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Facebook launches Explore London 2012 for its first Social Olympics
Facebook launches Explore London 2012 for its first Social Olympics
By: Sneha Bokil-Paranjape

So what if you cannot watch the London Olympics this summer. Facebook has come to rescue of all the sports fanatics.

The social network is launching Explore London 2012 in a dedicated page for athletes to communicate with fans and provide their own personalized updates around the event, including medal wins and their own photographs as well as status updates.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Facebook have entered into a partnership to bring the forthcoming London Olympics on the world's largest social network. Facebook says it intends to add national Olympics broadcasters such as NBC and Olympic sponsors to the London 2012 portal in the coming weeks.

It may be recalled that Facebook has already launched its own official The Olympics Page, which has so far received 2.8 million Likes. The page has pictures of the preparations going on in London for the forthcoming games. Facebook is also providing games news.

Moreover, Facebook is adding other data to pad out the story: historical photographs and other information about notable events — part of an effort to be able to claim that 2012 will mark the first “Social Olympics.”

According to a report from TechCrunch, officials from the International Olympics had started working with Facebook on the effort some 18 months ago. So far there are only 250 of more than 10,000 Olympic athletes on the site and the number is expected to rise in near future.

Last month location based social networking site, Foursquare had partnered with IOC to enable its member check-in to various historic Olympic locations. There will also be dedicated portals on Google+, as well as a Twitter branded page, partnership with Foursquare, a project with Tumblr, and Instagram.

A number of broadcasters and other media companies are integrating Facebook into their own Olympics sites to enhance the social aspect of the experience.

What’s perhaps most cool about the Facebook Olympics effort — and that of other social media sites — is that it will be one more example of how much more democratizing the event has become with the evolution of the internet.

It also marks another kind of evolution of how the International Olympics Committee is also trying to make the whole thing into a more social and audience-focused event.

To get Olympic updates on Facebook, all you have to do is “like” the pages for your favourite athletes, sports, or national teams via the Explore London 2012 portal. Then updates from that person's or sport's page, including personal status updates, medal standings, and photos, are pushed to your news feed.

Furthermore, there are links to the Olympic national teams, and then to specific Olympic sports such as boxing, gymnastics, tennis, triathlon, and volleyball. The London Olympics will have a total of 36 sports of which there are 25 links on the portal currently.

The site features pages dedicated to specific Olympic sports and links to the official pages of about 60 national teams including household names such as swimmer Michael Phelps, basketball stars Kobe Bryant, David Beckham and so on.

Each Olympic sport is linked to the page for that sport's official international body. For example liking Tennis means you'll get updates from the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

While millions of people will likely be drawn to the pages, Facebook has also announced that it will not run any advertising alongside the content.

The London Olympic 2012 Games will kick-start from July 27.