Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

The AP reports that the IOC bars athletes, coaches from writing first-hand accounts This reminds me of the (now defunct) rule that companies couldn't report earnings and other reports on the Internet until after newspapers had time to print. This was supposed prevent an "unfair advantage" for people who use the Internet. Protecting traditional journalists by muzzling first-hand reports from athletes and coaches is so wrong and stupid.

via Smartmobs


wrong, and stupid. Also selfish and megalomaniacal.
I could go on.

I just attended a conference on social welfare (ICSW) in Malaysia, where 4 ministers from developing countries, world bank and UN representatives were in attendance, and the coverage in the local and international news was nil. Literally no one in the country or elsewhere knew what was going on.

This is probably the extreme case from the olympics, where there is news and policies being formed that could inform the public, and the only way this could (and will) get out is through a blog (or livejournal). And this is just one case, I'm sure there are many other events, where live blogging should be expected, even sanctioned.

SO yeah. I hope some athlete does break that rule.
This bit is ridiculous: "An exception is if an athlete has a personal Web site that they did not set up specifically for the Games."
They're literally being silenced. It's interesting though to see that there are ppl in other sports (Racing, Alex yoong, although he is no longer in F1 and in soccer: Anelka, Ronaldo - all maintain some form of online diary on their official sites. Would those be considered personal sites, if a similar ban is placed on sporting events?)

Sadly this is not about right or wrong, good or bad, information first or last. This is simply about money and probably even rightly so. They are just stopping the ball from starting to role.

NBC paid over 700 Million USD to broadcast the olympics. BBC is putting feeds on the web and they needed to make sure that US people could not see them. Bloggers could just post one or two stories but what if somebody takes a video camera and posts that? What if I open a site with eays eMail submissions from anyone at the olympics? What if they submit full resolution video? Where do you stop? When will NBC start to complain? when will they not pay anymore? When will you not be able to fund the Olympic games? I think Athens has a budget of 1.9 billion EURs!

Maybe this shouldn't be about making money, but I for one can't see this black and white. Not allowing athlets to blog is not nice, but they are just not allowing them to be a journalist and that's what they'd be. Not blogging is just a side effect and if this is good or bad is a grey area and depends on your point of view.

I don't think it is the case here, Joi [protecting journalists] it is more protecting the money they get out of sponsors&media by protecting the exclusivity they give to some media.

Locked eyeballs, that is what they want to do. I'd love to be blogging like hell there just to say hello to them.

I guess athletes could change this rule if they wanted, by not talking to the press for a day. I think the IOC would change this rule in a matter of hours.

Off topic: The olympic hyperlink policy :)

It'd be great if a credentialed journalist would step up and offer to post blog entries or photos from any athlete on a web page to get around the rule. That way everyone gets better coverage, the journalist will get loads of credit (and probably scoops in the future) from the blogging community and the athletes can have their voices heard.

Hell, if NBC/NHK/BBC/etc did it I bet it'd be great for their ratings.

I wonder what they do to friends of Olympic athletes who blog what they were told by those who competed?

I can see how NBC would want rights to the information coming from the games for making money. I don't see a reason why not to expand the media to include the internet. With a few guidlines as to what could, and shouldn't be posted, we would get a much better view of the games.

"NBC paid over 700 Million USD to broadcast the olympics..."

And what, if they Olympics allowed blogging, NBC won't broadcast the Olympics? NBC didn't cough up 700 mil for the chance to have no competition from bloggers. NBC coughed up 700 mil in order to broadcast the one-of-a-kind Olympics.

The IOC has a *SELLER'S MARKET*. They have a monopoly on the actual Olympics. These bans on bloggers, the bans on competing brands, all the other outrageous horseshit, it's on the IOC's head, not the sponsors. The IOC will not run out of sponsors if they allow t-shirt for competing brands on-property, they will not run out of sponsors if they allow blogging.


Sorry to disabuse you all, but blogging hasn't been "banned". If you had a blog before the games, you are free to post there. If you had a private e-mail list or bulletin board, same deal. What is prohibited to members of the Olympic teams (athletes, coaches, etc.) is the same thing that's prohibited if you openend your yap in meatspace.

I asked my sister (who was a member of the 1988 US Olympic Team & has been representing athletes in her discipline since then to her governing body) to comment upon this issue on August 9th. Her response was essentially it was a non-issue, in that athletes have always been regulated in how they may speak to the press--that is, persons with press credentials to the Olypmic Games, whose subsequent works would be published. Press contacts at the event are to be funneled through the governing bodies.

This isn't a money issue, per se, as it the underlying regulations relevant to athletes' conversations with reporters predate the 1960s. Also please note that no "muzzling" is put on the athletes' own sites that pre-date the Games. Some do have sites, others communicate through private e-mail lists (I know of several, although I am not on any).

So this whole freedom-of-speech-muzzling-the-athletes etc. is a nonstarter.

I think I would be far more interested in what's going on at the Olympics if I could read what athletes had to say -- it would be a welcome counterbalance to the stale commentators. How exactly would this cause TV networks to lose money? I don't see it.

It would bring attention to the games, not detract from them. I might even be willing to sit through some credit card commercials, if I had become interested in a particular athlete.

Joi, the rest of you, I have no idea why this irritates me so much, but it does. Investigative journalism in the age of Google isn't really very difficult. I asked google,

"united states olympic team" which got me to here,

which links to one blog (and wouldn't that suggest that the "ban" doesn't hold?)

You know, if you are interested in a particular sport or athlete prior to the Games--maybe you would have found her (or his) blog before the Games? (assuming that the person or the sport maintained a blog--in the disciplines I follow, it isn't that likely).

Liz, Scott Goldblatt says that he is able to keep his blog that you link to above because, "An exception is if an athlete has a personal Web site that they did not set up specifically for the Games."

The rule may be old, but I think it is significant now because the technology has made it easier for atheletes to have a voice. I don't think blogs were really envisioned when they made that rule. The line between public and private conversation are now more blurred and the IOC is erroring on the side of "muzzling" I believe.

Here's a good news story from Athens that hasn't received much press: Matt Hemingway, the high jump silver medalist. Matt grew up in Colorado, where his mom and dad were serving sacrificially at a small Christian camp in the Rockies ( His father, Tom, left a successful career as an officer in the US Marine Corps to follow God's call to minister. Matt was expected to make the 2000 Olympic Team and compete in Sidney, but didn't qualify at the US Team Trials earlier that summer. The day his Olympic competition would have begun -- 4 years and a day before his silver medal jump -- his dad unexpectedly died at their home of a massive heart attack. Matt was home where he needed to be to help his mom and siblings, when his father was called Home to be with the Son of our Most High God. As one of the oldest high jumpers at the Games, Matt continues to honor Christ in his life, marriage, and with his athletic gifts. Check him out at

This is probably the extreme case from the olympics, where there is news and policies being formed that could inform the public, and the only way this could (and will) get out is through a blog (or livejournal). And this is just one case, I'm sure there are many other events, where live blogging should be expected, even sanctioned.

Well, there are truly enough total geeks Blogging the entire experience. I truly wish that there were no bans, but I have to tell you that my friends are having an awesome time getting their blog on and they are super funny at it. They even have Steve on the ground. It is a funny read, to be sure!

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