The O[deleted] G[deleted]s Begin!

Hooray! The London 2012 Olympic Games formally open today! Although of course some athletes have already been in action even from Wednesday, mainly the football players.

Let me repeat, though, that this blog is generally not interested, certainly not in the athletics. Attention is more likely to be attracted here by catchy and notable Olympic-related headlines – All of London sells itself to sponsors, is a good example.

That’s the title of the kick-off report for a series that the German journalist Imke Henkel (a female, FYI; her winsome smile you can inspect at the article’s very top if you click through) is undertaking for the German newsmagazine Focus, by heading to London to write an “Olympic Diary.” This first installment is all about the sponsorship madness that seems to have descended upon the city.

Or perhaps even – although naturally the term is grossly over-used – the sponsorship fascism. You might have already heard about that Cafe Olympic – located within sight of the new Olympic Stadium, actually – that has been forced to rename itself “Cafe Lympic” for the duration of the Games. That ain’t the half of it, though; Henkel actually provides a list of words that businesses are henceforth (through 12 August) not allowed to display, which go beyond any variation of the word “Olympic” to include “Summer,” “2012,” and of course “Gold,” “Silver” and “Bronze.” Lilagekleidete Aufpasser – translates as “Purple-clad monitors” – are even now roaming the streets, in London but also all over the UK, ensuring that any violations are reported for prompt sanction by LOCOG, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

Are you considering actually attending any events – you know, like the ones for which you may have bought tickets? That puts you under the direct scrutiny of LOCOG’s minions, so that you better not think about wearing or bringing anything that says “Pepsi,” or even wearing Nike sneakers – no no, Coca-Cola and Adidas are official London 2012 Olympics sponsors, and forbid that! At least that’s the line that LOCOG chairman Lord Coe tried to advance, until public outrage started to grow. He had to modify the official position to one allowing individuals to wear such non-sponsoring brands, but not in groups. What LOCOG is afraid of here is what Henkel calls Angriffs-Werbung (“Attack Advertising”), such as what happened at the 2010 World Cup at South Africa when a whole covey of Dutch women spectators wore to a game the same fetching orange dress that happened to push Bavaria Beer, a brand that certainly had not paid to be any official sponsor. We can’t have any more of that!

In all, this is a forthright, if brief, presentation of the 2012 Olympics sponsorship madness, but Frau Henkel might be slightly intimidated by LOCOG’s purple army herself. For the very first word to her article’s lede is literally “Oympia.” (Check it and see!) Since that begins a sentence that translates to “. . . is overrunning London, and everyone is happy,” it would seem that they really meant to write “Olympia” – or was that forbidden?

(As a bonus article showing how helpful the German press intends to be in playing up these London Olympics, I give you The scars of the Olympic city, in another news-magazine, Stern. That is a photo-feature comparing street-scenes from the riots a year ago to the way they look today.”

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