Lord Coe yesterday in the Olympic Park control room
Saturday July 21,2012
WEARING a Pepsi T-shirt could get you banned from the Olympics, London 2012 chief Lord Coe suggested yesterday, sparking anger and confusion over the exclusivity rights of official sponsors of the Games.
The peer insisted people would not be allowed into the Olympic Park if they were wearing a Pepsi T-shirt “because Coca-Cola are our sponsors”.
But he then added to the muddle by saying that ticket holders would “probably” get into the venue wearing Nike trainers even though Adidas is another key sponsor.
And later Games organisers Locog contradicted their own chairman’s claim. A source said Lord Coe may have got mixed up over differing rules for spectators and those working and volunteering at the Games.
Lord Coe’s blunder came as he appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme and hit out at the negativity surrounding the build-up to the Olympics following concerns over security, transport and strict sponsorship rules.
In an occasionally testy interview, Lord Coe, who as Sebastian Coe was an Olympic champion, defended organisers from claims there had been a heavy-handed approach to protecting sponsors’ rights.
It is important to protect those sponsors
Presenter Evan Davis challenged the Olympics supremo on whether he would be allowed to turn up to an event in a Pepsi T-shirt.
Pepsi, itself a huge international brand whose logo has been seen on T-shirts worn by stars like US actress Mila Kunis, 28, is a deadly rival of Coca-Cola.
Lord Coe, 55, told Davis: “No, you probably wouldn’t be walking in with a Pepsi T-shirt because Coca-Cola are our sponsors and they have put millions of pounds into this project but also millions of pounds into grassroots sport. It is important to protect those sponsors.”
Asked next whether he could wear Nike trainers, Lord Coe said: “I think you probably could...”
Pressed to give a definite answer, the peer told Davis: “Let’s put some reality in this. You probably would be able to walk through with Nike trainers. Does that satisfy you?” He added: “Keep going, Evan, we’ll get there in the end.”
Critics later pointed out on internet sites that Lord Coe was a long standing special adviser to Nike.
The peer justified sponsor exclusivity saying : “We had to raise through the organising committee a mountainous amount of money from the private sector.
“The organising committee pretty much raises all of its money through that area and we do it through sponsorship and we do it through broadcasting rights.
“We have to protect the rights of the sponsor.”
Strict rules have been put in place to prevent so-called “ambush marketing” by rival brands where firms pay fans to turn up en masse in their branded clothing.
But after Lord Coe’s interview Locog desperately sought to clear up the issue, insisting individual sports fans would not be turned away for wearing clothing emblazoned with branding of official sponsors’ rivals.
It said in a statement: “Any individual coming into our venues can wear any item of clothing, branded or otherwise.
“The only issue is if large groups come in together wearing clearly visible branding/marketing.”
Meanwhile in another bizarre case taken up by the Olympic “brand police”, Richard Micallef, 42, of Windsor, Berks, has been warned about a window display poster because it features special issue Royal Mail Olympic stamps which show the London 2012 logo.
The hairdresser said trading standards officers warned him if he did not take down the display they would intervene and that he risked arrest if he resisted.
Mr Micallef’s Artwork Hair Salon is three miles from Dorney Lake, venue for Olympic rowing and kayaking events.
“It is ridiculous,” he said yesterday as he vowed defiance. “We ought to be celebrating the Olympics not obstructing people.” A Locog spokeswoman said they were unable to comment.
In a more serious incident, around 10,000 fake Olympic flags have been seized at Heathrow airport. The flags, displaying the Olympic rings, were sent from China and were due to be delivered to an importer in Norwood, south London. The consignment, worth around £100,000, will now be destroyed.
Olympic organisers have paid £8,500 for 50,000 worms to dispose of dog mess during the games, it has been revealed. Spectators are not allowed to take dogs to Olympic events but working dogs, including police sniffer dogs and guard dogs, will be present and during the Paralympic Games many blind competitors will bring their guide dogs.