The International Olympic Committee has worked with the world's largest social network to launch the new Olympics themed page, Explore London 2012, but athletes will not be allowed to share videos recorded inside Olympics stadiums. Matt Cowan reports.
REPORTER: As starting lines go, this press briefing may not excite the senses in the same way a 100 metre dash might. However, the news being shared here may indeed have a significant impact on the way millions of people experience this Summer's Olympic Games in London. Facebook, the world's biggest social network, has launched a new Olympics themed paged called Explore London 2012, with the support of the International Olympic Committee. Joanna Shields heads up European operations for the site.
JOANNA SHIELDS: "What's interesting about Facebook is there's over 900 million people on the site today and everyday they post over a billion comments and 300 million photos. So the magnitude of it is enormous, so if you're an athlete or an Olympic Committee or a London based team, for instance the London Olympic Committee, you're going to want to communicate to people more extensively, beyond what you can do currently with the traditional media."
REPORTER: "Broadcasting rights for the Olympics can fetch in the billions of dollars. In the U.S. NBC paid roughly 2 billion for the rights to broadcast the 2010 Winter Games from Vancouver and the 2012 Summer Games from here in London. Facebook has paid precisely nothing for its association with the Olympics. But the IOC says these two forms of media are not in competition."
MARK ADAMS, IOC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: "It actually enhances the experience, brings more fans. More viewers and I think all of the broadcasters are realizing this."
REPORTER: Mark Adams, the IOC's communications director, says the body's social media policy is being loosened but there are still limits.
MARK ADAMS: "We really encourage people to take as many photos and videos as they want to. As for photos, they can share them as widely as they want to as long as they're within the normal lines of racism and sexism and so on. With video we have some problems, we invite people to take video. They can show them to their friends but we ask them not to share them on publicly available sites because we have contractual relationships with the broadcasters and that's partly how we fund the games."
REPORTER: Each of the over 10 thousand athletes participating in the games will be asked to read and acknowledge the guidelines...something tennis legend Boris Becker didn't have to think about back when he won gold in the 92 Olympics.
BORIS BECKER: "Obviously the athlete most importantly has to concentrate on his job but there's lots of hours of the day where you have plenty of time. Everybody's online anyway and it gives the athlete a direct voice to the outside."
REPORTER: The new Olympics themed page is available in 22 languages, already boasting more than 100 million connections between fans and athletes. Matt Cowan, Reuters.
• Facebook launches Explore London 2012 to connect fans, athletes (Los Angeles Times)
• Facebook launches Explore London 2012 tool (Digital Spy)