(Bloomberg) — The growing focus on mental health at the Olympic Games is bringing attention to the pitfalls and benefits of social media use by athletes, for whom platforms like Instagram and TikTok help them stay connected with fans amid the isolation of the pandemic while also leaving them vulnerable to abuse.
South Korean archer An San, who won three gold medals at the games, became the target of misogynist attacks online from people who criticized her short hairstyle as being “feminist.” Japanese mixed-doubles table tennis winner Jun Mizutani said in a now-deleted Twitter post after his victory over China that he was getting anonymous death threats online, without naming the origins of the messages.
“There are definitely a lot of mean people out there who just say stuff that don’t need to be said,” said U.S. gymnast Sunisa Lee after winning gold in the women’s individual all-around event on Thursday.
The rising interest in athletes’ mental wellbeing and the impact of social media prompted International Olympic Committee member Kirsty Coventry, herself a former swimmer for Zimbabwe, to reveal that she had quit social media in the past year.
“In the last couple of days we’ve heard of a few athletes who have gone off social media,” she told reporters Thursday. “As nice and supportive as some can be, the negative comments — even if they are the fewest comments — can be really hurtful to athletes.”
Many athletes use social media to feel empowered by sharing their voice, expanding their sphere of influence, fostering connections and building personal brands, said Fernando Frias, a sports psychologist at Oregon State University. But the significance of the Olympics, compounded with heightened national pride, also means more people are likely to direct negativity at athletes online.
The situation facing Japanese athletes is further complicated by the polarization in society over the decision to hold the Olympics during the pandemic. As a result, more people are taking their anger out online at athletes, said Yuji Ishizaka, a sports sociologist at Nara Women’s University.
Japanese gymnast Mai Murakami conceded that she had been affected by cyberbullying.
“I know there are people who were against holding the Olympics, and at the same time, I know there are people who are supportive,” she told reporters through tears after the all-around women’s event on Thursday. “And even though I don’t want to see those negative comments and as much as I try to ignore them, the information comes through and I pick it up before I know it. It was very hurtful and sad.”
At the same time, social media has been an important way for athletes to stay in touch with family and fans due to the travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic, and to draw attention to less popular sports or newer sports.
Rayssa Leal, the 13-year-old Brazilian skateboarder, added 4.5 million Instagram followers over two days after she won a silver medal, according to Facebook Inc.
U.S. rugby player Ilona Maher saw her followers on TikTok triple in number after she started videos from the Olympic Village with comical commentary on attractive athletes and cardboard beds.
“It’s also been a great tool to use for my own personal branding and getting my name out there. And hopefully also for my sport and getting rugby out there,” she said.
And quitting social media may not even be an option for some athletes, particularly those from poorer countries for whom building an online following has been instrumental to their success. For example, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who won the first gold medal ever for the Philippines, got enough money to go to Tokyo after posting an Instagram story in 2019 asking for financial support.
To help ameliorate some of the negative impact from social media, athletes can turn to psychologists who travel with their teams for help. Internet companies are also recognizing their role in minimizing harm experienced by athletes online. Facebook, for example, launched a private Instagram support account for athletes leading up to the games, according to Joyee Biswas, its head of sports partnerships in Asia-Pacific.
Frias, the sports psychologist, even suggested that social media literacy even be built into curricula in early childhood education and in sports training.
“I encourage athletes to engage mindfully and intentionally with social media while setting clear boundaries regarding communication with followers and time spent,” he said.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Media Advisory: Ministers Stoodley and Davis to Attend Run for Women in Support of Stella's Circle – News Releases – Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
On Sunday, June 26 the Honourable Sarah Stoodley, Minister of Digital Government and Service NL and the Honourable Bernard Davis, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, will attend the LOVE YOU’ by Shoppers Drug Mart Run for Women, in support of women’s mental health programs at Stella’s Circle.
The event is set to begin at 8:45 a.m. at Quidi Vidi Lake, 115 The Boulevard, St. John’s.
The Run for Women is held in 18 cities throughout Canada and focuses on Women’s Mental Health. Funds raised go to this year’s charity partner, Stella’s Circle, to specifically support programming at Naomi House and the Just Us Women’s Centre. The event also promotes physical movement as a means to creating better positive mental health outcomes.
Digital Government and Service NL
Environment and Climate Change
Newly appointed Toronto councillor resigns after controversial social media posts resurfaced – CTV News Toronto
A newly installed Toronto councillor has resigned after her old social media posts, which appear to show homophobic content, were unearthed hours following her appointment.
Rosemarie Bryan was appointed by city council as the new councillor for Ward 1 – Etobicoke North during a special meeting on Friday, filling the vacancy left by Michael Ford, who ran in June’s provincial election and won.
After she was appointed, however, Bryan’s alleged past social media activities, which appears to show her sharing anti-LGBTQ content, were brought to light.
