Team Zimbabwe touch down at Gatwick today in anticipation of “the greatest show on earth” in twelve days time. Led by swimming sensation Kirsty Coventry as she spearheads the nation’s Olympics medal hunt with a small contingent of seven fine athletes including marathon runners, rowers and a triathlete.
But as the excitement mounts, a misguided crackdown to protect sponsors’ exclusive rights has sparked a feverous debate and the branding police are taking
I’ve compiled a handy crib sheet of common mistakes Team Kirsty and our Zim ensemble of flag flying supporters should avoid. The ‘I’ll be with you just now’ excuse will not leave the starting blocks on this occasion. First off, get your cameras at the ready during those “There may be delays on the Jubilee line” moments, as it’s the last time you’ll need them.
On entering the magnificent Olympic village athletes may not tweet photos of themselves with products that aren’t official sponsors. You may not upload any videos for family and fans back home taken inside Olympic venues. You may however tweet what you eat, just as long as your updates don’t get anywhere near the organisation’s intellectual property rights.
If McDonald’s is not to your taste, tough luck. Firing up the braai trackside with piri-piri ‘jongwe’ and mouth-watering ‘boeres’ may be deemed more than a tad culturally insensitive to sponsors. Brazen security guards will be under orders to confiscate restricted items in breach of Olympic rules.
Breaking big-brother rules will be a criminal offence. This is to protect the interests of official sponsors who have paid upwards of £60 million to determine what we should eat and whether it should be served up with chips. These rules are in addition to the rigid media and digital restrictions on using the Olympic logo and various associated words that imply endorsement or affiliation.
It is also worth noting, athletes may not marry while on British soil during the Games. However, LOCOG is providing 150,000 condoms in the Olympic village. A word to the wise for any Bata “takkie” wearing Olympian, the advertising police have the right to use “reasonable force” to remove potential unauthorised advertising. Violators can be arrested and fined up to £20,000.
It doesn’t stop with athletes either. Fans should be aware, you are not permitted to bring floppy hats, vuvuzelas, strobe lights or gawd forbid, bottled water into the sports grounds.
Some might say these stringent restrictions are the work of a heartless Medusa that has shunted London 2012 off to the icy depths of smiling corporate fascism. The Olympic flame that reaches the tax haven of Jersey today was initially a way of glorifying Hitler’s regime. You don’t say!
But the boo-hurrah ratio is firmly in favour of those who see the Olympics as a once in a lifetime opportunity over those who protest it is a monumental waste of taxpayer’s money. Whatever your view, I’ll be skipping in tune to the beat down Olympic Street.
And a final word to my fellow Zimbabweans as I wish you every success for a victorious Olympics. You may all be ‘faster, higher, stronger’ than me, but I am buoyant. And available if required.