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Thu Apr 24 23:44:32 SAST 2014

Facebook puts fans in driving seat at Games

Reuters | 19 June, 2012 08:240 Comments
Olympic rings, mounted on a barge, pass the Tower of London as they move east along the Thames river to celebrate 150 days until the games begin, in London February 28, 2012
Image by: Ki Price / REUTERS

Social media site Facebook launched its London 2012 page on Monday which the International Olympic Committee (IOC) hopes will help simplify the event for fans.

The Explore London 2012 page, 18 months in the making, and the culmination of a partnership with the IOC and the London Olympic Organising Committee (LOCOG) will enable users online access to their chosen athletes, sports and countries.

“I think that anything that simplifies, or makes it a little bit easier to understand or follow the people you like, has got to be a good thing,” IOC Director of Communications Mark Adams said.

The IOC said the page was part of a non-commercial project with Facebook.

Facebook will be subject to the strict rules which govern Olympic sponsorship, marketing and videos, meaning they will not display advertising around its Explore London 2012 page and athletes will not be able to post videos of themselves in the Games venues.

Facebook’s EMEA director of platform partnerships Christian Hernandez said the Olympics had previously been a “curated experience”, with broadcasters dictating what viewers outside the stadium could see, but that was set to change as the social media age handed users the power to decide what they want to watch.

The Facebook page will show users the full range of different competitions being staged at any time and enable them to see which broadcasters are showing the event, and in some instances, let them click straight through to watch it online.

“You’ll be able to consume the Olympics the way you want,” Hernandez said at a launch event held in Facebook’s trendy London head office, and attended by 1992 Olympic tennis gold medallist Boris Becker.

There will also be a deeper view of life in the Olympic village, as competitors post comments, photographs and videos on the Explore London 2012 page, giving fans the inside line on their Games experience.

“In the past, stories that were not headline-worthy, they could never reach the public. At this Olympic games, no story will go untold,” Facebook’s managing director in EMEA, Joanna Shields said.

The page, which counts Australian five-times Olympic gold medallist swimmer Ian Thorpe and Britain’s 5000 metres world champion Mo Farah among its participants, has a long way to go, however, before every viewer can follow their chosen sports heroes.

To date, only about 200 of the 10 500 competitors expected in London have signed up, said Facebook.

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