London 2012: Olympic Committee Blames BBC Cycling Data Problems on Twitter Use

London Olympics Logo NEW - P 2012

London Olympics Logo NEW - P 2012

A spokesman suggests that Summer Games attendees and viewers avoid non-urgent text messages and tweets.

LONDON - The London 2012 Summer Olympics have been dubbed the first social media Games, but the International Olympic Committee late Sunday said that tweets from sports fans caused data problems for the BBC during a cycling event on Saturday.

An IOC spokesman suggested that fans and attendees of Olympic events avoid non-urgent text messages and tweets to avoid overloading data networks, Reuters reported.

He said that hundreds of thousands of fans  and tweeting while watching the cycling event live caused a network overload.

"Of course, if you want to send something, we are not going to say 'Don't, you can't do it', and we would certainly never prevent people," Reuters quoted the spokesman as saying. "It's just, if it's not an urgent, urgent one, please kind of take it easy."

As reported, the BBC during Saturday's men's cycling road race didn't receive promised data about the time gap between the leaders and a chasing pack. Viewers complained, and the BBC said it had shared the concerns with the IOC's Olympic Broadcasting Service arm, which provides Games coverage to all official broadcasters.

The IOC blamed broadband networks, with Reuters saying that viewers at home made things worse by sharing their anger over the lack of cycling timing information on Twitter. Smartphones and Twitter are key elements of Olympic coverage and dialog this year. U.K. public broadcaster BBC is also making many Olympic events available live on mobile phones.

The IOC spokesman said it appeared that the data problem was caused by one telecom network being overloaded, but he didn't say which telecom company was to blame.

The OBS will now try to better spread the data load across all providers, Reuters said.

Twitter: @georgszalai