“It’s you!” At The Russian Games

“It’s not us – it’s you!” That’s the official Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics line they take on the latest hitch that has arisen, as reporter Jules Seegers reports in the Dutch paper NRC Handelsblad:

The Games have finally started, as you well know, meaning that there are now scheduled athletic events – meaning people get to turn up to see them. The problem is that too many are failing to do so: 92% of event tickets have been sold (that number itself is a separate issue worth discussing), but so far only 81% of those ticket-holders have attended the events they had paid to see.

How can that be? I mean, that’s why they traveled to that God-forsaken sub-tropical town on the shores of the Black Sea in the first place! It’s hard to think of any on-site distractions that could have diverted their attention elsewhere – OK, maybe some might have found themselves locked in their bathrooms, but you have to presume that would have affected only a few.

To Games spokeswomen Alexandra Kosterina, the cause is clear: a “problem with the Russian mentality,” by which she means too many people think they can show up at events just at the last minute! Don’t they realize that there are all sorts of security formalities to take care of before one can be admitted?

First of all, it’s curious how she paints all spectators – Russian and non-Russian – with that “Russian mentality.” (Surely there are some Germans there, too, for example.) Nonetheless, she is probably correct in pinpointing the problem: as Seegers points out here, visitors are checked “several times” before being granted admission, and an accurate awareness of the necessary measures to take in response (analogous to “Be sure to show up to the airport at least three hours before your flight!”) no doubt is only slowly taking hold. Still, this “We don’t have a problem, it’s you that has the problem!” attitude is what is notable to me, even though we’ve already had the occasion to see it here at Sochi. “It’s not us – it’s you!”: There’s your true motto for these Olympic Games!

Olympic Cover-Up

Then there is also this. Remember, we all live in a Brand, Brand World – and Samsung is part of that world when it comes to the Olympic Games, both for the Sochi Winter Games as well as for both Summer and Winter Games in the past.

While it may be true that these benevolent Korean executives believe so strongly in sport, they definitely believe in spreading the Samsung name worldwide. The Olympics offer a great opportunity to do that, and for these Winter Games the company has gone all-out to support its latest phone version, even including one in each “goody bag” handed out to all the participating athletes. (The Mladá fronta dnes article to which that Zpravy tweet links even says the ones they gave the Czech team came in the Czech national colors.)

That’s the good part; the bad part is that Samsung doesn’t want to see at Sochi any phones from competing brands, which did not pay for Olympic rights. Now, they have not been granted dictatorial powers to ban any competing mobile phones from the Games (although, in this Russian context, such a measure is surely not unimagineable). Just what they have been allowed to do is still somewhat unclear, but it seems to have extended to at least making any athletes who do carry iPhones tape over the Apple logos durig the opening ceremonies.

Again, that’s the athletes – and hey, they’re getting new Samsung phones for free! – not any spectators. And the MFD piece further links to an English-language Slashgear article for corroboration.

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