According to The Hollywood Reporter, Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake has fallen foul of the Olympic branding police after he wore his own (Richard Mille) wristwatch during his silver medal run. 800-meter track hopeful Nick Symmonds is forced to cover up a temporary tattoo on his left arm bearing the Twitter handle of one of his sponsors (Hanson Dodge Creative).
When some members of Team GB gave Dr. Dre and his Beats brand a shout-out for giving them free pairs of headphones that they wore on TV ahead of competition, IOC sanctioned them, telling them to stick to headphones from the official games sponsor Panasonic. Australian swimmer Libby Trickett was sanctioned for retweeting a good luck message from her sponsor Inner Nutrition and IOC forced 1500 meter track silver medal winner Leo Manzano to take down pictures of running shoes and comments about their performance from his Facebook page.
But, Olympic athletes have rebelled against the branding police, lashing out at IOC’s Rule 40, writing under the Twitter hashtags #wedemandchange and #rule40 to criticize the IOC restrictions, which they say hurt amateur athletes. Apparently even while blatantly waving those rules when it comes to the big names in for instance tennis.
And here is a gem off Google+, Mike Elgan bashing IOC with:
The IOC justifies this crackdown by citing Rule 40 of the IOC charter.
You like rules and charters? I’ve got one for you, IOC. It’s called Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which specifies that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Starting out a comment war between ‘nobody is forcing anyone to compete in the Olympics’ and ‘wasn’t there supposed to be a ‘Olympic spirit’ in there, somewhere?’, sort of. And others adding to the story that they (the athletes) are also forbidden to show non state countries flags like the Catalán one. Elgan adding that “This is needlessly poor PR for the IOC with both of those groups (athletes and their personal sponsors), and they should be more careful about picking their battles. I’m sure they have every right to do what they are doing. That doesn’t make it a smart idea.”
My personal view? I dislike the way the Olympics are allowed by media and ourselves to be so much bigger than everything else. It might have worked in the old days, but with today’s short attention-span, they are too far apart to make a sensible base for stable interest and economics, both for participants and arrangers. Pro sports understand this, the Olympics just an interesting sideshow to their own big tournaments. So let’s back up our own big meets, starting with the World Cup and World Championships.