I am on a lugeUnless you have been hiding in a cupboard for the last few months, you will be well aware of the fact that the Olympics are well and truly on their way to London.

As well as promising to be the best games ever, Olympic bosses have also said that London 2012 will be the first “social media games”. But how?, you may ask…

Well, for the first time ever, it is hoped that athletes will interact readily on various platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to provide new insights about the events to the general public. In order to avoid any potentially embarrassing situations, the athletes have been handed hefty guidelines about the types of tweets that are/aren’t suitable (sporting fans are no doubt likely to think of some previous examples including footballers airing their disagreements with the referees, that no doubt the IOC are keen to avoid).

However, what is arguably more exciting for us mere members of the public, is that the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and location-based social network, Foursquare have teamed up to allow fans of the games to ‘check in’ at various significant locations across the globe. So what constitutes a significant location? As well as stadiums and training venues, locations that have ‘inspired’ athletes are to be included as well as future venues such as Copacabana Beach – the beach volleyball venue for the Rio de Janeiro games in 2016

The head of social media at the IOC, Alex Huot stated: “Our integration with Foursquare and the ability to leave location-based tips from the athletes is one more way to serve highly engaged fans of the Olympic Games and to integrate social media directly into the Olympic fan experience.”

If the pleasure of ‘checking-in’ isn’t quite enough, users that ‘check-in’ to any one of the Olympics venues twice or more, will then ‘unlock’ a special Olympic badge which gives them the chance to win a ticket to the games.

Whilst the remote chance of winning a ticket may not appeal to everyone, I think that it is interesting to see how the Olympics is embracing social media, both with Foursquare and by encouraging athletes to tweet about their experiences. This is almost a stark contrast from other sporting events (such as the 2010 World Cup) whereby players are often banned from using social media sites.

What do you think, a sign of things to come, or a recipe for disaster?

Image via http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonwick/