Reporters covering the 2014 Sochi Winter Games in February will not be tweeting, Instagramming, Vining, or Pinteresting the Olympics because they stand to be stripped of their access if they are caught using their iPhone or any other amateur gadgets to post photos.
At a seminar for sports reporters covering the games on Friday, Vasily Konov, the state-run RIA's top sports journalist, made clear any time a journalist is caught using their phone to capture the Games in real time it "will be considered a serious violation and will result in cancellation of accreditation." RIA's sports division handles accreditation for Sochi. Only photographers will special passes and appropriate equipment — proper SLR and digital video cameras — will be able to document the action. "The organizers, of course, will not affect the usual crowd," Konov told the gathered reporters, but assured them organizers would punish those who are caught.
(Update, 2:51 p.m.: Talk about receiving mixed messages! International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams tells USA Today's For The Win that sharing pictures and videos on social media will not only be allowed, but encouraged. The horror! "Please take as many photos as you like!" Adams said. "Sharing pix on social media positively (is) encouraged.")
The penalty is a serious one for such a trivial crime. But this isn't a case of Russia cracking down on the rights and freedoms ahead of a world event. The 2012 Summer Olympics in London had similar restrictions on reporters' abilities to take photos and videos but it wasn't widely enforced, as Capital New York's Alex Weprin points out. From the London Games' press kit guidelines:
Participants and other accredited persons cannot post any video and/or audio of the events, competitions or any other activities which occur at Olympic Venues. Such video and/or audio must only be for personal use and must not be uploaded and/or shared to a posting, blog or tweet on any social media platforms, or to a website.
But Russia promises to crack down on the extra curricular photography. Perhaps they're worried reporters will catch how the Olympic sites that aren't quite constructed yet, and some are worried they won't finish before the Games, which are only a few months away. "Of course we are prepared," Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov promised in September. At least they have that hoarded snow to cover things up with.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.