The winter Olympic Games of 2014 that took place in Sochi, Russia have finished yesterday, Sunday 23rd February 2014. As someone who has never followed news surrounding any Olympic games, past or present, I happen to know quite a lot about this year’s Sochi event. How come? Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. Internet buzz.
Even before the event started there was a lot of criticism of the choice of Russia for such an event. There were concerns of a possible terrorist attack during the games started by news articles such as this one by the BBC. Perhaps even more discussed was the issue of Russia’s anti-LGBT laws and how this is going to affect both athletes and visitors who identify as LGBT. This issue was not only widely covered by the media but was also implemented in advertising strategies of many big brands, who wished to show their support for the LGBT community and simultaneously promoting themselves as “the good guys”, i.e. LGBT friendly. This was Google’s home page during the Opening Ceremony of Sochi 2014:
With all the pre-game Internet buzz around the Olympics, Sochi 2014 became the most social Olympic Games, meaning more people have used social media to comment on the games than they have in the past. The tweet rate of the Opening Ceremony alone was roughly 10,000 per minute and the overall count of tweets about the opening event surpassing 10 billion.
The negative criticism of the games before they even started made me think that this event might be more hated than loved. I used this text classification machine learning tool to analyze the Twitter trend #Sochi2014 and saw that the majority of tweets were neutral or positive, rather than negative. It seems that most people’s focus during the games, unlike before them, was indeed on the sport and athletes themselves rather than the organization behind the event:
An example of a negative, a positive and a neutral tweet:
Today, just one day after the closing ceremony I followed the #Sochi2014 hashtag using Flocker [http://flocker.outliers.es], which was still very much active. In just 10 minutes more than 500 tweets came in, producing the following Twitter cloud:
The most popular tweets and users:
With social media being used by more people more frequently every day, it will be interesting to see what the next Olympic Games bring.