Martine Rolls: Games played out in 140 characters


A great turnout is expected today in Tauranga, especially if the rain stays away.

Locals can get up close to Olympians Peter Burling, Blair Tuke, Jason Saunders, Kurt Pickard, Luuka Jones, Andy Hayward and Andrew Murdoch as they are driven down Devonport Rd in Mustang convertibles.

I was in Europe when the Games were on and the different time zone was no issue.

I'm normally not much of a sports watcher but, because I had all the time in the world for a change, I watched plenty of it. I also followed it online; the many Twitter and Facebook posts in particular.

The London Olympics have widely been referred to as the Twitter games.

More people than ever before - athletes, journalists and fans - took to social media to express their views on the action. According to Twitter, there were more than 150 million tweets sent out during the Games.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

The athletes themselves embraced Twitter as well but were urged to keep to the strict rules on social media as set by the Olympic Committee.

Sharing video from the Olympic Village was forbidden and athletes were required to get permission before posting photos of other athletes.

If you are interested in the full list of dos and don'ts for athletes keen on posting, blogging or tweeting, see www.olympic.org.

Most messages posted in the 17 days of the Games captured the Olympic spirit in 140 characters or less, but some were pretty controversial.

Comedian Frankie Boyle took to Twitter to make fun of British Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington, a double gold medal winner at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. "I worry that Rebecca Adlington will have an unfair advantage in the swimming by possessing a dolphin's face," Boyle tweeted.

But it gets worse.

A Swiss footballer, Michel Morganella, was expelled from the Olympics for tweeting racist remarks soon after his team's 2-1 defeat to South Korea.

He said in the tweet that South Koreans "can go burn" and referred to them as a "bunch of mongoloids".

Morganella "discriminated against, insulted and violated the dignity of the South Korea football team as well as the South Korean people", said chef de mission for the Swiss Olympic delegation at the Games through a translator at a news conference.

"We condemn his comments, which are in fundamental violation of the IOC's Olympic charter and Swiss Olympic's own ethics charter," he said.

As a result, Morganella was stripped of his Olympic accreditation.

He has since apologised, saying: "After the disappointing result and the reaction from Korea that followed, I made a huge error.

"I wish to apologise to the people in South Korea and their team, but also to the Swiss delegation and Swiss football in general. I obviously accept the consequences for my actions.'

His Twitter account has been deleted.

Then there was the 17-year-old English lad with the Twitter user name @Rileyy-69 who was arrested for harassment after a nasty tweet aimed at diver Tom Daley.

Daley finished just outside the medals in the 10m synchronised platform event and Rileyy-69 was quick to accuse him of letting down his late father by missing out on a medal.

The Olympian's father died last year from brain cancer.

Daley was not impressed, and immediately re-tweeted the abuse saying: "After giving it my all ... you get idiots sending me this."

But Rileyy-69 persisted: "Hope your crying now you should be why can't you even produce for your country [sic]."

He made more insulting comments about Daly, including a claim that he would drown the superstar teenager, which is believed to be the reason for his arrest.

Eventually he apologised.

"I'm sorry mate I just wanted you to win cause it's the olympics I'm just annoyed we didn't win I'm sorry tom accept my apology," he tweeted.

It only shows how people still have a lot to learn about what's appropriate on social media and what's not, regardless of terrible spelling and grammatical errors, and with or without IOC guidelines.


- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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