With the 2012 London Olympic Games at a close, and the Paralympic Games yet to take place, how will we look back in years to come at this year’s sporting successes and team tribulations?
With the 2012 London Olympic Games at a close, and the Paralympic Games yet to take place, how will we look back in years to come at this year’s sporting successes and team tribulations? The BBC held the rights to broadcast radio and video coverage of the 2012 Games, but in what ways has social media informed our viewing of events? With Olympics workers, volunteers, Games spectators and athletes themselves using Facebook and Twitter to record their own experiences, are the 2012 Games the first so-called Twitter-Olympics?
Live-blogging from websites such as the Guardian and The Sun, as well as updates on the BBC website, saw the Olympic events well-reported on in the UK and Ireland. But Twitter provided us something extra during these Games – that immediate, personal access into the athletes’ mindsets; their pre-match nerves and worries put out there for us to share and tweet our support back in turn. We were as much a part of the action as we could be from behind our phones and laptops, retweeting and reading athletes’ thanks as they took gold, silver or bronze. And who will ever forget Bradley Wiggins’ terrific comeback @piersmorgan’s dig: “I was very disappointed @bradwiggins didn’t sing the anthem either. Show some respect to our Monarch please!” with: “I was disappointed when you didn’t go to jail for insider dealing or phone hacking, but you know, each to his own”. Well ok – it wasn’t really the Wigster, but it was funny nonetheless.
In the same way that breaking news is reported at lightning speed through the Twitterverse, so too were we aware that yet another gold had been won for Team Wherever! And we celebrated from our tv-deprived work places, trains, or out walking in 3G hotspots.
Of course during the Olympic period, some members of the public came across as malicious towards the athletes they claimed to support. Famously, a seventeen year old Twitter-user was arrested “on suspicion of malicious communications” after he claimed on Twitter that Daley had let down his late father after placing fourth in the men’s synchronised 10m platform event. But then, did anyone see Tom Daley’s redive after he complained his low-score was down to “distractions from flashlights”? That bronze medal may well be down to snap-happy Twitterers eager to tweet an action shot.
Tweeting enabled athletes to keep up a connection with fans and supporters at home, while also raising their profile on an international level. Irish boxing champion and bronze medallist, Paddy Barnes, tweeted from inside the boxing ring, claiming a first for up and close action-as-it happens reporting from the man himself. He gained another 3000 or so followers after cheekily flaunting his Twitter name during the opening ceremony. And why not seize these opportunities for professional sponsorship? Time in the Olympic torchlight is often short lived.
Twitter is the great linking platform of our 2012-time, for the net-connected world to communicate on. People can follow, retweet, debate, discuss, aggravate and congratulate freely, and that’s what separates it from the press. #London2012 may not trend again until 29 August, but it’ll be a long time before it goes completely off our screens.