The London 2012 Olympics will begin in just a few days, and we have seen some challenges and crises already emerge before the games have even started. Security issues with the security company in London where UK troops were called in to help with the security and ticket issues have also come up with people voicing their opinions and complaints.
But what about crises involving the athletes? We have already seen one athlete being expelled and not allowed to compete in the Olympics due to an inappropriate tweet she sent out. Voula Papachristou, the Greek triple jump champion, posted a tweet that caught the attention of the media and Olympic committee, and as a result – this single tweet resulted in Papachristou not being allowed to compete in the upcoming London Olympics. She has since apologized both on Twitter and releasing the following statement:
I would like to express my heartfelt apologies for the unfortunate and tasteless joke I published on my personal Twitter account. I am very sorry and ashamed for the negative responses I triggered, since I never wanted to offend anyone, or to encroach human rights.
My dream is connected to the Olympic Games and I could not possibly participate if I did not respect their values. Therefore, I could never believe in discrimination between human beings and races.
I would like to apologize to all my friends and fellow athletes, who I may have insulted or shamed, the National Team, as well as the people and companies who support my athletic career. Finally, I would like to apologize to my coach and my family.
From a crisis communications standpoint, athletes like Papchristou need to recognize they are probably at one of the biggest global events we have, representing not only themselves, but their country for the world to see. Understanding this power and presence needs to be taken into consideration not only in personal conversations and engagements with others – but also online as well. Athletes need to recognize that whatever they post, say, comment, or share online – it is not only for their followers and friends to see – but for others to see as well and determine their first impressions based on this.
The London 2012 Olympics has been deemed by many as the “social media” Olympics – the IOC has taken a very active role in social media by having not only a presence themselves for the games, but setting regulations and guidelines for athletes and others on what they can and cannot do with social media during the games. There is already discussion of the emergence of future crises coming from Twitter that may come during the games.
So, this case raises the social media red flag to all those who are at the games, whether it is competing or part of the support staff or even fans – the social media conversations will be monitored – so think before you tweet.
Hope you all are having a great day.