Think Before You Tweet: 2012 London Olympics

Author: Jack Martin

If you have been watching the Olympics, or even just the news for that matter, you have most likely been exposed to the controversy surrounding Twitter and the 2012 London games. It’s no surprise that Twitter has gained popularity since the last summer Olympics in Beijing, but to what degree has it changed? Has this increase in popularity been positive or negative for the Olympics? What consequences have athletes and fans been given for inappropriate and distasteful tweets?

The rapid growth of Twitter since the 2008 Beijing games has produced some very astounding statistics for the London games. The number of tweets on a single day of the beginning of the London Olympics exceeded the number of tweets that were tweeted for the entire duration of the Beijing games. There have been so many mentions of the Olympics via Twitter that the Olympic committee asked spectators not to tweet unless it was “urgent,” in hopes of decreasing the networks load. Even the Twitter numbers from the Vancouver Olympics, only two short years ago, reveal the mass amounts of Twitter attention the London games have been receiving. For the Vancouver games, about 307,000 tweets during the opening weekend contained the term “Olympics.” During the opening weekend of the London Olympics, that number spiked to more than 3.5 million tweets.

The increase of tweets of course corresponds with the increase of users over the years, but “who” exactly is tweeting has also played a significant role in this spike of tweets. Four or even two years ago, Twitter users used Twitter with great simplicity. As time has gone on and famous athletes have joined the Twitter world, Twitter users have used Twitter as a way to communicate to these athletes in hopes of being noticed and receiving a mention or “retweet.” The degree of freedom Twitter gives its users can be used for good or bad, both of which have been present during the London games.

Here are some examples of athletes, and a young spectator, who have been criticized and even punished for the thoughtless text they put on Twitter for the whole world to see.

Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou:

Voula Papachristou was expelled from the Olympic Games after she put a racist post on her Twitter account that sparked immediate negative comments. The tweet read, “With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!”

Swiss footballer Michel Morganella:

Michel Morganella was also expelled from the Olympic Games directly following a racist tweet directed towards the South Koreans. Morganella referred to them as “mongoloids” and said they “can go burn,” directly following South Korea’s victory over the Swiss team.

American soccer player Hope Solo:

Hope Solo, unlike the others, was only scolded for her Twitter rant against former U.S. soccer player Brandi Chastain who was doing commentary for the U.S. game. Solo tweeted, “Its 2 bad we cant have commentators who better represents the teamknows more about the game.” She also told Chastain to “lay off commentating about defending and goalkeeping until you get more educated” and “the game has changed from a decade ago.”

Twitter user @rileyy69:

This young boy, a mere 17 years of age, tweeted that English diver Tom Daley had “let his dad down,” after Daley had placed 4th in the men’s 10-meter synchronized diving event. To the disgust of many, this young boy had completely crossed the line when he tweeted such words, considering Daley’s father died of brain cancer in May 2011. Don’t worry. There will be consequences for this youngster. He was later arrested in the Weymouth area.

It’s obvious that Twitter has brought about some very negative attention to the Olympics, but there are many athletes who find Twitter a source of inspiration and motivation before they compete. Some athletes have felt that the encouraging words fans have written to them have helped aid their success. All it takes is some common sense. What was that old saying, think before you speak? This should be no different, regardless if you are a famous athlete or just a fan. Think before you tweet.

Do you think Olympic athletes should be on Twitter? Do you agree with the expulsion of athletes over tweets? Comment below and let us know!