Friday was the start of the Pride Toronto’s Festival Weekend, which features the return of the Pride Parade to downtown streets on Sunday following a two-year hiatus.
Several councillors posted to social media that had they known about Bryan’s posts, they would not have voted for her to fill the seat.
“A majority of councillors would have never this (way) had this information been brought forward. We relied too heavily on the recommendation being made by former councillor,” Coun. Mike Layton tweeted.
“We need to reopen this debate.”
Of the 23 councillors who cast their ballots, 21 voted for Bryan, including Mayor John Tory.
Coun. Josh Matlow, one of the two councillors who did not vote for Bryan, called for her resignation, tweeting that he does not believe “anyone who supports hate and bigotry should be a Toronto city councillor, or hold any public office for that matter. This is disgraceful.”
On Friday night, Bryan released a statement announcing that she is resigning, saying it’s the best way to continue serving those who love and support her in Etobicoke North.
Bryan said she is devastated that her past online posts are being “thrown against my decades of commitment to the community.”
“I recognize councillors were not aware of those posts before today’s discussion and now that they are, I recognize many would not have cast their vote for me. I don’t want to hurt all those who supported me and I remain committed to helping my community in any and every way I can,” she said.
In a statement, Tory said while Bryan made a “strong case” to council for her appointment, her past social media posts are “not acceptable.”
“I totally disagree with any homophobic or transphobic views. I absolutely support our 2SLGBTQ+ residents. City Councillors are expected to set an example when it comes to consistency with our shared values,” Tory said.
“I would not have voted for this appointment had I been aware of these posts and I know that is the sentiment of the vast majority of council who also voted today.”
He said it was appropriate for Bryan to resign.
“The upset this has caused everyone involved is extremely unfortunate. This is especially unfortunate on the very weekend when we are celebrating the progress we have made together,” Tory said, adding that he has asked staff to review the overall appointment process.
S.Korean leader's informal media events are a break with tradition – SaltWire Halifax powered by The Chronicle Herald
By Soo-hyang Choi
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean leader Yoon Suk-yeol has departed from years of tradition by holding informal daily media events to field questions on topics ranging from inflation and ties with neighbouring North Korea to the first lady and even boyband BTS.
Such wide-ranging access to the president was previously unheard of. It stems from Yoon’s decision to move his office out of the official Blue House, whose previous occupants largely steered clear of such interactions over more than seven decades.
“It’s apparently helping Yoon dispel worries about his lack of political experience and giving him a sense of where public opinion is at,” said Eom Kyeong-young, a political commentator based in the capital, Seoul.
Yoon, a former prosecutor-general, entered politics just a year ago, before winning the presidency in March by a margin of just 0.7%, the narrowest in South Korea’s history.
Upon his inauguration in May, Yoon moved the presidential office to the compound of South Korea’s defence ministry, describing the official residence as the symbol of an “imperial presidency”, and vowing not to “hide behind” his aides.
His liberal predecessor, Moon Jae-in, had rarely held news conferences, and almost always filtered his communication with the media, and the public, through layers of secretaries.
Analysts see Yoon’s daily freewheeling sessions as part of a broader communications strategy that lets him drive policy initiatives and present himself as a confident, approachable leader.
The campaign has also allayed public suspicions about the newcomer to politics, they say.
Polls show the new strategy helping to win support and much-needed political capital for Yoon in his effort to hasten recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, in a parliament dominated by the opposition Democratic Party.
Although Yoon’s approval rating dipped to 47.6% in a recent survey, slightly lower than the disapproval figure of 47.9%, another June poll showed communication was the reason most frequently cited by those who favoured him.
“The sweeping victory of Yoon’s conservative party in June local elections shows the public is not so much against the new administration,” said Eom.
Incumbents from Yoon’s People Power Party (PPP) defeated challengers for the posts of mayor in the two biggest cities of Seoul and the port city of Busan in that contest, while its candidates won five of seven parliamentary seats.
Eom attributed Yoon’s low approval rating from the beginning of his term to inflation risks that threaten to undermine an economic recovery and his lack of a support base as a new politician.
But some critics say Yoon’s sessions raise the chances that he could make mistakes.
“He could make one mistake a day,” Yun Kun-young of the opposition party wrote on Facebook last week, saying the new practice could be “the biggest risk factor” for the government.
The presidential office could not immediately be reached for comment.
Yoon has already faced criticism for controversial remarks made during the morning briefings, such as one in defence of his nominee for education minister, who has a record of driving under the influence of alcohol years ago.
But the daily meetings and public reaction would ultimately help the government to shape policy better, said Shin Yul, a professor of political science at Myongji University in Seoul.
“It might be burdensome for his aides for now, but will be an advantage in the long term,” Shin said. “A slip of the tongue cannot be a bigger problem than a policy failure.”
(Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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