Olympics 2012: Top 10 Twitter Controversies, From Hope Solo's NBC Beef to Gabby Douglas' Hair
Two players were banned from the 2012 Summer Games for offensive tweets, and a U.K. teenager was arrested for making threats after a diver finished fourth.
Watching Twitter watch the Olympics has become a spectator sport in its own right. From multiple athletes losing their spots over racist tweets to a U.K. teenager’s arrest for making threats over Twitter, there's been nearly as much drama online as in the Games proper.
In no particular order, here are 10 of the most remarkable Twitter controversies surrounding the 2012 Summer Games.
1. Gabby Douglas' Hair
Sixteen-year-old Gabby Douglas helped bring home the first gold for Team USA’s women’s gymnastic team since 1996. But it was her hair -- not her talent -- that some Twitter commentators took note of. Her gelled ponytail, it seemed, wasn't neat-looking enough for them.
i don't care... 16 or 26 , black or white ... gabby douglas' hair is ratch..— Cody Dilla-Cudi(@_ihateCody) August 1, 2012
on another note, gabby douglas gotta do something with this hair! these clips and this brown gel residue aint it!— C. Renée (@misDOScentavos) July 27, 2012
But fans eventually spoke up to defend Douglas and to praise her accomplishments.
People busy talking about Gabby Douglas not having her hair done?? She's busy sweating & WINNING GOLD MEDALS.. you're on TWITTER. Right.— SP (@SPmusik) August 1, 2012
If u have a duaghter, young neice or work w/ young girls, let them know they are ok.. nappy hair and all-I noticed Gabby smile not her hair— Davey D (@mrdaveyd) August 2, 2012
2. Lolo Jones (Possibly) Makes Colorado Shooting Joke
Lolo Jones got some flack for this Tweet, which the Twitterverse took as a reference to last month's tragic shooting in Aurora, Colo.:
USA Men's Archery lost the gold medal to Italy but that's ok, we are Americans... When's da Gun shooting competition?— Lolo Jones (@lolojones) July 28, 2012
Pounced upon by critics, she quickly apologized, saying "sorry u guys only think of violence but I think of all the hunting I do w southerners in da south. Its impressive."
Jones also received her fair share of defenders, who said the tweet was simply her praising the skill of the U.S. Olympic skeet shooters. (U.S. men and women would eventually both take gold.)
Gold in both men's and women's "gun shootin" @lolojones was right. Hope the lame stream media is aploigic to her.— HANK HILL (@SprankleGoneRaw) July 31, 2012
3. Voula Papachristou Kicked Off Team for Racist Tweet
The 23-year-old Greek triple-jumper didn’t even make it to the Games. After the emergence of West Nile Virus-carrying mosquitos in Greece, she tweeted, “With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitos will be gettin' some home cookin'!"
She was booted from the team, and in her most recent, apologized to her family and coach. “My dream is connected to the Olympic Games and I could not possibly participate if I did not respect their values,” she wrote. “Therefore, I could never believe in discrimination between human beings and races."
4. British Journalist Guy Adams Suspended From Twitter
Twitter banished Guy Adams, an L.A.-based editor for The Independent, after a barrage of tweets in which he was critical of NBC’s coverage of the Games. The straw that broke the camel’s back came when Adams tweeted the email address of NBC executive Gary Zenkel, and encouraged people to contact him. Adams’ account was later reinstated, after much public outcry.
5. Swiss Soccer Player Michel Morganella Calls South Koreans “Bunch of Mongoloids"
Voula Papachristou, 23, became the second athlete to be removed from an Olympic team after a tweet. The multi-lingual player was upset after a loss to the South Korean team, and tweeted South Koreans "can go burn" and called them a "bunch of mongoloids." While widely condemned, some debated whether it was a racist tweet, or simply rude.
Insulting or rude, yes, but how is this tweet 'racist'?: ANOTHER Olympic Athlete Has Been Banned For A Racist Tweet read.bi/M5CInG— Namrata Balwani (@mysti) August 2, 2012
6. Hope Solo Slams NBC Commentator
Olympic soccer goalie Hope Solo made a stir for slamming what she considered subpar Olympic coverage from former soccer player Brandi Chastain.
This being Twitter, it didn't take long to pick Solo's assertion apart.
7. NBC Exec Jumps Into the Fray
NBC has been much-criticized over its decision to run the Games on a tape delay, and TV critic James Poniewozik expressed his annoyance this way:
NBC time-delay coverage is like the airlines: its interest is in giving you the least satisfactory service you will still come back for.— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) July 29, 2012
NBC executive James Bell responded to ask if Poniewozik knew the events were also live-streamed.
@poniewozik know a critic is a critic but how about acknowledging major advance of live stream sted of airline cracks?— Jim Bell (@jfb) July 29, 2012
For his part, Poniewozik later tweeted that though he disagreed with NBC's tape-delay, he respected Bell for engaging viewers and critics.
8. Mass Tweeting Disrupts Men’s Road Bicycle Race
At July 28’s men’s road bicycle race, all of the tweeters lining the streets actually disrupted the bandwidth officials needed to report times to TV viewers. Olympic officials were later forced to beg bystanders not to tweet or send text messages unless they were urgent.
"It's just, if it's not an urgent, urgent one, please kind of take it easy,” an official said." We don't want people to stop engaging in social media, but we are asking to see if people can send by other means."
9. U.K. Teenager Arrested for Threatening Tweets
British Olympic diver Tom Daley fell victim to increasingly threatening tweets from a British teenager, who was angry the athlete had placed fourth in synchronized diving.
— ЯIᄂΣY JЦПIӨЯ (@Rileyy_69) July 30, 2012
@tomdaley1994 you let your dad down i hope you know that
The tweet proved particularly tasteless, as Daley’s father had actually died of brain cancer a year earlier. The diver wanted to win a medal to honor his father’s memory. The teenager apologized, but then got more aggressive as others (including Olympians) came to Daley’s defense:
@ollyriley shut your dirty little mouth you c--- i'm going to kill you when your back trust me— ЯIᄂΣY JЦПIӨЯ (@Rileyy_69) July 30, 2012
Police arrested the teenager July 28, and he re-emerged on Twitter Tuesday, declaring “I’m f---in’ back.”
It didn’t take long for the hashtag #nbcfail to catch on, as fans and critics took to Twitter to express their displeasure over tape-delays, spoilers and nearly anything else related to the network’s coverage. What’s more, parody accounts such as @NBCDelayed have popped up, tweeting comically delayed breaking news such as:
BREAKING: Underdog Jamaican bobsleigh team loses control and crashes.— NBC Delayed (@NBCDelayed) August 1, 2012
BREAKING: Dewey defeats Truman in landslide.— NBC Delayed (@NBCDelayed) July 30, 2012
BREAKING: American colonists announce independence, King to respond.— NBC Delayed (@NBCDelayed) July 29, 2012