SBD/July 20, 2012/OlympicsPrint All
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt “remains track’s most thrilling performer and its economic engine,” according to Tim Layden of SI. U.S. shot putter Adam Nelson said, “Without Bolt, I supposed we have no sport.” Layden writes the 100m and 200m races at the London Games “will be characterized as having been won or lost by Bolt,” as he is the “barometer by which the sports is measured.” NBC’s Ato Boldon said, “Now he is Ali. The Ali who lost to Frazier and then beat Foreman. He’s going to lose every now and then, but then he’s going to be even bigger because of those losses.” The cost to sign Bolt to run a one-day meet “has been reported at $250,000,” but despite this “astronomic fee, meets clamor for his participation.” Golden Spike Invitational Meet Manager Alfons Juck said, “When you have Usain Bolt, you have a sellout, you have happy sponsors, you have happy TV.” He added, “No other name attracts interest like him. None of the other great athletes of the past -- Carl Lewis, Sergey Bubka -- have been like Bolt.” Welklasse Meet Dir Patrick Magyar said, “He doesn’t make a meet good or bad, he makes it glamorous.” Layden writes the other athletes “know it,” and whether it “helps the sport in general, or just Usain Bolt, is difficult to measure.” Athletes “need sponsorship money to survive.” It is possible that Bolt is “so economically dominant,” that others are “left to fight for his table scraps.” It is also possible that Bolt’s “presence alone is what makes the sport viable and allows others to secure endorsement deals.” From his “fellow athletes, there is little resentment and, moreover, genuine affection” (SI, 7/23 issue).
CASHING IN? RUNNERS WORLD U.K.’s Kerry McCarthy writes Bolt’s “jaw-dropping performances have turned him into one of the most bankable sporting stars of our age.” In response to the suggestion that, in “plastering himself all over European TV screens this spring with endorsements for Visa, Virgin Media and the Jamaica Tourist Board, he will be seen by some as having ‘cashed in’ and lost some of his credibility, Bolt simply shrugs.” Bolt said, “If people want to think that of me, this is fine. But I never try to be cool, I just try to be me. And in all the ads I did I was still being me. Clowning around, having fun. Plus, I’m just doing my job. Athletes earn most of their money through endorsements and that’s just the way it is. The sponsors pay us, we do what they want” (RUNNERSWORLD.co.uk, 7/11).
An “additional 1,200 troops have been put on standby to cover more G4S security shortages during the Games,” according to Sam Masters of the London INDEPENDENT. U.K. Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Thursday that the military “would be placed on 48-hour notice to step in.” Such action could “bring the total number of troops at the Games to more than 17,000” (London INDEPENDENT, 7/20). The GUARDIAN’s Hopkins & Travis noted the U.K. Ministry of Defence is “anticipating that some, if not all, of the 1,200 will be needed at some point.” A source said, “This should be the last call up. It would be hugely embarrassing if we had to go through this again” (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 7/19). In London, James Kirkup notes G4S “has still not been able to tell organisers how many security guards it will provide, forcing ministers to consider a second deployment” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/20). Hunt said, “G4S numbers are rising and we are seeing an improvement in the company’s performance, which is to be welcomed.” He added that putting "more troops on standby was a ‘sensible precaution.’” G4S said that it was “making ‘good progress’ in training, accrediting and deploying people at games venues.” The troop announcement came as U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May admitted that her department "had been warned of a ‘possible temporary shortfall' in G4S security guards as early as June 27" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/20).
GROUNDED: In London, Richard Ford notes airports face disruption "on the eve of the Olympics as thousands of civil servants plan to strike on the peak arrival day for Games visitors” (LONDON TIMES, 7/20). Also in London, Alan Jones noted the Public & Commercial Services Union's “24-hour strike” is a “row over jobs, pay and other issues.” The action will “hit border controls at ports and airports including Heathrow, threatening disruption" Games travel (London INDEPENDENT, 7/19). May said the strike was “shameful.” She added that the government would “put contingency plans in place to help people come through the border as smoothly as possible” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/20).
A ROUGH GO: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Ainsley Thomson wrote the buildup to the Games “remained mired in difficulties” and “beset with problems” (WSJ.com, 7/19). In N.Y., Sarah Lyall writes under the header, “The Olympic Spirit, British Style: When Will This Nightmare End?” Many Londoners “feel they are getting the worst part of the Olympics -- the cost, the hassle, the officials telling them not to do things or go places -- without any of the benefits” (N.Y. TIMES, 7/20). In London, Ben Bryant writes LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe "dismissed" the notion" that a “negative narrative” had built up around the Games. Coe: “I’m talking to people who think they have come to a Games that has delivered in the areas that they need in a way that no Games has delivered before. Everywhere we go the reality of it is people are overwhelmingly very positive about what we are doing” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/20).
