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Twitter blamed for BBC Olympic cycling coverage issues

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Olympic officials have blamed disruptions to television coverage of the cycling road races on spectators using Twitter.

At the weekend, the BBC was forced to apologise after viewers were left without information on timing and the positions of the competitors after electronic updates failed to reach the commentators.

The problems, which hit both the men's and women's races, resulted in commentator Chris Boardman having to use his watch to estimate the timings of the cyclists.

After the BBC pointed the finger at the Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS), the International Olympic Committee responded by claiming that it was actually fans posting updates on Twitter while watching the race that caused the problems.

The IOC said that the spike of Twitter messages had interfered with the transmission of race information, which is sent to organisers by GPS transmitters in the competitors' bikes.

"From my understanding, one network was oversubscribed, and OBS are trying to spread the load to other providers," IOC communications director Mark Adams told The Guardian.

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

Many viewers took to Twitter to express their disappointment over the road race, with one calling the coverage "embarrassingly bad" and another saying it was "absolutely appalling... no time checks and misidentified riders".

But a spokesperson for London 2012 organiser Locog responded: "There are fixed timing points at the start and finish line, as well as one at Box Hill which Locog provides. These worked well and the result and timing of the race are not in doubt."

BBC presenters Jake Humphrey and Gary Lineker also apologised for background noise affecting the audio during the cycling coverage, along with issues relating to the camera work.

"This is the Olympics," said Lineker. "The coverage is from a pool of broadcasters across the world. I'm afraid that's how it is regardless of who hosts."

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