Aussie athletes free to tweet at Sochi: officials

Sydney: The Australian Olympic Committee on Monday denied there was a blanket ban on the use of social media such as Twitter by athletes at the winter Olympics in Sochi.

"On the contrary, Australian athletes are encouraged to use social media, but urged to use it responsibly," Australian Olympic Team Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman said in a statement.

"The only restriction applies to the use of social media inside each athlete`s training and competition venue."

Chesterman said the restriction was designed to help athletes "focus 100 percent on their event" and athletes and coaches were free to use social media at all other times while in Russia.

"In the 408-hour period of the Sochi Games athletes, on average, will be restricted by about 14 where they can`t tweet," he said.

"The other 394 hours they are free to tweet as much as they want," adding that this did not seem restrictive and was based on best-practice models of some of the country`s most successful Olympians.

His comments come after 27-year-old snowboarder Torah Bright, who won a gold medal in the halfpipe in Vancouver four years ago, told The Australian that only she would control how she used social media.

"Let me enjoy the sport of snowboarding and share it with the world," she told the newspaper.

"I care not for the trivial policies of an organisation that comes into my sport once every four years.

"Freedom of choice and speech are humanity`s greatest gifts. I am the master of my social media. I am captain of my voice."

The new rules come after Australia`s poor showing at the 2012 summer Olympics in London, where athletes` use of social media was widespread.