LOCOG officials said that London Games ticket-holders “will be 'free to wear the clothing of their choice' inside Games venues,” according to Shiv Malik of the GUARDIAN. LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe previously had said that people "wearing advertising logos of non-Olympic sponsors would be turned away.” Coe said that spectators "would not be able to gain entry wearing a Pepsi T-shirt but that they would "probably" get in wearing Nike trainers.” Coca-Cola is an IOC TOP sponsor, while adidas is a LOCOG partner. A LOCOG spokesperson said that people wearing clothing “with other brands would not be prevented from entering venues” (GUARDIAN, 7/20). LOCOG Communications Chair Jackie Brock-Doyle indicated that Coe "misheard the question" that was asked of him during the recent radio interview (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 7/20).
STARTING A REVOLUTION: The GUARDIAN’s Andy Bull reported a group of U.S. athletes have “launched a ‘barefoot revolution’ against the stringent sponsorship rules being imposed on them” by the USOC. Silver Medal-winning shot putter Adam Nelson launched the protest, which “encourages athletes and fans to Tweet pictures of their bare feet with the tag #SolesForSoul.” Nelson said that he set up the campaign “after receiving phone calls and emails from other athletes who are concerned about the impact of USOC’s rules on their sponsorship incomes.” Nelson “missed out on qualification for the Games, but is a board member of the Track and Field Athletes Association.” He is “contemplating encouraging union members to go barefoot on the podium” (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 7/19).
WHAT'S IN YOUR WALLET? The AP’s Paisley Dodds wrote the Olympics crush “has begun in London -- and so has the scramble for cold, hard cash in the pricey British capital.” Lines are “getting longer at ATMs, visitors are in sticker shock over British prices and some befuddled tourists are wondering what currency to use.” Since Visa holds an “exclusive sponsorship for the London Olympics, people at Olympics venues will either have to use cash, Visa credit or debit cards or go to kiosks where they can use other credit cards to purchase a special Visa prepaid card.” Visa has also “removed 27 ATMs from Olympic venues and replaced them with just eight Visa-only cash machines.” The company said that it “doesn't expect any problems due to its exclusive Olympic sponsorship.” Visa Olympic Head of Olympic Management Matt Kauffman said that “98% of U.K. residents hold either a Visa debit or a Visa credit card, and that 80% of those attending the Olympics will be from the U.K.” (AP, 7/19).
NOT LOVIN' IT: In London, Jacquelin Magnay wrote having paid millions to sponsor the Olympics “for the past 40 years, McDonald's managers might not be delighted with the latest comments” made by Great Britain Head of Sports Science & Research Marco Cardinale. When asked if British athletes would be dining at the world's biggest McDonald's, based at the Olympic Park, he said he would be "very surprised" if they "make the wrong choice" (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 7/19).
ROYAL HEADACHE? The TELEGRAPH's Magnay notes U.K. Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton’s family business, Party Pieces, “has been asked to change parts of their website after an investigation by London 2012 Olympics officials found some problems with the promotion of goods associated with the Games.” It is “believed the company will have to change a page where there is imagery of a Union Flag-covered Olympic torch and a female throwing a javelin under the title ‘Let the Games Begin’” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/20).
USA TODAY’s Kelly Whiteside writes under the header in an above-the-fold front-page piece, “In Our Social Media World, A Debacle Is Just 140 Characters Away, And The Games’ Image Is On The Line.” Under IOC rules, athletes are "encouraged to blog and tweet 'provided that is not for commercial and/or advertising purposes' so they do not conflict with official Olympic sponsors and broadcasters." The USOC "doesn't have a formal social media policy, but it encourages athletes to be thoughtful with their decisions and cites cautionary tales" (USA TODAY, 7/20)....In L.A., Michelle Maltais examined available mobile apps dedicated to the Games. Although Twitter “won’t go into detail on how it plans to highlight Olympics-related tweets, it is expecting huge traffic” (LATIMES.com, 7/19)….USA Cycling will reward gold medalists at the Games with “up to $100,000 in bonus money, creating the richest known Olympics financial program offered by any cycling organization in the world.” The program, called the “London 100K Challenge,” includes “up to $75,000 for silver medalists and up to $50,000 for bronze through funding” from the USOC (AP, 7/19)....Sources indicated that music group Spice Girls “could reform for the first time since 2008 this summer and play at the Olympic Closing Ceremony.” The group “will sing two songs” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/20).