Internet Dilemma for Olympic Organizations
Published October 6, 2009
Why is it taking the IOC so long to adopt social media?
The answer is simple.
The IOC is a secretive organization,
and social media demands transparency.
Companies and organizations with something to hide and that aren't truthful consider social media intimidating and give it a wide berth.
In Copenhagen, after the 2016 Summer Games bid announcement, while members were still gathered in Sweden, the IOC held meetings (they call it a Congress) to discuss forward looking issues regarding the Olympics.
During one presentation, Martin Sorrell, VP of WPP, an advertising agency that works closely with the IOC and their sponsors, chastised Olympic organizations for not leveraging the internet more efficiently. He warned, as we have here at OlyBLOG for many years, that if Olympic organizations don't embrace the internet they will disconnect younger audiences and find it very hard to win them back.
An understatement to say the least.
Sophisticated youth began questioning Olympic ethics long ago. Today, the only way the IOC keeps young people onboard is to take them hostage at school and force-feed them Olympic culture through programs paid for by McDonalds and Coca-Cola - foods of champions.
Many people over sixteen consider the corporate essence of the IOC untrustworthy and see the Olympics as little more than a money grab.
Like you and me, they love the sport, but hate the politics.
According to Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun reporter (The Sun is an official Olympic supplier/partner), when John Furlong, CEO VANOC heard Sorrell's comments he said "it was a jaw-dropping experience to hear the way people describe the world unfolding."
Really John? You guys at VANOC are surprised?
(I assume Lee was surprised too because he never commented one way or the other regarding Furlong's surprise, and instead played dumb.)
John and Jeff, the ambiguous tag team duo have known for a long time the power of the internet.
To hear them tell it you'd think the internet snuck up and bit them on the ass, although Furlong did boast his website racked up 700 million unique page views. Pretty fancy words and numbers for a guy who pretends not to know what's going on.
Sorrell also pointed out that just being on the internet dispensing information isn't enough. Involvement has to be interactive and mobile.
The internet has been in the mainstream since the mid nineties and I would have hoped that by now the IOC and Furlong would have also heard of things like blogs and Twitter, and you know ... social media?
You guys know social media right?
It's that new fangled communication gizmo that actually allows people who read your website to interact and make comments.
Ahh sorry ... you guys wouldn't know about "commenting" would you, because if you allowed people to comment on the misinformation you put out there taxpayers in host cities would all be calling BULLSHIT.
Nice try John. Fake ignorance all you want, but we're on to you.
Sorrell is sneaky too because his company has worked IOC projects for a long time and has made a fortune singing the Olympic song as the IOC advertising agency of record, but let me expand on what he started.
Not only must the IOC embrace the internet, Olympic organizations must embrace social media on mobile, but obviously before they do that they have to become less secretive and more transparent.
It's not technology that perplexes the IOC, after all, some of the most technological companies in the world like Atos Origin are on their payroll.
It's truth they find challenging. Truth Mr. Sorrell.
It's not a stretch to think that one of the reasons the IOC awarded Rio the 2016 Summer Games over Chicago was because America is substantially more technologically sophisticated than Brazil.
According to studies reported August 2009 by sysomos, Twitter use in the USA ranks 60.06%, while Brazil is only 3.69%. iPhone use in the USA 66.93% and in Brazil 0.67%.
Choosing Rio allows the IOC to buy time so they can figure out how to ride that wild social media horse. No one said the IOC was stupid.
Is it any wonder the IOC is intimidated by America and voted Chicago first off the island? I'd be scared too if I ran such a chaotic mess it caused every host city over the last decade to chalk up huge deficits and see no appreciable return on investment in tourism or foreign capital investment.
Get your head around these numbers;
Salt Lake City 2002 stumbled under a $1.2 billion deficit; two years later the $12 billion loss in 2004 Athens was so deep Standard & Poors downgraded Greece from ďstableĒ to ďnegative.Ē; Turin 2006 threatened bankruptcy just two month before their big event (three years later their final tally is still not in; Beijing 2008 was a total farce seeing China only one year later painting many of their Olympic sports facilities as white elephants; Vancouver 2010 has already invested almost ten times more than they planned, and they still have four months of furious last minute spending before their big bash. Standard & Poors incredulously downgraded Vancouver a year before the 2010 Games were even due to arrive; London 2012 is also already predicting $20 billion in overruns with a full twenty-eight months to lift off.
