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Olympics volunteers urged not to blab online

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Volunteers at this year's Olympics should not "get involved in detailed discussion about the games online", according to guildelines issued by organisers, a report says.

A spokesman for the London Organising Committee (LOCOG) told Out-Law.com that the volunteers, known as 'Games Makers', would be advised to go through official channels before commenting in the media, though they would not be forced to do so.

The spokesman rejected claims that the organisation had banned volunteers from making unapproved comments. He said LOCOG had issued the volunteers with "guidelines" about their interaction with the media and their use of social media during the Games with the intention of helping those inexperienced in media-handling from being "tricked".

The guidelines include a "what to do and what not to do" section, according to a report by the BBC. Volunteers are told "not to disclose their location; not to post a picture or video of LOCOG backstage areas closed to the public; not to disclose breaking news about an athlete; not to tell their social network about a visiting VIP, eg an athlete, celebrity or dignitary; not to get involved in detailed discussion about the Games online," the report said. The volunteers are allowed to 'retweet' official London 2012 messages, it said.

"We are encouraging the volunteers to speak to the media. We are not trying to control them or gag them. The majority of the media requests that the Games Makers get are for straightforward profile pieces which is fine, but there is going to be some media that will want to trick them in some way and we want to look after them as members of our workforce. The guidelines are about us helping them with their interaction with the media," the spokesman said.

"As part of the workforce - and this would happen in other organisations - the line manager would have a word to say 'you have done this' and 'be careful about how you are doing this'. We are not going to come down heavy-handed and throw them out," he said.

The spokesman refused Out-Law.com's request for a copy of the guidelines, stating that the material was only sent out to the volunteers. However, he said that some of the coverage about the guidelines issued had been "inaccurate".

The LOCOG spokesman said the guidelines had been issued because there were "security elements" associated to the release of some Games-related information.

Up to 70,000 'Games Makers' are expected to help in the operation of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games when they begin later this summer. New regulations setting out restrictions on the use of Olympic advertising and street trading around events came info force last month. There are also strict rules in place on the use of Olympic branding and other intellectual property.

Copyright © 2012, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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