Because of the massive sponsorship dollars attached to the Olympics, the IOC has created all kinds of rules about which and how companies can be represented at the games. One rule, which is getting blowback from athletes themselves is Rule 40. This rules states that athletes may not mention, thank or otherwise promote any brand or company that is not an official Olympic sponsor.
Athletes work with all kinds of companies, many not in the Olympic fold, however. The athletes feel badly because they want to thank these companies who have given them so much support and money over the years to get them to where they are. It’s also a bit of a free speech issue as well. Several athletes have taken to social media to protest the rule, inventing their own hashtag, #wedemandchange. The athletes also argue it creates an unfair advantage for athletes and companies with Olympic ties as there are only so many of those spots available. It’s even more important for American athletes who get most of their financial backing from corporations rather than the state like an athlete from China for example.
This corporate controlled Olympics has gone even farther as Visa took out all the ATM machines in and around London where the Olympics are being held. You can only pay with a Visa card at the Olympics, you cannot even use cash. This, the first so-called cashless Olympics has not always been smooth as payment systems have failed at various events, leaving hungry customers without a way to get food.
I have seen this time and time again. When large corporations get involved with an event and the money get bigger and bigger, things tend to go sour. Those wielding the most money has the most leverage and the current Olympic sponsors are having a major impact on the general communications and marketing at the games. The Olympics are massively expensive and complex to put on and corporations have been involved for years. With the world economy in the tank I ‘m sure the games would not even be possible without the backing of large corporations and their big dollars. And there we are, between a rock and a hard place. Corporations investing millions in the games need to protect their investment but by doing so, unintended consequences will result.