Jacques Rogge still arrogantly insists it's not his fault.
If you've ever wondered why the IOC and VANOC do not allow people to comment on their websites, now you know.
If they did, people would shout the IOC down and demand that the Olympic business model be improved, or worse, the Games scrapped.
Before the IOC embraces social media they need a lesson in ethics.
Published August 14, 2009
I know what you're thinking ... Women have balls?
Contrary to what sexists think, women do have balls.
Anne Murray has balls. I know. I've actually held them.
They're white and dimpled, and sometimes green and fuzzy. I used to play tennis and golf with Anne. Trust me. She has balls, but enough about Canada's Snowbird ...
you know who else has balls?
Women Ski Jumpers have balls. BIG Ones.
Unfortunately hardly anyone seems to notice.
Do you know who doesn't have balls?
The Vancouver Sun, and their partners the IOC and VANOC. No balls.
John Furlong CEO VANOC, and also Dennis Skulsky, the Vancouver Sun's publisher, who, btw, is brilliantly leveraging his company's lucrative affiliation with the 2010 Winter Olympics
. . .
these guys - NO balls.
Yeah I know, Skulsky is rumoured to be the next BC Lions president, and football players certainly have balls, but Dennis, you can't grow balls by association, you actually have to step up and do something. If John Candy were alive today he'd show you balls. Remember him? He's the guy who starred in Cool Runnings, the movie about the Jamaican Bobsled team struggling to make the Winter Olympics. Those Rastas had crazy balls.
You know who else has NO balls? Male ski jumpers.
If they did, they'd be standing alongside women ski jumpers who are being unfairly barred from competing at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler.
At the very least I thought by now Canadian male ski jumpers would get on board with the ladies, but so far barely a peep from these guys.
Not to be unpatriotic, but unless Canadians pull one out of the hat big time they barely have a snowball's chance in Hell of wining gold in 2010.
Eddie the Eagle, or Freddie the Falcon, whatever his name, gave jumping real UMPH in '88 and male ski jumpers have a crack at pumping it up in Canadian hearts and minds again. If history is any indication the Europeans will probably dominate just like they have for eons. Why? Basically it's because Canadians don't really support ski jumping.
You guys are just as talented, but unless you are part of the elite team with high visibility our government and Olympic sponsors like RBC barely give you enough money to even climb to the top of the ramp, let alone land on the podium. I wish you luck in 2010, but let's think of the team.
Leverage your position and crank up the visibility and excitement.
Grow some! Raise the visibility of ski jumping in Canada by getting in bed with the women to help their cause. It'll be cozy for everyone.
Looking the other way - not so cool.
Send a message to VANOC and the IOC.
If the WOMEN don't jump ... WE don't jump.
You have nothing to lose and the world to gain. For starters, you'll win respect from all of Canada and around the world. Canadians love the underdog and will get excited and contribute more funds to your sport, and at the same time the IOC will get the message the Old Farts Club is a thing of the past in our modern blog and Twitter universe.
It's time for influence to shift from sponsors to athletes.
Musicians fixed their industry, and you can too.
Male ski jumpers also have an opportunity to connect with millions of Canadians who unfortunately have grown to hate the Olympics because it's become such a financial farce. You can get doubters back onboard.
I'm pro Olympics and love the athletic aspect of the Games, but the Olympics has turned into a corporate greed fest. One of the reasons the IOC won't sanction women ski jumpers in 2010 is because they don't believe it can attract advertising dollars for NBC. The IOC is wrong.
Before I wrap it up, here's why The Vancouver Sun has no balls; Today, August 14, 2009, they ran two more 2010 puff pieces. One about "Olympic BUTTONS" and the other vainly trying to convince readers how much good the 2010 Olympics is doing for Prince George BC. Considering Vancouver and Whistler are struggling financially, how could Prince George, 500 kilometres away be doing so well? Pure bunk.
The Sun placed these stories prominently in the newspaper giving them way more space than deserved, but they buried the story of female ski jumpers looking for male ski jumper support on the very back page. Not only was it buried on the last page, it was placed in a tiny corner on a page that had an almost full page colour ad on it.
The article, pardon the pun, was lost in a sea of red ink.
