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IOC launches social media-based 'Olympic Athletes' Hub'

The upcoming Olympics will be the most closely scrutinised and written about in history, fueled in large part by the information streams coming from millions of fans and athletes using social media. Recognising the new importance of social media, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has launched the Olympic Athletes' Hub, a search engine-style website connecting fans to the hundreds of social networking streams of athletes and events on Twitter and Facebook.

"The Athletes' Hub has already compiled the Twitter and Facebook feeds of over 2,000 Olympians, and over 100,000 people have visited the site," Mark Adams, IOC director of communications, said in a statement. "The additions we are announcing further demonstrate the IOC's continued efforts to socialise the Olympic Games and create a better, more engaging experience for fans and Olympic athletes around the world."

A video (below) promoting the new site highlights exactly how central social media is to the IOC's plans for the upcoming games.

Nevertheless, one particularly sticky issue that has plagued the IOC's efforts to embrace social media is the notion that the organisation's strict guidelines prohibit photos and videos at the events and might penalise fans for sharing content online. However, earlier this week, during a press conference for the games, Adams clarified the IOC's position regarding sharing content online. In a statement captured by the Wall Street Journal, Adams said, "Auntie Mabel in Norwich is not going to get a knock on the door at midnight and told to take something down. The main reason we do this is to stop companies making money out of the Olympics who don't put any money back into the sport."

In addition to allowing fans to follow athlete and sports social networking streams from the site, there are also regularly scheduled live question and answer sessions with athletes facilitated by the site. Another component of the Athletes' Hub, scheduled to go live next week, is called the Olympic Challenge, a game that will award points to Facebook users who correctly predict the winners of various Olympic events. Other social media sharing channels supported by the IOC include Tumblr, Google Plus, and FourSquare, although they are being used as standalone options, not connected to the Athletes' Hub.