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London Games to Be First Social Media Olympics

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Posted: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 2:20 pm

LONDON (AP) — Tweet this: The London Games will be the first Olympics told in 140 characters or less.

The London Games will be the most tweeted, liked and tagged in history, with fans offered a never before seen insider’s view of what many are calling the social media Olympics, or the “socialympics.”

Hash tags, (at) signs and “like” symbols will be as prevalent as national flags, Olympic pins and medal ceremonies. Some athletes may spend more time on Twitter and Facebook than the playing field.

Mobile phones have become smarter, laptops lighter and tablet devices a must-have for technology lovers — meaning social-savvy fans, whether watching on television or inside the Olympic stadium itself, will be almost constantly online.

Organizers expect more tweets, Facebook posts, videos and photos to be shared from London than any other sports event in history. The 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver offered just a small glimpse of what’s to come.

“Vancouver was just the first snowflake,” said Alex Hout, the International Olympic Committee’s head of social media. “This is going to be a big snowball.”

Twitter is already braced for a surge of traffic. Launched in 2006, it has become a key outlet for sports fans to trade messages during live events.

Users sent 13,684 tweets per second during a Champions League soccer match between Barcelona and Chelsea in April, a record volume of tweets for a sporting event — busier even than the 2012 Super Bowl. Chances are good that will be one of the records broken in London.

“It could be the 100-meter final or something unexpected,” said Lewis Wiltshire, Twitter U.K.’s head of sport.

At the last Summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008, Twitter had about 6 million users and Facebook 100 million. Today, the figure is 140 million for Twitter and 900 million for Facebook.

“In Sydney (2000) there was hardly any fast Internet, in Athens (2004) there were hardly any smartphones, in Beijing hardly anyone had social networks,” said Jackie-Brock Doyle, communications director of London organizing committee LOCOG. “That’s all changed. Here, everyone has all that and will be consuming the games in a different way.”

Later this month, at trials in Calgary for Canada’s Olympic track and field team, athletes will even wear Twitter handles on their bibs — encouraging fans to send messages of support as they race.

Sponsors have also taken their Olympic campaigns online. Coca-Cola, Cadbury, Visa and BP are among those using Facebook to reach younger consumers. Samsung is even offering to paint the faces of Internet users with their national flag — virtually, of course.

“They key difference from four years ago is that now almost everyone has a smartphone, which means everyone can participate in real time,” said Adam Vincenzini, an expert at Paratus Communications, a London-based PR and social media marketing agency. “You used to have to be sitting at your desk to access various social media platforms. Now you can have your phone or tablet on your lap while you watch, whether that’s at the pub or the stadium.”

The IOC, with 760,000 Twitter followers and 2.8 million on Facebook, will host live chats from inside the Olympic village with athletes, allowing the public to pose questions using social media accounts. It has already created an online portal, called the Athletes’ Hub, which will collate posts from their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Under IOC rules, athletes and accredited personnel are free to post, blog and tweet “provided that it is not for commercial and/or advertising purposes” and does not ambush official Olympic sponsors and broadcasters. Social media posts should be written in a “first-person, diary-type format.”

What about spectators using their phones and iPads to take photos and video?

“There is no problem with photo sharing,” Hout said. “We encourage it. But monetizing is not allowed.”

“People are allowed to film. They’re allowed to do that on their phones,” he said. “The thing that we ask is that content is not uploaded to public sites.”

The reason is to protect the exclusivity of the broadcasters who shell out big money for the rights. NBC, for example, paid more than $1 billion for the U.S. rights to the London Games.

“We encourage the use of social media. We encourage athletes to engage and to connect,” Hout said. “There are some rules to follow, there’s no question about it. But we don’t police the fans, we don’t police the athletes. We don’t do that. What we do is we engage.”

Facebook launched an Olympic page on Monday that groups teams, sports, athletes, broadcasters and in one place. The site has pages dedicated to specific Olympic sports and links to Facebook sites for 60 national teams and 200 athletes, including Michael Phelps, LeBron James and David Beckham.

LOCOG also plans to announce new Olympic tie-ups with Twitter and Google.

But London Olympic organizers have drawn up strict rules for their employees and the 70,000 Olympic volunteers. They have been told not to share their location, any images of scenes in areas that are off limits to the public, or details about athletes, celebrities or dignitaries who they find themselves in contact with.

“We are not stopping people from using social sites,” Brock-Doyle said. “We say there are lots of things about your job — procedures, places you’ll be and do — that remain confidential. There are elements of your job you can’t share with wider groups of people.”

Athletes, too, will need to navigate the social media world carefully.

