London 2012: BBC Complains About Lack of Timing Data for Olympic Cycling Race

Olympics Cycling 2012 - H

UPDATE: Meanwhile, the London organizing committee is is exploring measures to address empty seats at a number of Olympic events.

LONDON - In the first TV controversy of the London 2012 Summer Olympics, U.K. public broadcaster BBC has registered concerns with the International Olympic Committee's TV production arm about a lack of key timing data during Saturday's men's cycling road race.

The arm, Olympic Broadcasting Services, provides TV pictures to networks around the world.

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With British cycling star Mark Cavendish and his teammates chasing a leadership group Saturday, the company for large periods of time had no information about the gap between the home team and the leaders. That left BBC announcers - on the first day of the Summer Games - at a loss to explain how good a chance the British athletes had to close the gap.

The Guardian said that the BBC blamed OBS, which in turn said there were issues with timing equipment provided by the London Olympics organizing committee known as Locog.

"We have raised our concerns with OBS who have explained that there were GPS problems with the Locog-supplied timing graphics, which resulted in a lack of information for the commentary teams," a BBC spokesman told the Guardian. "A number of tests were run by OBS this morning on parts of the course. We've been assured that everything is being done to try and resolve this ahead of the women's road race."

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The women's race is scheduled for Sunday.

OBS is a unit of the International Olympic Committee. It employs staff from around the world to produce coverage of the 26 Olympic sports. Its services are provided to the host city as part of the city's contract. Before 2008, the host broadcaster was typically from the Olympics host city.

Meanwhile, London 2012 organizers  promised a "full review" of reports of thousands of empty seats at various Olympic venues on the first day of the Games, the Guardian said. 

Despite most Olympic events having sold out a while ago, swimming, gymnastics and volleyball competitions Saturday had several hundred, and in one case more than 1,000, empty seats, the paper said.

The London 2012 organizing committee said most seats seemed to have been reserved for "members of the Olympic family," such as national governing bodies, athletes and International Olympic Committee officials.


The Cabinet Committee met Monday to discuss the Olympic Games. The meeting was chaired by the Prime Minister.

They agreed that it had been a very positive start. The opening ceremony had been widely applauded at home and overseas and the public enthusiasm for the games had been demonstrated by the hundreds of thousands of people lining the roads for the cycle races.

LOCOG updated the meeting on the challenge around empty seating in the accredited areas and set out the measures being taken to address the issue. This will obviously be kept under constant review on a venue by venue basis over the coming days to ensure that as many seats as possible are filled.

Twitter: @georgszalai