Olympics athlete blogging rules set

For the London Free Press Read this on Canoe

The International Olympic committee (IOC) recently announced its athlete blogging rules for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

There are still restrictions, but they are more flexible than those for the 2008 Beijing Games, which was the first time athletes could blog about their experiences.

That decision was made by the IOC only a few weeks before the games, and it wasn't something they particularly wanted to do. Rather, a number of athletes publically stated that they planned on blogging no matter what the official policy was. In response, the IOC quickly put together rules to control what athletes could and could not put in their blogs.

For the Vancouver Games, the IOC had more time to decide how to handle blogging. Athletes are not allowed to display the official Olympic symbol on their blogs --the well-known, five interlocking rings. Athletes can't display the official mascot of the games. And don't expect to see any images or videos of the action, either -- those are banned under the rules.

The IOC has stated that it "considers blogging . . . as a legitimate form of personal expression and not as a form of journalism." This position was no doubt taken in an attempt to not upset the media companies that pay so much money for exclusive rights.

But, truth be told, bloggers are quickly becoming the new age journalist. Some bloggers have found themselves with journalistic credentials to cover events.

Traditional media may be in knots over the impact of Olympic athlete blogs -- many people may prefer to hear about the Olympic experience from the perspective of the athletes themselves, rather than through a media filter.

The IOC has been very restrictive about what can and can't be put on a blog. In addition to banning mascots, symbols, or emblems, bloggers have to be careful where they even use the word "Olympic." They can't use the word in any way that would make a reader think the blog is trying to piggy back a product on the Olympic name. There are also restrictions on how athletes can describe games action.

It looks like the IOC is trying to embrace the Internet audience, without giving up too much control over how the games are reported.

One challenge is that the Olympics are only held every two years, and in that time, the Internet dramatically changes the way we view everything in the world, including sporting events.

Despite the restrictions, the IOC's decision to let athleted blog is a victory for Internet fans -- as if the IOC had a choice. Olympic blogging provides a view into the life of athletes that traditional journalists just can't deliver.

In the end, despite restrictions that some find unreasonable, the IOC may have reached a compromise that will keep everyone basically satisfied for now.