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Olympics to athletes: Go ahead and tweet

Amid some confusion over guidelines, the International Olympic Committee reiterates that competitors are free to blog about their personal experiences at the games.


The International Olympic Committee on Friday made it clear that athletes should feel free to share their experiences via Twitter at the upcoming Games in Vancouver.

In a post on its own Twitter feed, the IOC pointed to its detailed rules (PDF) for bloggers, but summarized its position with the succinctness called for in a tweet.

"Athletes go ahead and Tweet as long as it is about your own personal experience at the Games," the IOC said on the microblogging site.

Some Olympians, including skiing star Lindsey Vonn, had expressed confusion over the policies. At one point, Vonn suggested on Twitter and Facebook that she would not be able to continue her frequent tweets during the games because of a blackout period.

"Hey everyone, because of the Olympic rules (blackout period) I will not be able to post any updates from now until March 3rd," Vonn wrote on her Facebook page. "Sorry, it bums me out too! Even though I won't be able to write to you I can still get your messages so keep them coming!"

Various Olympic organizers have tried to clear up the misunderstanding with tweets of their own, pointing to the IOC's new blogging guidelines, which apply to all accredited attendees, including athletes, and allow blogs so long as they reflect one's own experiences as opposed to a journalistic report.

U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Bob Condron said the move by the IOC should let "both the athletes and the readers enjoy the Olympics at a new level."

"This might be the 'twitter Olympics,'" he said in an e-mail interview. "It'll be interesting to see where it all goes. Our brain waves are now operating in a 140-character mode."

The move by the IOC to allow updates to Twitter and other social-media sites contrasts with other sports, which have imposed restrictions on postings by athletes.

Twitter has also formed a central point of coverage, with NBC posting a page on its Olympics site with a constantly updating feed from the more than 80 athletes who have been posting updates.

The list ranges from stars like Vonn, who has about 35,000 followers of her own, to athletes in lesser-followed sports such as curling and cross-country skiing, some of whom have fewer than 100 followers.

The Winter Games kick off a week from today with the opening ceremonies in Vancouver. I'll be reporting live from Vancouver February 14-23 and have a steady stream of coverage planned looking at the technology that makes the Games possible, as well as all the many ways that people follow the events.

Update, 1 p.m. PT: Vonn has shared the good news with her followers on Facebook and Twitter.

"Contrary to what I was told it turns out that I am allowed to continue to tweet and Facebook during the Olympics!!" Vonn wrote. "Yay!! I have to follow very specific rules though:( Did you guys really think you were going to get rid of me that easily?! I'm back baby!"