“These Olympics, every story has the potential to be heard. On Facebook, all athletes can have an audience, and every fan can track how their heroes are doing, support them, encourage them, and share their stories with the world,” said Joanna Shields, VP and Managing Director at Facebook.
Athletes, teams and sports are listed on the Explore London 2012 page. When the user clicks on a name or a sport, the page is automatically “liked.”
Swimmer Michael Phelps is listed among the first ten athletes on Explore London 2012. Clicking on his picture will help direct you to Phelps' official fan page, where he has 5.3 million “likes." On Phelps' page, he updates fans on his training, media appearances and social causes. Those interested can also share their support.
The official London 2012 Olympic site already has a small area under the page's black navigation toolbar where fans can connect to the Games through Twitter and Facebook, but it's almost hidden on an already busy page.
“The Olympics has been connecting fans with memorable sporting events and moments for more than a century, first in the stadiums, then through television and now on social media,” said Mark Adams, Director of Communications at the International Olympic Committee. “It makes sense to give fans the best experience we can and these will be the first truly 'social' Games.'”
The IOC goes to great lengths to protect the Olympic brand, and won’t allow Facebook to put ads on the Explore London 2012 page. Athletes won’t be allowed to post video of themselves competing at the Games either.
While NBC paid more than 2 billion dollars for the rights to broadcast the Olympics in 2010 and 2012 in the U.S., Facebook is getting their Olympic connection for free.
The Explore London 2012 Facebook page is available in 22 languages, and already boasts more than 100 million connections between athletes and fans.