You ask ... why is this considered an obscure place in the newspaper to place such an important article? For starters, newspapers complain they are going bankrupt because fewer companies buy advertising. No ads. No $$
Why aren't they advertising? Well ... people hate ads, which means no one will see that women ski jumpers need support, but yet, The Sun can claim they're doing their part and are unbiased. Juxtaposition at its finest.
Interestingly, The Sun also didn't identify the reporter with a byline (I don't blame him or her - I'd be ashamed too), but even worse, they wrote a headline that made it look like the women are doing a bad thing. The headline was, "Female ski jumpers try to cancel men's Olympic event."
Poor men. Could The Sun spin it to sound more negative?
The Sun also thinks the women's wish to be treated fairly is a "last ditch effort" as if it is a foregone conclusion if they lose the fight in court it won't continue on a social media battleground, maybe even on the hill at Games time. Vancouver is infamous for Flash Mobs as evidenced by the Critical Mass bike ride, and even though BC is a sexist province by Canadian standards, there is no reason to think Vancouverites won't grow some and express themselves responsibly in the name of equality.
The Vancouver Sun is an official supplier to the 2010 Olympics, and well paid to tell the Olympic side of the Olympic story. No balls. No glory.
6 Months to the Vancouver 2010 Olympics Are you in the Mood ... or in an Olympic FUNK?
Published August 12, 2009
Only SIX months to the 2010 Games in
Vancouver and our region is in a tizzy.
Unfortunately, tizzy isnít exactly a good thing. VANOC and their partners, local news media, are in full-on damage control. Not a good sign to be sure. They want us to believe everything is chugging along as planned, but why are you fretting and media fidgeting if plans are going so well?
The Vancouver Sun, an official Olympic supplier and booster, pulled out the big guns today, August 12, 2009, and ran a series of articles feebly explaining our current wonky 2010 state of affairs.
Just the fact the BIG 6 Month Announcement didnít even make the front page indicates plans are somewhat askew. Buried on page five of the ďAĒ section, Miro Cernetig, a topnotch staff writer second only to The Sunís Daphne Bramham, tried in vain to ease reader fears, but instead, he underscored what we already know, Vancouver is about to hit the wall.
Cernetig begged in a big honking headline,
ďItís our party, so lets enjoy the moment.Ē
The Vancouver Sun has been hard selling to trusting readers for years that the 2010 Olympics would create long lasting prosperity for everyone, but now it seems weíre down to ... a moment.
2010 was supposed to be a long marriage, not a one-night stand.
Cernetig isn't fooling anyone who knows how the game is played, and proved he really doesnít understand how the Olympics roll out. He comes off like a nervous and indecisive cheerleader shaking pompoms.
Itís surprising considering Cernetig is one of The Sunís top dogs. His article reminded me reporters are concerned about their jobs, and will go to great lengths to keep the wolf at bay. Canwest recently saw their share price plummet to penny stock rates and begged creditors once again for another short extension to keep their company afloat.
The paper version of The Sun has withered to Kate Moss thin, and also recently often publishes articles written in other parts of the country. I suspect staff reporters are hoping The Sun will shine at least until the Games are over so they can include an Olympic beat on their resumes, although Iím not sure in this era if anyone really wants or can even afford to associate their names with Olympic organizations that keep driving Host communities into the ground.
Even Cernetig admitted in his article, ďWhen it comes to Olympic Games, which have been known to leave a host city financially crippled, this has actually been a remarkably smooth buildup to a big event.Ē
Financially crippled? Yes, we know, glad you finally agree.
Smooth buildup? Tell that to the residents turfed from their homes in the DTES and to the businesses that over the last few years bailed out of Vancouver because they can no longer afford skyrocketing land values and taxes artificially driven up by 2010 frenzy and expenditures.
Here's just one example I've blogged about in the past. . .
Even RONA building supplies, a company ironically that
is an official Olympics sponsor is bitterly complaining they can't keep
their stores open because of skyrocketing taxes driven up in part
by the 2010 Olympics.
