There’s been some concern following a report last week inferring that journalists would be banned from using social media at the upcoming 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games in Russia this February. “[Capturing the games in real time] will be considered a serious violation and will result in cancellation of accreditation,” Vasily Konov, a Russian sports journalist who works for the state-run news agency RIA, announced at a seminar for reporters covering the event last week. That means no Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, or whatever else.
However, it appears Konov spoke too soon. Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said that not only is social media allowed at the games, it’s encouraged. “Accredited media may freely utilise [sic] social media platforms or websites for bonafide reporting purposes.” He went on in a follow-up email to USA Today, “Please take as many photos as you like! Sharing pix on social media positively is encouraged.”
There was some controversy during the Summer Olympics in 2012, when tweets and Instagram images led to spoilers – although, plenty of that blame was also fittingly shifted to NBC broadcast delay. There was also a handful of racist and otherwise controversial tweets and Instagrams sent by competing athletes that put a damper on the games.
Still, the plethora of content that comes out of these two platforms can’t be denied. Athletes’ and reporters’ tweets and filtered photos served as a sort of sidebar, taking us deeper inside the articles and TV time spots – and to take them out of the conversation altogether wouldn’t only be a pain for those of us who like looking at them, but to the platforms themselves.
This isn’t the only controversy surrounding the Sochi Games. Russia’s negative attitude toward homosexuality has been much-discussed, and some gay athletes have decided not to participate in the competition. Social media has been very responsible for leading the charge against the Russian government’s homophobic policies, and there’s likely to be plenty more tweets, Instagrams, and whatever else during the games discussing this. Luckily, it appears reporters will have the ability to tweet and ‘gram away throughout.