Regulations published by Athens 2004 last week dictate that spectators may be refused admission to events if they are carrying food or drinks made by companies that did not see fit to sponsor the games.
Fans seen with a soft drink other than one made by Coca-Cola will be told to leave it at the gates. The same goes for bottles of water as the only one accepted are from Avra –a Greek mineral water owned by Coca-Cola– which paid $60 million US for the privilege of being one of the main sponsors. Officials are under orders not to let in rival brands’ bottles unless the labels are removed. Only products made by official sponsors such as McDonald’s and two Greek dairy firms are to be consumed at Olympic venues.
T-shirts, hats and bags displaying the logos of non-sponsors spotted by the staff will be banned (or will have to be worn inside out) if the wearer is suspected of sporting them in the hope of catching the eyes of television audiences.
Called “clean venue policy,” the rules were drawn up by the Greeks and the International Olympic Committee to protect sponsors from “ambush marketing” – an attempt to advertise items during the games without paying sponsorship fees.
The restrictions target also the stewards and volunteers working at Athens 2004 who have been supplied with uniforms but no shoes.
“We have to provide our own shoes and we were told that we shouldn’t wear trainers with a bright logo from a sports brand which is not an official sponsor like Adidas,” said one.
It is not even possible to buy a ticket to the Olympics using a credit card other than Visa, which paid more than $30 million for its exclusive rights.
Other brands can display small logos if they are sponsoring a national team or an individual athlete.
Kostas Giannis, a Greek sports fan, said: “I don’t see why, after all the money that Greek taxpayers will end up paying to host the games, McDonald’s should dictate what I can eat in my own city.”
From The Halifax Herald.