When it hits an official Olympics partner you know the train is off the rails. Iíve mentioned a few times in OlyBLOG.com that it is odd that Rona does not include the Olympics rings more frequently on their advertising. It seems maybe they too are embarrassed for being taken in by the IOC and VANOC. Hereís what the owner of the Rona on Elmbridge Way shared with a reporter for the Richmond Review, ďOwner Mack Foster is facing a massive property tax hike due to skyrocketing real estate values in the oval-anchored neighbourhood, and may be forced to close. Rona paid out $68 million to VANOC to support our 2010 event, and now they canít even afford to stay in the city hosting the speed skating oval." Foster also told The Richmond Review, ďLet me tell you, if I had forward sight, if I had realized this, I would have never re-signed my lease.Ē
Last year (2007) Foster paid a tax increase of $29,951, but this year the increase is $207,029. He added, ďItís almost so bad there has to be a solution. No business can sustain this kind of situation,Ē he said. ďSome of the businesses will disappear this year, some will disappear next year. But all of them will disappear in three years.Ē Many types of businesses are suffering under the same tax increases.
The HST should be renamed the OST Ė Olympic Sales Tax.
Thereís not much to be proud of when an overwhelming proportion of residents in our Olympic community now so vehemently hate how the Olympics negatively impacted their lives, so Iím not sure how proud a reporter will be to have the 2010 stamp on their resume knowing he or she was partially responsible for contributing to the community carnage.
Looking the other way isnít a noble journalistic quality.
When The Sun allows readers to comment in their web pages about the 2010
Olympics it turns into a bloodbath deriding the Games.
I'm Pro-Olympics and love the sport, but I realized years ago it would be irresponsible to unconditionally promote an event that in the past four Host regions has wreaked economic havoc on trusting communities.
Yes, The Vancouver Sun is now reporting about the downside of the Olympics, but in the early years when residents really needed answers The Sun was primarily acting as a 2010 booster and ignoring real issues.
If 2010 is rolling out so smoothly why doesnít The Sun include a COMMENT section at the end of all Olympic articles? Gillian Shaw, The Sunís in house social media expert seems to be giving the Olympics a very wide berth, when in this era one would think blogs and Twitter would be perfect tools to talk up the Games. I also thought Jeff Lee was the official Olympic reporter at The Sun. The challenge for his newspaper however is that if Lee is assigned to write more puff pieces The Sun would be obliged to post them on his blog, and we all know how that would look in the respective comment sections. He censures me and others regularly, so you can imagine the challenge if they open up the floodgates.
Without excited volunteers the Games would implode.
Iím sure writers like Cernetig are thankful the IOC and VANOC shovel tax supported advertising dollars into Canwest because it helps keep the newspaper afloat. Itís good for them, but not so good for local residents and readers who from day one and especially at this sensitive time really need accurate and trustworthy reporting.
And speaking of accurate reporting, Cernetig claimed in his article there were ďno corruption scandals.Ē I suppose if you donít count the Olympic Village scandal as corruption heís right, but the jury is still out and if anyone knows anything about the Olympics, scandals always surface in due course. Before you claim Vancouver dodged a bullet letís do the responsible thing and wait until the last shot is fired.
Cernetig proves his naivetť, or his slyness when he writes in a self-fulfilling prophetic way, ďanti-Olympics protest has all but evaporated.Ē
First, anyone who does basic research knows Olympic protest ALWAYS ramps up to alarming and VIOLENT proportion in the three months before and during the Games, but again, Cernetig didnít do his homework, or, he is purposely misleading readers into complacency. One would expect a reporter with his credentials would do extensive research, so you decide.
You might think Iím being overly critical of Miro Cernetig, but keep in mind he is one of the best journalists at the Vancouver Sun, which means this guy is hard to fool, but apparently VANOC and the IOC have him hoodwinked. I donít believe heís stupid, and I donít buy for a second that because he is overworked he is not capable of even modest research.
Looking the other way is convenient, but not ethical.
For example Cernetig waxes poetic about VANOC securing 25,000 volunteers, and as he states, they volunteered ďfree of charge.Ē
Thatís what volunteer means Miro. No need to blow smoke.
The really disturbing part of his statement though is that 25,000 volunteers is the minimum number of people needed to perform the services, and if he did even a bit of research he would know Olympic organizations have a volunteer churn rate of 3:1, and sometimes 4:1.
Churn means if you need 25,000 volunteers in position, you have to collect 100,000 resumes, and process and whittle them down to 75,000 potential volunteers to inject quickly into your system.
