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Olympic Social Network Brings Fans & Athletes Together

Social media is big business these days, that's stating the obvious, but the rise of Facebook and its ilk has gotten so meteoric that even major sporting events are fully recognising the importance of the social network.

This year's Olympics is getting on board the social train with the launch of the Olympic Athletes' Hub, a social media aggregation site to help hook up athletes, past and present, with their fans.

The organisers of the Olympics clearly understand that fans want - or even expect - to be able to communicate with their favourite competitors, and indeed they're even calling this the "the first social media Olympics". Which could be an event in itself, thinking about it, featuring the fastest tweet, most tagged picture and most friends acquired (perhaps the most convoluted privacy policy, too).

Alex Huot, the head of social media for the IOC, enthused about the project: "The Olympic Athletes' Hub was born out of our desire to connect Olympic athletes and their fans more intimately than ever before. With the launch of the Hub, we are creating a paradigm shift in the communication around the Olympic Games."

He said that he wanted to create "deep and meaningful relationships" between fans and athletes, and added: "These relationships could, in fact, last for lifetimes. I feel that Olympians inspire and their engagement in social media at London 2012 will result in the biggest online conversation in Olympic history."

We're sure the latter is true, the former is more of a stretch, but Huot clearly isn't setting his sights low when it comes to this Olympic social effort.

The focus on social media is also an effort to engage and attract younger fans to the sporting spectacle which begins in July.

The fans are already piling into the hub, with the most followed athletes being US basketball stars LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, with 14 million and 12 million fans respectively. They're followed by two tennis stars, Federer and Nadal, who both have 10 million followers.

The top UK athlete is Andy Murray, but he's somewhat down the rankings at 31st, with 1.3 million fans.

The Athletes' Hub site is set to offer live updates and videos, along with rewards for following athletes such as badges and prizes. Check it out here.

Source: Wired