It is Christmas week at insidethegames, which means that it is time for our annual survey of top International Olympic Committee (IOC) Tweeters. This is the sixth time we have compiled such a list, and 2018 brings the fourth new IOC Twitter champion – and the first from Asia. After Sepp Blatter (Europe), Angela Ruggiero (North America) and Gerardo Werthein (South America), Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani from the wealthy Gulf state of Qatar, prospective host of the next FIFA World Cup in 2022, has taken over comfortably at the head of the table.
Qatar’s 38-year-old Emir, an IOC member for sixteen years already, now has three times as many followers as his closest challengers.
For the purposes of this exercise, we monitor two accounts – @TameemAlthani, much the more popular, and @TheSheikhTamim.
Edging closer to the top in second place is the former Olympic canoeist Tony Estanguet of France, whose Presidency of Paris 2024 enables him to maintain a high profile.
Estanguet’s margin over ex-swimmer Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe in third place has narrowed dramatically, however.
The 35-year-old double Olympic backstroke gold medallist has been a busy and prominent figure since succeeding the United States’s Angela Ruggiero as chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission.
With the American now having left the IOC altogether, Coventry also succeeds her as the IOC’s top woman Tweeter, although Russia’s Yelena Isinbaeva, the former pole-vaulter, has risen quickly from ninth – to sixth-place, and may eventually challenge her. IOC Twitter champion of the past two years, Argentina’s Gerardo Werthein, has dropped to fifth spot after suffering an abrupt decline in his follower count.
After winning with 435 000 followers last year, the 63-year-old’s following has dropped to 115 000.
It is hard to be sure why, although it seems possible there might be a link to Twitter’s decision last July to remove locked accounts from follower numbers.
This appeared to result in a decline in follower numbers for a wide range of popular accounts, including many celebrities. Another fast-rising IOC Tweeter is India’s Nita Ambani, up from twentieth to eleventh, with an account – @ambaninitaa – now labelled unofficial.
The highest-ranking new IOC member is US cross-country skier Kikkan Randall, who comes in just below Ambani in twelfth spot. Uganda’s William Blick and Andrew Parsons, the International Paralympic Committee President, are further members of the 2018 intake to jump straight into a Top Twenty that now requires more than 3 000 followers to enter.
It should be noted though that another new IOC member – Italy’s Giovanni Malagò – would also have made his entrance above Sergey Bubka in thirteenth spot had we taken our readings a few days later. This is because Malagò’s membership becomes effective only on January 1, 2019.