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Olympics and social media

On your marks, get set, tweet!

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Athletes will be in front of and behind mobile devices at the Rio Olympic Games (Keystone)

Athletes will be in front of and behind mobile devices at the Rio Olympic Games


Of the 105 Swiss Olympians heading to Rio, 57 have Twitter accounts. swissinfo.ch has created a Twitter list with all their latest posts, showing Switzerland’s multilingual athletes working, resting and playing before and during the Games.

Before he surprisingly hung up his racket for the rest of the season on July 26, Roger Federer got the gold medal for popularity with 6.01 million Twitter followers (although even he is put to shame by the 44.9 million of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo).

In Federer’s absence, fellow tennis star Stan Wawrinka had the most followers (681,000) – until he too pulled out injured on August 2!

That meant road cyclist Fabian Cancellara, a double Olympic gold medallist is the most-followed Swiss in Rio (483,000 as of August 2), ahead of mountain bike world champion Nino Schurter (30,200) and defending Olympic horse-jumping champion Steve Guerdat (16,900).

Among the 46 Swiss women going to the Summer Olympics, which take place from August 5-21, Martina Hingis has the most followers (171,000), seeing off fellow tennis player Timea Bacsinszky (26,500) and Jolanda Neff (11,400), who will be busy representing Switzerland in two events (mountain biking and road racing).

If you want to be popular, play tennis! Belinda Bencic, who was set to partner Federer and Hingis in Rio, has 41,900 followers on Twitter but pulled out on July 27, saying a wrist injury had healed but she wasn’t ready to play.

When it comes to actually tweeting, some people – and disciplines – are more prolific than others.

Wawrinka rewards his fans the most, with 7,210 tweets – but he no longer counts. High tweetage is also registered by Cancellara (3,177), Schurter (2,669) and marathon runner Christian Kreienbühl (1,894).

The busiest female tweeter is Nicola Spirig (2,398), who will be aiming to defend her gold in the triathlon. She saw off Neff (1,779) and Bacsinszky (1,072).

In a recent post, Cancellara divulged some of his Olympic preparation:

If any other cyclists are busy studying the fifth “Fast & Furious” film – which involves high-speed car chases through Rio – they have yet to admit it.

Rower Mario Gyr tweeted a picture of his sleeping quarters: "effective mosquito protection or dreamy four-poster bed for a kid?"

Advantage social media

Switzerland’s beach volleyballers appear to have the most time on their hands – or are keenest to keep in touch with their fans, depending on how you look at it – with all four having Twitter accounts.

All tennis players and almost all cyclists and – some of Switzerland’s biggest stars – are also on Twitter, whereas only a third of sailors and swimmers are. Obviously smartphones and water don’t mix.

The swissinfo.ch Twitter list, which is displayed at the top of our homepage, also includes the accounts of Swiss Olympic and the House of Switzerland, run by the government office responsible for Switzerland’s image abroad.

What are Switzerland's chances at the Olympics and how does this compare to how they performed in years gone by? In this video, originally broadcast live on Facebook, journalists Thomas Stephens and Jo Fahy take a look at the Swiss team.

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