IOC bans athletes and fans from posting videos on social media at Olympics

TOKYO – Sharing videos from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on social media is not allowed, even for athletes, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Thursday as it looked to protect broadcasters’ rights.

Jamaican double gold medalist sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah was blocked briefly from Instagram on Wednesday after she had posted videos of her victorious 100 and 200 meters races to her 310,000 followers, violating broadcast rights for the Games.

A Facebook spokesperson later said that while the content from Facebook-owned Instagram was removed, the suspension was wrongly applied.

“We encourage people, we encourage everybody, to share still pictures of performances, but the video obviously belongs to the rights-holding broadcasters,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.

The IOC will receive more than $4 billion in broadcasting rights for the period, including the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and the Tokyo Games, much of which goes back into the Games and in supporting sports and athletes.

Instagram temporarily blocked Jamaica's Elaine Thompson-Herah for violating broadcast rights when she shared videos following her gold medal victories.
Instagram temporarily blocked Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah for violating broadcast rights when she shared videos following her gold medal victories.

The biggest single chunk of that money comes from US broadcaster NBCUniversal – which has paid $7.65 billion to extend its US broadcast rights for the Olympics through 2032.

Adams said that 90 percent of the income from broadcasters that the IOC gets is redistributed. “That money comes to the IOC. We have to protect their rights and therefore the income which we can redistribute to athletes and sports.”

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Social media has increasingly become a key way for audiences to engage with the Games.

This year, athletes have posted viral TikToks from behind the scenes, including jumping on their much-discussed cardboard beds to debunk claims the beds were not strong enough to withstand vigorous activity and were therefore “anti-sex.”

But there are copyright and other restrictions on the kinds of online content that can be posted from the Games.

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