The International Olympic Committee has issued a four-page guide to competitors which acknowledges the realities of 21st century communications by allowing “athletes’ blogs” at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, in a move which could make athlete-authored columns much easier to arrange for newspaper websites than at previous Olympics.
The new guidelines will be scrutinised closely during the Winter Olympics, and are sure to form the basis for the rules to be applied at the 2012 London Games.
“The IOC considers blogging, in accordance with these guidelines, as a legitimate form of personal expression and not as a form of journalism,” the new guidelines say.
According to a report on the subscription website AroundtheRings.com, those who break the rules could lose their Olympic accreditation cards and may face legal action for damages. The restrictions were approved by the IOC’s Executive Board earlier this year. They will come into effect with the opening of the Vancouver Olympic Village next February.
The guidelines are the latest development in IOC rules which have had to evolve rapidly, reflecting the growing appetite for first-hand accounts from Olympic competitors, and they mark a sea-change from the rules issued from Lausanne ahead of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where athletes were banned from blogging altogether.
“There are certain things you can’t do,” Bob Condron, a member of the IOC’s press commission, told AroundtheRings, “because you’re infringing on what the journalists can’t do inside the ropes. You can’t be covering news, because that takes the role of a journalist and is not what anyone had in mind.”
Rule 49 of the Olympic Charter states that, “Only those persons accredited as media may act as journalists, reporters or in any other media capacity.”
Athlete blogs remain subject to the IOC’s strict copyright rules and broadcasting rights agreements, and therefore are not allowed to use sound clips or video. Even photographs on the blogs are restricted, preventing any images from Olympic action or medal ceremonies. Interviews and news about other athletes are also prohibited. Blogs may not include Olympic symbols, such as the five rings. The word “Olympic” is allowed, as long as it is not associated with a third party or its products or services. Emblems of an National Olympic Committee or Vancouver organising committee are allowed if the blogger has obtained written permission.
The guidelines also include strict regulations on what advertising is, and is not, allowed on the blogs.
Another requirement is that the blogs be “dignified and in good taste”.
According to the guidelines, “In essence, bloggers post their blogs at their own risk and they should make it clear that the views expressed are their own.”