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London asked not to tweet as tech fails Olympic trials

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By Stewart Mitchell and Reuters

Posted on 30 Jul 2012 at 08:45

The technology behind the Olympics won't be challenging for gold after two system failures disrupted spectators.

Tens of thousands of fans at yesterday's football double-header were left facing long queues and delays after the Visa payment system at Wembley Stadium went down.

The glitch came a day after spectators were asked to avoid sending texts and tweets because congested mobile networks were affecting television coverage because data couldn't get through to commentators.

The Wembley Visa issue meant anyone wanting food or drink at the stadium had to pay by cash, only to be told that many of the cash machine had been removed for the Games.

According to a report from Sky News, Visa - the only payment system allowed at venues due to is status as a sponsor – was down for the duration of the double-header, potentially leaving fans without a way to buy food and drinks.

We are not going to say 'Don't, you can't do it'. It's just - if it's not an urgent, urgent one, please kind of take it easy

"We understand that Wembley's systems failed and therefore they were only accepting cash at the food and beverage kiosks,” a Visa spokesperson told Sky. "This cash only decision was made by Wembley management and not Visa. We are working with the Wembley team to help them fix this as soon as possible."

The cause of the crash is as yet unknown, but will come as an embarrassment to organisers and Visa, which asked for cash machines using the multi-platform Link system to be removed before the Games.

Texting blackout

The fragility of the UK's data networks was revealed when commentators for the men's cycling road race were unable to tell viewers how far the leaders were ahead of the chasing pack because data could not get through from the GPS satellite navigation system travelling with the cyclists.

According to organisers, thousand of people tweeting from along the routes meant the mobile cells were overloaded and unable to relay cyclists' positions back to studios.

"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," a spokesperson for Locog said. "It's just - if it's not an urgent, urgent one, please kind of take it easy."

Other events due to take place on London's roads include the men's and women's marathon and triathlon.

The IOC spokesman said it appeared the problem lay with over subscription on one particular network, and talks had taken place in an attempt to share more of the data burden. "It's a network issue, and it is that which we are working on," he said.

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User comments


The media are relying on public networks for critical information!? You have got to be joking! Someone should be fired for that!

By Ip_stephenmollfb on 30 Jul 2012

Shambles also at Old Trafford

Even when the systems didn't fail at old Trafford on the 26th, the kiosks ran out of warm food and cold drinks half way through the first game, by the time we went to get some snacks at the beginning of the second half, there was only warm drinks, Cardbury's buttons and wine gums available at the kiosks and this was the case throughout the entire England game which ended at 10pm!!! Yet we were not allowed bags big enough to carry snacks, and the promised water re-fills in the stadium never materialised.

By Frostfree on 30 Jul 2012

I wonder if Visa and the organisers will be going to a brewery soon.

By tech3475 on 30 Jul 2012

The only piss up in a brewery they could organise would have to be in Saudi Arabia...

By SwissMac on 30 Jul 2012

Awesome publicity Visa! So by harming consumers by getting rid of LINK machines and the ability to pay by Mastercard (all in the name of sponsorship), then ensuring that your systems fall over, you've successfully advertised to everyone that you don't care about the experience of your potential customers, and you can't be relied on.

Top notch, just absolute top notch...

By Trippynet on 30 Jul 2012


Well messed up by the monopolistic, greedy Olympiad conglomerates.

The finger can not be pointed to any particular government for this. It was the Olympic sponsorship rules and kickbacks.

That will do nicely thank you! (NOT)!!!

By lenmontieth on 30 Jul 2012


No one should rely on the public communications network for critical data such as that. The communications team should be fired, along with the olympic broadcasting team

By scottbob9 on 30 Jul 2012


So Visa, by removing the Link machines, are effectively saying they don't like competition. Now, remind me, what are the Olympic Games all about?

By martindaler on 30 Jul 2012

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