The explosion in the use of social networking and smartphones in the past four years means the London 2012 Olympics will be the most tweeted, blogged and reported upon event in history.
Ironically, although the approximately 10,500 competitors are ensconced in the Olympic village behind 17 kilometres of four-metre-high electric fencing, they have probably never been more accessible to the public.
For such a carefully orchestrated and commercially controlled event as the Olympics, the thought of athletes running free and loose with their views rather than merely appearing at choreographed press conferences is anathema to the International Olympic Committee and commercial sponsors alike.
The IOC has looked to keep pace with the challenges thrown up by the social networking phenomenon with initiatives such as a social media hub that links internet users with athletes.
It has also drawn up guidelines on the use of social media - but this move is very much a gesture of futility nearly equal to that of King Canute, when he ordered the waves to retreat from the shore.
Since the Beijing Olympics, the number of Facebook users has surged to 900 million from just 100 million, while there are over 500-million active users on Twitter, compared to just 6 million in 2008.
Twitter has already claimed its first victim of the 2012 London Olympics, with Greek triple jumper Paraskevi Papachristou forced to pack her bags because of a racist tweet.
The uproar caused by her remark about West Nile mosquitoes and the number of Africans in Greece is yet another indication, if one was needed, of the ever-increasing power of social media.
Unlike the disgraced Papachristou, British gymnast Louis Smith waved goodbye to his Twitter followers when he moved into the Olympic village this week.
"It's important to show the public who we are, but this can reflect our whole life depending on what happens," he said. "I really want to put everything I can into this Olympic Games. If that means not tweeting and staying off Facebook then that's what I need to do."
Australian swimmers Nick D'Arcy and Kenrick Monk have also given up on social media for the duration of the games, but only after being banned by the Australian Olympic Committee after posting a photograph of themselves holding guns on Facebook while in the United States.
Olympic organizers have even tried to keep details of London's opening ceremony secret by appealing to rehearsal spectators and performers not to leak details of the event.
Opening ceremony director Danny Boyle has acknowledged that in the age of social media, keeping details of the event secret will be impossible.
The desire for immediate news and information is leading to a sea change in how fans and athletes alike want to experience large-scale events such as the Olympics, something broadcasters and sponsors are acutely aware of.
For the first time ever, American company NBC Universal will live stream all 3,500 hours of athletic competition to the web.
Even before the advent of social networking and the internet, investing in the Olympics has been a risky project for broadcasters.
Television rights for the years 2009-12 cost broadcasters 3.91 billion dollars, up from 2.57 billion for 2005-08.
NBC lost over 223 million dollars on the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and paid 1.18 billion for the US broadcasting rights of London 2012.
However, it has already booked a record 1 billion in advertising sales and says digital sales in 2012 increased to 60 million dollars, a 300-per-cent increase on 2008 with capacity for further growth. Its total ad sales for the London 2012 are 150 million dollars higher than Beijing.
"The proliferation of our digital, mobile and tablet Olympic content, including the decision to live stream all sporting events, played a vital role in reaching this extraordinary milestone," Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Sports Group, told the Financial Times.
Most Popular Stories
- SEO Traffic Lab Celebrate Wins at Digital Marketing Event 'Internet World 2013' in London
- Social Media Initiatives Should Follow Customers' Lead
- Apple CEO: Offshore Units Not a 'Tax Gimmick'
- U.S. Senate Accuses Apple of Large-scale Tax Avoidance
- UTEP Water Recycling Project Wins Venture Titles
- Marketo Makes a Mint in IPO: Stock Shoots Up More than 50 Percent
- Bieber Booed at Billboard Awards
- Crude Oil Up, Gasoline Down
- Austin Startup Compare Metrics Raises $3.5 Million for Expansion
- Why So Many Top 'Car Guys' Are Actually Women