicked off the Greek Olympic team following an uproar over racist comments about African immigrants she wrote on her Twitter account, AP reports. The tweets came as she was already in London for final training before the Games began, while other posts in recent months turned out to show support for Greece's extreme-right Golden Dawn party. The Hellenic Olympic Committee later announced that it had banned all Greek athletes from expressing personal opinions not related to the Games on their social media accounts.

Earlier this month, Sebastian Coe, President of the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012 (LOCOG) thinks Twitter is bad for athletes. He told British news agency Press Association that the social network “might ruin the medal chances" of some athletes once the games begin on July 27.

Coe added: “I personally believe that there is a correlation between the number of tweets sent during the competition and the low results of the athletes.”

Winner of the Olympic gold in the 1,500 meters in the 1980 Moscow Games and the 1984 Los Angeles Games, Coe has his own Twitter account with more 43,000 followers. However, in his opinion, social networks “can affect the athletes in the most important periods of their careers.”

You can read the official London Games' guidelines for blogging and the use of the Internet here.

Die Welt reported that to avoid any confusion amongst German Olympians, all 391 athletes competing in the Games received a 20-page brochure providing details “about what’s allowed and what you need to watch out for to avoid problems resulting from violating official regulations.” To avoid situations like their Greek counterparts are facing, the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) has encouraged athletes to channel their thoughts through its  Facebook and Twitter accounts specially-created for the Games.

Meanwhile, on a brighter Twitter note, the 2012 Olympic Committee announced that “The London Eye” will be enlightened with the Olympic and Twitter colors, Presse Citron website reports. According to the French source, the structure will flicker every night in real time, based on positive or negative tweets about the Olympics. For example, if 75% of the comments are positive, the London Eye will be lit to three quarters.

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