The Olympics would be wise to embrace athlete blogs, not just permit them

The English-language China blogosphere is crowded, interconnected, and decidedly lacking in jocks. All the more reason to see what Olympic athletes have to say about their experience in China this summer. Luckily, the IOC, after forbidding athlete bloggin

The English-language China blogosphere is crowded, interconnected, and decidedly lacking in jocks. All the more reason to see what Olympic athletes have to say about their experience in China this summer. Luckily, the IOC, after forbidding athlete blogging in the past, has lifted its ban. Kudos, but a little more vision would really bring the Olympics into the digital age.

Imagethief, whose post reminded me of the news, says, "It will be interesting to see if this becomes a route to expression for athletes who have something controversial to say but don't relish the idea of a 1968-style from-the-podium hell-raiser." Indeed, though it's hard to tell whether officials on the Beijing side were involved in this decision, the possibilities for under-the-radar controversy will be much greater with blogs. I'm sure most athletes won't want to jeopardize their ability to compete by prodding at China, but some very well might.

The IOC, however, seems more concerned with maintaining its stranglehold on images of the games, something like Major League Baseball's ritual admonition that you can't even think about baseball without their express written consent. Blogging by "accredited" individuals--athletes and officials--is "personal expression," they say, not journalism, and the people under IOC's jurisdiction are forbidden to show any sporting action from their own eyes.

I just think that's a pity. Imagine if IOC decided to host athlete blogs instead of simply allowing them, including pictures and video of gymnastics floor routines shot by rivals and teammates! Imagine the page-views! Meanwhile, this means that a valuable perspective is consigned to being filtered through journalists. If athletes could just post their commentary, why would all these reporters really be so necessary? I work as a journalist so perhaps I shouldn't undermine my colleagues, but I'd rather hear from the athletes themselves.

About the author

    Formerly a journalist and consultant in Beijing, Graham Webster is a graduate student studying East Asia at Harvard University. At Sinobyte, he follows the effects of technology on Chinese politics, the environment, and global affairs. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network, and is not an employee of CNET. Disclosure.

     

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