IPC Publish Social Media Guidelines for PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games

The rise of social media has fundamentally changed how much of the world consumes sporting content, as well as how the teams and athletes involved interact with their fan base both during and outside of official competitions. No longer is such content restricted purely to official broadcasters in the form of wealthy corporations; the stars themselves can now take to social media platforms to share a more personal account of events and occurrences, while fans ceaselessly plaster their own experiences over Snapchat, Instagram, and a plethora of live-streams.

In the past, many major sporting associations attempted to restrict the sharing of such content in an effort to appease broadcasting partners, who pay nothing short of a fortune for the rights to many of these events. However the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has surprised some with the contents of their newly-published official guidelines regarding teams’ and players’ use of social media services during the competition, as they have substantially relaxed their previously-established rules concerning filming in official Paralympic venues.

Under the new guidelines, live-streaming and/or filming within the venues while events are in play remains prohibited, however all accredited persons to which the guidelines apply (e.g. athletes, coaches, officials, personnel of NPCs and of Ifs) will be permitted to share their experiences while off the field of play. The new guidelines were drawn up to incorporate the views of participating athletes in the hope of providing further clarity and encouraging participants to comply.

“We wanted to ensure that the guidelines are as clear as possible so that all athletes understand what they can and can’t do, yet still ensuring they can share their experience across their social media networks,” said Chelsey Gotell, Chair of the IPC Athletes’ Council.

“The IPC Athlete Council is keenly aware of the importance that social media plays in most athletes’ lives, especially when it comes to promotion and competing at the Paralympic Games.

“Just as it is important to protect the sponsors and broadcaster rights to the Paralympic Games and the IPC, it is also vital to ensure that athletes are given realistic opportunities to share their Games experience and capitalise on the momentum that is gained throughout the Paralympic Games, when the world’s eyes are on them.”

The guidelines are not applicable to broadcasters and accredited media, with the IPC stating that rights-holding broadcasters should refer to their broadcast license agreement, while accredited media will be required to adhere to the IPC’s news access code. National Paralympic Committees, Federations, and of course PyeongChang 2018 officials will be able to draw up their own digital media guidelines; however these must operate within the framework already set out by the IPC.

With video views on IPC’s digital channels experiencing a 12-fold increase between the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, and the reach of their social media posts increasing by 500% in the same timeframe, the IPC will undoubtedly be hoping that these newly relaxed guidelines will help them to capitalise on the extensive audience offered by social media platforms, all while continuing to protect the rights of broadcasting partners.

Craig Spence, Director of Communications for the IPC, commented, “We want to see similar leaps from what we achieved in Sochi to what we hope we can achieve on IPC channels in PyeongChang. We need the whole Paralympic Movement to get behind the Games and help us to make a real impact on social media.

“We want to enable people to create that buzz on social media, which we believe will help to drive TV audiences and raise awareness about the Paralympics.
“At the same time, the guidelines aim to protect our rights holding broadcasters and sponsors, without whose investment the Paralympic Games would not be possible.”
A brief summary of the new guidelines, as published by the IPC, reads as follows:

You can -
  • Use social media to share your experience
  • Post information directly relating to your performance
  • Answer questions from the media via social channels
  • Upload video that is not live stream and does not show the competition
You can't -
  • Commercialise posts
  • Publicise sponsors
  • Show moving images of competition, e.g. races, matches, games etc.
  • Live stream video from venues
  • Share private information about fellow athletes
  • Film in the Residential Zone, except for your own private athlete accommodation
The full report is available for download via this link.

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