Why? Well in past Olympic regions many volunteers often only last for a day or two before they quit, and when they bail the local Olympic organizing committee has to shove another warm and trained body into the vacated position. In 2000, Sydney, Australia, which the IOC claims was the best Olympics ever, in some areas had a churn rate of 4:1. Turin 2006 had such a hard time keeping volunteers they thought they might have to cancel some events at the eleventh hour.
Volunteering isn't so sexy when you're shoveling snow on the side of a steep mountain at four in the morning after a four hour drive for the fourth day in a row on the volunteer's tab and holiday time.
So Miro, please, unless you know what youíre talking about ... zip it.
Cernetig also goes on to say Olympic tickets have been oversubscribed.
Big deal. Have you seen Craigslist? Everyone is online selling Olympic tickets, including a dozen high-end scalpers who can deliver anything you want if you have the coin. Of course 2010 is oversubscribed. Scalpers, amateur and pro alike scooped buckets of tickets to resell to corporate VIPs at quadruple face value. VANOC boasts they have a plan in place to prevent it. Good luck. Let me know next March how it works out. Sounds like music industry DRM bluff and bluster to me.
Cernetig blathers weíve beaten the Olympic curse and havenít had to fire VANOC executives. Wrong again. When VANOC executives leave without explanation, as a number have already, it simply means the IOC is getting better at deception. VANOC wonít admit why executives were fired and journalists won't pursue it. Good teamwork. Give them all a gold medal.
It would have been truthful and ethical for Cernetig to have written that a number of executives left under mysterious conditions, but instead he wants you to believe the Gods on Mount Olympus are smiling upon us.
Executives are smarter today and have tremendous leverage through the internet. They donít get fired. They strap on golden parachutes and slink away silently into the night. Three VANOC executives I know of left their positions, and all under unexplained questionable circumstances.
Lastly, when Cernetig downplays the Olympic Athleteís Village scandal as a ďtroubling glitch,Ē you know heís zoomin you.
Glitch? More like a David Cronenberg head on crash.
Cernetig wrote, ďWe have six months to stop
complaining and get in the mood for the Olympics.Ē
Unfortunately Miro, Vancouver and Whistler are in the mood, but itís not a very good mood because like a mushroom, mainstream news media kept everyone in the dark and fed them manure, and now every time we turn around another preventable Olympic issue and inevitable cost pops up.
Timing is everything, and itís way too late to redeem yourselves or work towards fixing a broken IOC business model. Noam Chomsky calls it "necessary illusion" and he's right. It's deceptive and unethical.
You guys are not only Olympic partners and suppliers, but also mainstream news media, and it was your responsibility to help prevent this scam from being perpetrated on our trusting community. In retrospect it's clear it was not a coincidence in 2006 when The Sun removed the words ďimprove the lives of our readersĒ from your masthead.
When the waiter arrives with the 2010 tax tab don't run to the bathroom because weíll expect you to pick up the check.
Put that on your resume.
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Own the Podium?
The official creed (guiding principle) of the Olympics is a quote by the
founding father of the modern day Games Baron de Coubertin. He said, "The
most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part,
just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.
The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."
The Olympic motto consists of three Latin words Citius, Altius, Fortius,
which means, "Swifter, Higher, Stronger." The 1924 motto is meant to encourage
athletes to embrace the Olympic spirit and perform to the best of their
No where does it imply that winning the most gold medals for your country
is part of the agenda. In fact it implies exactly the opposite.
The IOC maintains that it doesn't actively encourage countries to collectively
win the most gold medals, but on the other hand they also don't institute
anything to ensure that the Games are not turned into corporate money
In fact, IOC sponsorship and partnership business models encourage a win-at-all-costs
mentality. It is the reason they have doping, fraud and bribery scandals.
The IOC invites young people to compete in the Olympics using the original
Creed & Motto. But when it comes to delivering on the promise they
fall incredibly short.
The Olympics today isn't as much about sport as it is about money and
Priorities changed over the years and so too should their Creed &
If athletes go for the gold, and the IOC goes for the gold, and corporate
sponsors go for the gold, and governments go for the gold, and considering
that you will have to foot the bill for their gold, why should
you be edged out of the race?
Move to the starting line.
Own the Podium?
Own Your Home?
Real journalism consists of
what someone doesn't want published,
all the rest is public relations." George Orwell