• Social Media for athletes and the Olympic Rio 2016 Games

    Social Media for athletes and the Olympic Rio 2016 Games

    The forthcoming Olympic Games in Rio will provide athletes with an opportunity to document their experience and build strong levels of engagement through social media.

    Having democratised the dissemination of content, online platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, have transformed every digital device into a publishing tool, empowering athletes to develop their brand, share their story and build meaningful connections with an audience.

    While clause 11.1 of the Australian Olympic Team Membership Agreement expressly prohibits the use of team membership for advertising, marketing or other commercial agreements, the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”) Social and Digital Media Guidelines encourage accredited persons to document their Rio experience in ‘first-person, diary-type format’.

    The guidelines, which were published in October last year, permit accredited persons to post or otherwise share still photographs taken within Olympic venues on social media, provided the image has not been captured in a designated ‘no picture area’ nor taken for purposes of commercialisation.

    The IOC has defined Olympic venues as all venues which require an Olympic accreditation card to gain entry, including the Olympic Village, Olympic Village Plaza, the competition venues, the training and practice venues and the Barra Olympic Park.

    Despite the IOC’s clear shift in tack towards encouraging athletes to embrace the spirit of the Games and connect with fans around the globe, there remain limitations as to the nature of content which can be shared on social and digital media.

    The need to preserve lucrative broadcasting agreements has necessitated the installation of restrictions pertaining to the publication of audio and video captured within Olympic venues via social and digital media.

    Accredited persons are prohibited from publishing such content without prior approval from the governing body.

    Assuming accredited persons comply with relevant IOC rules and bye-laws, including Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter, which prevents effectively prevents individuals from commercialising their participation in the Rio event from 27 July 2016 until 24 August 2016, the restrictions on video and audio will not apply where audio and video content has been captured outside of Olympic venues.

    Given the ubiquity of social and digital media participation, the Australian Olympic Committee has produced a useful handbook for athletes, outlining the ‘dos and don’ts’ of social media during the Games in Rio, offering helpful hints and examples to ensure team members operate within prescribed rules.

    Any breaches of the IOC Social and Digital Media Guidelines may result in the IOC taking action including, but not limited to, withdrawal of accreditation or imposing other sanctions pursuant to the Olympic Charter.

    If you feel that you need legal advice regarding an Olympic sport or just have a general enquiry please contact us on (03) 9642 0435 or email info@sportslawyer.com.au

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