Once every four years, nations of the world converge on a single city to celebrate humanity’s sporting extravaganza – the Olympics, and you can be sure that the sea of humanity there will be busy trying to cover anything and everything about the event, and to share it with the rest of the world. Twitter is one medium of choice, but it seems that fans of the Olympics in London were advised to shelve them non-urgent text messages and tweets during events, as not doing so results in the overloading of data networks which will inadvertently affect TV coverage. A good example of this would be Saturday’s men’s cycling road race, where commentators had trouble informing viewers just how far the leaders were ahead of the chasing pack simply because of a technical limitation, as data was unable to get through from the GPS satellite navigation system which was travelling with the cyclists.
It was a vicious cycle, as British viewers were annoyed by the apparent lack of information, and further clogged up the information arteries by venting their frustration and anger on Twitter. An International Olympic Committee spokesman advised, “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. It’s just – if it’s not an urgent, urgent one, please kind of take it easy.” Hopefully future Olympics will see the mobile service providers have a backup plan for the deluge of users.