SBD/July 30, 2012/Olympics

Fans' Text Messages, Tweets Blamed For Interrupting TV Coverage Of Cycling Race

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Broadcasters could not properly identify riders due to texts, tweets
Fans attending the London Games were told yesterday “to avoid non-urgent text messages and tweets during events because overloading of data networks was affecting television coverage,” according to Ormsby & Sandle of REUTERS. Commentators on Saturday's men's cycling road race “were unable to tell viewers how far the leaders were ahead of the chasing pack because data could not get through from the GPS satellite navigation system travelling with the cyclists.” Many "inadvertently made matters worse by venting their anger on Twitter at the lack of information.” An IOC spokesperson said that the network problem “had been caused by the messages sent by the hundreds of thousands of fans who lined the streets to cheer on the British team.” Official Olympic communications services providers BT, Vodafone and O2 said that they “had not seen any network problems” (REUTERS, 7/29). The GUARDIAN’s Cass Jones noted the BBC “blamed the Olympic Broadcasting Service for the lack of information which left commentator Chris Boardman using his own watch to estimate the timings.” The IOC said that fans “sending updates to Twitter while watching the race had in effect jammed transmissions of race information” (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 7/29).

GAME CHANGER: U.S. sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross was among numerous Olympians to post on their Twitter accounts, "I am honored to be an Olympian, but #WeDemandChange2012." USA TODAY reports the target of what “appears to be a coordinated campaign -- all the tweets were almost exactly the same, and many of them popped up at about the same time -- is the International Olympic Committee and Rule 40.” The rule states in part, “No competitor, coach, trainer or official who participates in the Olympic Games may allow his person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes except as permitted by the IOC Executive Board." Richards-Ross, during the blackout period, needs IOC permission to “use her own name and face.” The issue has been “bubbling out there under the surface for a while,” but “no longer” (USA TODAY, 7/30). Richards-Ross also wrote, “Now headed to one of my fave sponsors BP for my appearance ;-) think I can tweet about them #Rule40 so confusing :-/”

WATCH YOUR TWEETS
: USA TODAY’s Andy Nesbitt wrote U.S. hurdler Lolo Jones “is back in the news after posting an insensitive message on Twitter on Saturday.” Jones tweeted, “USA men’s Archer lost the gold medal to Italy but that’s ok, we are Americans…When’s da Gun shooting competition?” She later “issued the following apology/explanation on Twitter: ‘sorry u guys only think of violence but I think of all the hunting I do w southerners in da south. Its impressive'” (USA TODAY, 7/29). Meanwhile, ESPN.com’s Tim Keown wrote the Hellenic Olympic Committee made Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou “the most famous female triple jumper of the 2012 Games by telling her to stay home” after she posted an insensitive tweet. Keown: “If she had kept it to herself, she’d probably be in line to finish 17th or 18th and nobody would have ever heard her name. ... How's this for the vagaries of life in our times: An Olympic track and field athlete who spent the better part of four years training for one event in one meet achieved her goal, only to have it dashed when she tweeted a stupid and disparaging remark about Africans and mosquitoes” (ESPN.com, 7/27).

TRENDING ALERT: In London, Emma Barnett reports British actor Rowan Atkinson’s cameo performance in the Opening Ceremony “sparked the biggest spike in mentions of the event” on Twitter. The Olympics themselves have been mentioned by “more than 10million users since Friday’s ceremony.” British cyclist Lizzie Armitstead “gained new followers at a rate of 500 per second after winning silver in the women’s road race yesterday, with more than 25,000 following her less than an hour later” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/30).
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