David Owen: "Moving into the 21st century": which IOC member gets the gold medal for Tweeting?

Wednesday, 15 January 2014
David Owen"Moving in to the 21st century," tweeted Beckie Scott, the Canadian International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, on January 10.

"Finally joining Twitter!"

Thus prompted, I thought it would be interesting to check how many of Scott's 109 IOC colleagues had beaten her to the punch.

After all, no-one disputes how critical it is for theOlympic Movement that it continue to excite young people in a world of multiple alternative attractions.

And, while you probably would not expect members' personal social media accounts to be the Movement's main channel of communication in this vibrant virtual universe, they could certainly help create the impression that the bigwigs of international sport are tuned in to youth concerns.

In an increasingly digital age, only around 30 of the 110 IOC members appear to have accounts with more than 10 followers In an increasingly digital age, only around 30 of the 110 IOC members appear to have accounts with more than 10 followers ©Getty Images

First, a disclaimer: it is sometimes hard to be absolutely certain that an account is truly what it purports to be in the Twittersphere; I might also inadvertently have missed some members' offerings altogether. If Ihave, apologies.

But, keeping this in mind, this is what I found.

First, the medium does not exactly appear to have swept through the IOC like wildfire: only around 30 of the 110 IOC members seemed to have accounts with more than 10 followers.

(Well under a week after joining, Beckie Scott already had more followers than all but 16 of her colleagues.)

Second, this is changing, with a high proportion of those most active on Twitter having become IOC members in the last few years.

But third, advanced age need not be a barrier to a fruitful and effective Twitter career.

The most successful Tweeter of all among IOC members,measured by the number of followers, after all, is a 77-year-old man from Visp, Switzerland who is seldom held up as the epitome of cool, even among sports administrators.

Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA, is top of the Twitter tree among the IOC's membersSepp Blatter, President of FIFA, is top of the Twitter tree among the IOC's members
©Getty Images


Step forward Joseph Blatter, President of FIFA, world football's governing body, whose total of well over half a million followers is, I think, more than the aggregate of all his IOC colleagues added together.

Lying a strong second with around half Blatter's total of followers is Angela Ruggiero, the 34-year-old US ice hockey star.

Completing the podium is Gerardo Werthein, President of the Argentine Olympic Committee, who is one of two prominent businessmen in the top seven, the other being Camiel Eurlings, chief executive of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, a new IOC member.

The full Top 20 is reproduced below:

Top 20

1. Joseph Blatter Switzerland 511,989
2. Angela Ruggiero USA 247,019
3. Gerardo Werthein Argentina 65,167
4. Stefan Holm Sweden 32,749
5. Tony Estanguet France 19,073
6. Kirsty Coventry Zimbabwe 16,967
7. Camie lEurlings Netherlands 5,999
8. Sheikh Tamim Qatar 3,545
9. Alexander Zhukov Russia 2,180
10. Sergey Bubka Ukraine 1,277
11. Claudia Bokel Germany 1,171
12. James Tomkins Australia 875
13. Barbara Kendall New Zealand 722
14. Marisol Casado Spain 607
15. Danka Barteková Slovakia 275
16. Pál Schmitt Hungary 248
17. Rebecca Scott Canada 198
18. Kun-hee Lee South Korea 146
19. Anita DeFrantz USA 85
20. Paul Tergat Kenya 62

Spectators in London used their mobile phones to record and photographs British athletes as they celebrated their London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic successSpectators in London used their mobile phones to record and photograph British athletes as they celebrated their London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic success at the post-Games athletes' parade ©Getty Images

It will be interesting to see how much this list has changed, and how much follower numbers have grown, in 12 months' time.

Unless IOC President Thomas Bach takes to Twitter with avengeance, I would be surprised if Blatter isn't the first IOC member to sail past a million followers, perhaps during this summer's FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

David Owen worked for 20 years for the Financial Times in the United States, Canada, France and the UK.He ended his FT career as sports editor after the 2006 World Cup and is now freelancing, including covering the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2010 World Cup and London 2012. Owen's Twitter feed can be accessed here.
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