OLYMPICS ORGANIZING COMMITTEE EMBROILED IN CONTROVERSY
LOCOG, the organizing committee for the London Olympics, was being battered today (Thursday) for a series of questionable moves in advance of Friday’s start of the Summer Games. In one, the proprietor of a news shop was ordered to remove Olympic and patriotic bunting and balloons from the front of the shop on the grounds that he was using “Olympic branding” without authorization. Hamdy Shahein told a newspaper in the town of Hamdy that he had purchased the decorations from authorized sellers and had “paid a lot of money for them.” The incident followed a similar one in Weymouth where a butcher was told to remove a display of sausages in the shape of the Olympic rings. In several towns where TV cameras were stationed to cover the Olympic torch ceremony, merchants were told to cover up signs advertising soft drink competitors of Coca-Cola, an official Olympics sponsor. In a letter to the Financial Times, Kirsty Hughes, CEO of Index on Censorship, condemned LOCOG for imposing on London businesses a ban on the use of certain everyday words in combination — for example “games” and “2012″ may not be combined with “gold,” “silver,” “medals,” “sponsor,” or “summer.” Said Hughes: “For better or worse, big international sporting events rely on sponsorship. But none demands the level of censorship and control-freakery that LOCOG has imposed.” Finally, LOCOG today apologized for a gaffe at an early women’s soccer match when the North Korean team was introduced while a TV screen in the stadium displayed the South Korean flag. The team walked off the field and did not return until they were assured that the pregame introductions would be restaged with the proper flag.