Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Fans asked to tweet from Olympics only if it's 'urgent'

John D. Sutter, CNN
Broadcasters said they were unable to determine the distance between cyclists during Saturday's men's event in London.
Broadcasters said they were unable to determine the distance between cyclists during Saturday's men's event in London.
  • Network problems caused issues for Olympic broadcasters on Saturday
  • Reports: Overuse of text and Twitter caused the problems
  • Broadcasters were unable to provide stats about men's cycling road race
  • Spokesman tells The Guardian spectators should send only "urgent" tweets and texts

(CNN) -- This is supposed to be the Twitter Olympics, but tweet- and text-clogged networks appear to have caused problems for broadcasters at the London Games.

Broadcasters complained over the weekend that they were unable to determine the distance between cyclists in Saturday's road races because GPS and communications systems had failed.

A spokesman blamed the problems on overuse of Twitter and text messages.

"From my understanding, One network was oversubscribed, and OBS (the Olympic Broadcasting Service) are trying to spread the load to other providers," Mark Adams, a spokesman for the International Olympic Committee, was quoted by The Guardian as saying.

Watch lightning light up London sky
Why so many empty seats at London Games?
Rain doesn't dampen Games spirit

"We don't want to stop people engaging in this by social media," he added, "but perhaps they might consider only sending urgent updates."

An unnamed spokesman told Reuters that one mobile network was to blame, but he declined to name that network. "It's a network issue, and it is that which we are working on," he said.

The International Olympic Committee said the issue was resolved by the women's cycling road race Sunday and did not affect the outcome of the race Saturday.

"During Saturday's road race there was an issue with the network provider's signal," spokeswoman Sandrine Tonge wrote in an e-mail to CNN. "As a result the delivery of some of the data could not be sent to the broadcasters. This did not affect the time keeping of the race and the results in any way. The issue was dealt with and the system worked for the Women's road race yesterday."

Alex Girling, a spokeswoman for the London Olympics, said she was not aware that attendees had been asked to curb social media use. "I don't think it's true, to be honest," she said.

The BBC blamed its spotty coverage of Olympic cycling on network issues.

"We have raised our concerns with OBS who have explained that there were GPS problems with the (London organizing committee)-supplied timing graphics which resulted in a lack of information for the commentary teams," the broadcaster said in a statement on its website.

Dubbed the Twitter Games by some observers, the London Olympics have seen social media platforms play an unprecedented role in helping share news and opinions about events. Twitter said more people had posted about the Olympics on that network Thursday, before the opening ceremony, than had during the entire Beijing Olympics in 2008.

"With the entire world tuning in to enjoy the games, Twitter will carry the roar of the crowd," the company wrote on its official blog.

That Olympic officials would ask spectators to hold all but the most "urgent" tweets is prompting some entertaining chatter online. Can any sports-related tweet really be urgent?

"What constitutes an 'urgent' Olympic tweet is anyone's guess," Robert Andrews wrote for PaidContent. "But the request is ironic in light of the IOC's own social media commitment. That Twitter has undone coverage in this way is even more delightfully ironic for those onlookers who enjoy comparing the relative fortunes of each medium. Unlike the TV data issue, consumers do not yet appear to have experienced mobile signal issues during the games."

Part of complete coverage on
August 13, 2012 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
The moment that Team GB's Mo Farah won the 10,000 meters was a wonderful collision of electricity.
August 13, 2012 -- Updated 1534 GMT (2334 HKT)
His blistering pace and larger-than-life antics made him the king of the track in London, and bolstered his claims to be a "living legend."
August 14, 2012 -- Updated 0944 GMT (1744 HKT)
Disappointment for Nigeria's Muizat Ajoke Odumosu, who came last in the 400m hurdles final, London 2012 Olympics.
The Olympics are generally won and lost long before the opening ceremony cauldron is touched by fire.
August 12, 2012 -- Updated 0738 GMT (1538 HKT)
Fans of the home side, Team GB, wave Union Jack flags during the Olympic Games
CNN's Richard Quest believes the London Games will be regarded as having brought the Olympics concept home.
August 11, 2012 -- Updated 1633 GMT (0033 HKT)
Strategist Alastair Campbell says he never imagined London 2012 would be quite the triumph it turned out to be.
August 14, 2012 -- Updated 2057 GMT (0457 HKT)
Award-winning director Danny Boyle celebrates the best of British music in London 2012's Olympic Closing Ceremony.
January 31, 2013 -- Updated 1452 GMT (2252 HKT)
From Usain Bolt's record-setting achievements to an unexpected Ugandan gold, London 2012 has provided a wide array of highlights.
August 13, 2012 -- Updated 0305 GMT (1105 HKT)
CNN's Amanda Davies recaps the London 2012 Olympics from the opening ceremony on July 27 to the finale on day 16.
August 12, 2012 -- Updated 1702 GMT (0102 HKT)
Mo Farah and Usain Bolt celebrate their success at the London 2012 Olympic Games by copying each other's
It's been just over two weeks since the Queen parachuted into London's Olympic Stadium, her apricot dress flapping in the breeze.
August 15, 2012 -- Updated 1214 GMT (2014 HKT)
When the world's top marathon runners bid to win Olympic gold, they would do well to draw inspiration from one of the greatest athletes in the history of track and field.
August 11, 2012 -- Updated 1633 GMT (0033 HKT)
Team GB supporters with their faces painted in Union Jack designs at the Olympic Stadium in London.
Alastair Campbell always thought London 2012 would be a success, but never imagined it would be quite the triumph it has turned out to be.
August 10, 2012 -- Updated 1021 GMT (1821 HKT)
Adrien Niyonshuti is unlikely to win an Olympic medal, and he will do well to even finish his event, but his story is surely one of the most inspirational.
August 10, 2012 -- Updated 1605 GMT (0005 HKT)
The colors of the Olympic Rings at the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, August 2012.
Olympic fever has cheered up London and made it a more welcoming place, but will optimism be one of the legacies of the Games?
August 10, 2012 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Wojdan Shaherkani's Olympic debut was short, but sweet -- the Saudi judoka said competing at the Games was
London 2012 is the first Olympics to feature women in every national team, with Jacques Rogge hailing a "major boost for gender equality."
August 10, 2012 -- Updated 0040 GMT (0840 HKT)
An impoverished South Korean gymnast has not only struck Olympic gold, but also reaped a $444,000 donation in a veritable rags to riches tale.
August 9, 2012 -- Updated 0046 GMT (0846 HKT)
Britain's hero Jessica Ennis is set to cash in after winning heptathlon gold, but the poster girl of the 2012 Olympics says fame is not her motivation.
August 8, 2012 -- Updated 0746 GMT (1546 HKT)
China is rallying around fallen hurdler Liu Xiang after he failed to make it past the first-round heat for a second consecutive Olympics.
August 3, 2012 -- Updated 1930 GMT (0330 HKT)
The first woman to win Olympic gold almost died in a plane crash, but remarkably returned to run again for the U.S. in 1936.
August 7, 2012 -- Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT)
Don Paige could not bear to watch the race he knew he could win. The 1980 Moscow Olympics were the death of a dream for many athletes.
August 4, 2012 -- Updated 1421 GMT (2221 HKT)
Ricardo Blas Jr
While Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt grab the headlines, little-known athletes from around the world keep alive the original spirit of the Olympics.
Athletes spend years eating the right foods ... and then must resist the free fast food in the Olympic village. How do they do it?