Australian swimmers Nick D’Arcy and Kenrick Monk have already been punished after posting photos of themselves on Facebook in which they cradled pump-action shotguns and a pistol in a U.S. gun shop.

The Australian Olympic Committee ordered them to remove the photos immediately. The swimmers have been banned from using social media for a month starting July 15 and will be sent home the day the Olympic swimming program finishes.

The British Olympic Association has offered advice to its own athletes, suggesting that “a few smiley faces and LOL’s (online speak for laugh out loud) will make you seem more approachable and encourage more people to talk and ask you questions.” What not to do: “Don’t get into disputes with your audience.”

British swimmer Rebecca Adlington, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a leading medal contender in London, has spoken out about abuse she has received about her physical appearance from some users on social media sites. She has already blocked the worst offenders from being able to contact her, but insists she won’t stop using Twitter, where she trades dozens of messages a day with more than 50,000 followers.

“I’m insecure about the way I look and people’s comments do hurt me,” Adlington said in a message posted on Twitter.

While some athletes prefer to tune out from social media to concentrate on their competition, others embrace the opportunity to interact with their fans.

“Letting people know what I’m eating, how I’m sleeping, what the venues are like — people want to know what we’re going through,” U.S. gymnast Jonathan Horton said. “They want to know what it’s like going through the experience and what we’re up to.”

All in 140 characters.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Area Scoreboard

Area Sports Schedule

American Legion Baseball

Ninth District Senior Legion Tournament

Thursday, July 17

At Westhoff Park

G1 (1) West 11, (8) Pacific 1

G2 (4) St. Charles 17, (5) Elsberry 2

At St. Peters Rec-Plex

G3 (3) Washington 4, (6) Wentzville 0

G4 (2) Daniel Boone 8, (7) St. Peters 2

Friday, July 18

At St. Peters Rec-Plex

G5 Elsberry 8, Pacific 3

G6 St. Peters 9, Wentzville 1

At Westhoff Park

G7 St. Charles 4, West 1

G8 Daniel Boone 7, Washington 4

Saturday, July 19

At St. Peters Rec-Plex

G9 Washington 9, Elsberry 4

G10 West 9, St. Peters 6

G12 West 14, Washington 1

At Westhoff Park

G11 St. Charles def. Daniel Boone (fft)

Sunday, July 20

Rest at Westhoff Park

G13 Championship — West 2, St. Charles 1 (13 innings)

Monday, July 21

G14 If-Needed Game — St. Charles 13, West 11

Zone 1 Senior Legion Tournament

At Lindenwood University, St. Charles

Thursday, July 24

G1 West 13, Daniel Boone Post 262 8

G2 Jefferson City Post 5 11, Hannibal Post 55 2

Friday, July 25

G3 West 11, St. Charles Post 312 1

G4 Daniel Boone 10, Hannibal 2

Saturday, July 26

G5 Jefferson City 9, West 2

G6 St. Charles 11, Daniel Boone 0

G7 West 6, St. Charles 2

Sunday, July 27

G8 Championship — West 11, Jefferson City 0

G9 If-Needed Game — Jefferson City 14, West 12

Jefferson City advances to state tournament in Sedalia.

Ninth District Junior Legion Tournament

Tuesday, July 8

At Union High School

G1 (1) Elsberry 3, (8) New Haven 0

At Ronsick Field

G4 (3) Washington 7, (6) Wentzville 1

G4 (2) Union 8, (7) Hannibal 1

At St. Peters Rec-Plex

G2 (5) St. Peters 8, (4) St. Charles 6

Wednesday, July 9

At New Haven

G5 Wentzville 4, New Haven 0

G6 St. Charles 8, Hannibal 7 (9 innings)

At Ronsick Field

G7 St. Peters 5, Elsberry 2

G8 Washington 2, Union 1

Remainder at Ronsick Field

Thursday, July 10

G9 Union 7, Wentzville 1

G10 Elsberry 3, St. Charles 2

Friday, July 11

G11 Washington 12, St. Peters 11 (10 innings)

G12 Elsberry 6, Union 3

Saturday, July 12

G13 Elsberry 4, St. Peters 3

G14 Championship — Washington 3, Elsberry 1

Washington wins district, to host Zone 1 Tournament at Borgia. Schedule below.

Junior Legion Zone 1 Tournament

At Borgia

Thursday, June 17

G1 Elsberry Post 226 10, Chillicothe Post 25 2

Friday, June 18

G2 Washington Post 218 5, Elsberry 1

G3 Chillicothe 5, Elsberry 4

Saturday, June 19

G4 Championship — Washington 16, Chillicothe 0 (5 innings)

Washington advances to State Tournament in Jackson.

