March 2 - Australian athletes have been warned against using Twitter at London 2012 after officials found competitors tweeting during the Olympic diving test event last month at the Aquatics Centre on the Olympic Park.

According to the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), one diver's tweet during the diving test event – the 18th FINA Diving World Cup – read: "I'm a novice. I will stop tweeting next round. Distraction!"

It rounded off a bad display by Australia at the test event which was summed up when Matt Mitcham (pictured), the country's 10 metre platform Olympic champion, put in a poor performance to finish well back in 13th place despite many predicting he would medal at the competition.

Mike Tancred, the AOC director of media and communications, fears athletes tweeting during competition will be distracted and, although there will be no blanket ban, he said that coaches and team managers needed to implement rules to eliminate the risk of social media undermining performances at London 2012.

"The problem was highlighted at the diving test event in London where athletes were tweeting during the competition," Tancred said in AOC's official London 2012 Olympic newsletter.

"Diving officials stopped the use of social media during the competition, which was also a World Cup event, once they learned it was happening.

"Clearly athletes are distracted when they should be totally focused on their sport."

The AOC are looking to avoid a repeat of the major gaffe from one of the country's biggest swimming stars Stephanie Rice (pictured).

The 23-year-old, who claimed three golds and three world records at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, came under huge criticism and lost her Jaguar sponsorship for a tweet in September 2010.

After watching her former boyfriend Quade Cooper, the Australian rugby full-back, and his teammates beat South Africa she tweeted: "Suck on that faggots."

Rice admits she has regretted for the incident ever since and last year, she granted permission for the AOC to use the video of her tearful apology in special Twitter workshops attended by 1,200 Australian athletes aiming for the London Games.

Rice informed the AOC that she wanted to turn one of the more difficult moments of her life into a positive.

"She was happy for us to use the clip to show how easy it is to fall foul of the social media," Tancred said ahead of the Twitter workshop last year.

"She is going to help other athletes not make the mistake.

"Since Beijing there has been an explosion in the social media.

"Young athletes, not just footballers, are getting into trouble on social media.

"They are not understanding that what they write to family or friends is not necessarily in private, and is in the public domain.

"We are all aware of what happened to Stephanie Rice, so now we are going to implement some rules in our team agreement which every athlete and coach has to sign for London.

"That is the AOC will have no legal liability for anything posted on a social media site by an athlete or team member.

"I want to stress we are not banning social media as long as it is in good taste and is positive."

-Tom Degun

Source:www.insidethegames.biz


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