Junior Legion State Tournament

At Jackson

Thursday, July 24

G1 Jackson 3, Springfield Glendale 2

G2 Eureka 7, Sedalia 0

Friday, June 25

G3 Jackson 8, Washington 3

G4 Springfield Glendale 8, Sedalia 3

G5 Jackson 4, Eureka 2

G6 Washington 8, Springfield Glendale 0

Saturday, June 26

G7 Eureka 11, Washington 10 (9 innings)

G8 Championship — Jackson 7, Eureka 6

Jackson advances to Regional Tournament in Leavenworth, Kan.

Sunday, June 27

G9 If-Needed Game — G8 winner vs. G8 loser, 1 p.m.

Freshman Legion Ninth District Tournament

Tuesday, July 8

At Elsberry Legion Field

G1 (1) St. Charles 7, (8) St. Peters 0

G2 (4) Elsberry-Winfield 4, (5) Wentzville 3

At Elsberry Khoury League Field

G3 (3) Hannibal 3, (6) Warrenton 2

G4 (2) Washington 10, (7) West 1

Wednesday, July 9

At Elsberry Khoury League Field

G5 St. Peters 17, Warrenton 6

G6 Wentzville 5, West 4

At Elsberry Legion Field

G7 St. Charles 10, Elsberry-Winfield 2

G8 Washington 3, Hannibal 0

Remainder at Elsberry Legion Field

Thursday, July 10

G9 St. Peters 11, Hannibal 9

G10 Elsberry-Winfield 13, Wentzville 4

Friday, July 11

G12 Elsberry-Winfield 8, St. Peters 3

G11 Washington 6, St. Charles 0, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 12

G13 St. Charles 10, Elsberry-Winfield 1

G14 Championship — St. Charles 5, Washington 2

Sunday, July 13

G15 If-Needed Game — St. Charles 2, Washington 0

Missouri Freshman

Legion State Tournament

At Rotary Recreational

Complex - Ronsick Field

Wednesday, July 16

G1 Creve Coeur Post 397 16, St. Robert Post 331 2

G2 Ste. Genevieve Post 150 4, St. Charles Post 312 0

G3 Jackson Post 158 1, vs. Springfield Glendale Merchants 0

G4 Washington Post 218 9, Eureka Post 177 4

Thursday, July 17

G5 Springfield Glendale 11, St. Robert 1 (St. Robert eliminated)

G6 St. Charles 10, Eureka 2 (Eureka eliminated)

G7 Ste. Genevieve 4, Creve Coeur 2

G8 Washington 12, Jackson 10

Friday, July 18

G9 Jackson 12, Springfield Glendale 0 (Springfield Glendale eliminated)

G10 Creve Coeur 8, St. Charles 3 (St. Charles eliminated)

G11 Ste. Genevieve 3, Washington 2

G12 Creve Coeur 11, Jackson 7 (Jackson eliminated)

Saturday, July 19

G13 Washington 8, Creve Coeur 3 (Creve Coeur eliminated)

G14 Championship—Washington 5, Ste. Genevieve 2

Sunday, July 20

G15 Championship Game 2—Washington 3, Ste. Genevieve 0

Great Midwest Football League

July 19

Missouri Cyclones 34, Illinois Justice 0

Swim Team Schedules

Washington Swim Team

Date    Opponent    Time/Result

6-9    at Oaks Landing    Washington 192-100

6-16    Westglen    Washington 259-206

6-23    at Fox Creek    Washington 311-225

6-30    at Chadwick    Chadwick 264-258

7-7    Cherry Hills    Washington 291-140

7-11 at Division Meet, Westminster Christian First

Pacific Swim Team

Date    Opponent    Time/Result

6-9    Lake of the Woods    LOtW 176-130

6-16    at Union    Union 289-220

6-23    Bridle Creek    Pacific 371-124

6-30    at Arbor Oaks    Pacific 282-241

7-7    at Indian Hills    Cancelled, weather

7-12    Division Meet    First

Union Swim Team

Date    Opponent    Time/Result

6-9    at Arbor Oaks    Union 180-120

6-16    Pacific    Union 289-220

6-23    at Lake of the Woods    LoTW 312-201

6-30    Indian Hills    Union 322-275

7-7    Bridle Creek    PPD

7-12    at Division Meet, Pacific    Third

Pacific Diving Team

Date    Opponent    Time

6-14    at MAC West    MAC West 40-30

6-21    at Lindgate    Lindgate

6-28    at Cool Dell    9 a.m.

7-13    at Championships    8 a.m.

*Indicates League Games

Racing News