With still a couple of weeks to go until the Olympic Games in London, more and more people are getting really frustrated with how the organizers are effectively killing most social components of what could have been the first “social games.”
The days where a bunch of naked men would do some heroic, manly and very muscular things for the honor of winning are long, long gone. Sky Sports estimates the true cost of organizing the event on the upside of 30 billion Euro. A smack of money for a sport event that will turn the City of Big Ben into an armed fortress, guarded by surface-to-air missiles, long distance acoustic weaponry, a Royal Navy battleship, 13,000 soldiers patrolling the city and small armies of foreign security service personnel (the FBI alone is sending more than 500 agents).
As organizer LOCOG states on its website: “Organising the Games is a huge challenge. With 26 Olympic Sports and 20 Paralympic Sports, 14,700 athletes, 21,000 media and 10.8 million ticket-holders, it is the equivalent of staging 46 World Championships simultaneously.”
The organization is also hammering home a very severe fist on what it perceives as its right to protect its assets. It lobbied and passed the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act, that offers a draconian level of protection to the Games (and –more importantly- the sponsors) that goes well beyond any existing copyright law and that positions all offenders as downright criminals.
Not only will brand police be taping all over all logos and signs in London that might be seen by the organizers as threatening to their commercial interests (even announcing that people can watch The Games inside a restaurant, pub or hotel will be frowned upon), but athletes and visitors will be seriously limited to what they can do or say on the social networks, if they can use these networks at all.
Twitter already announced a ban on use of all games related hashtags (like #games2012) that remotely even smells commercial, and the rules on what can be uploaded or tweeted during the games beggars all believe. All so-called non-authorized association is banned. Technically, someone tweeting he saw a nice Dior outfit at the London Games is up for a lawsuit.
Longtime it was believed that these rules would apply only on the (big) brands that could try to sneak in marketing guerrilla activities on the expense of the global event without paying. But it looks that no organization or person is safe.
A satiric organization called Space Hijackers that labeled themselves as the “official protesters of the London 2012 Olympic Games” was (temporarily) suspended by Twitter on the spot on Locog’s demand. The crime? Using the Olympic Logo.
Although I do believe in protecting everyone’s commercial and intellectual rights, it saddens me to see that too often the legislation that is put into place to enforce these rights is abused to limit other rights I fervently believe in: freedom of speech, freedom of satire, freedom of disagreeing and freedom of sharing personal pictures on a social network.
When the social component around an event that will have an impact on over a billion people for close to a month is killed, all that’s left is a sad, expensive, commercial circus.
I hope I am wrong.
(I would have loved using the Ol*mp*c Rings here, but opted for a 150 year old drawing of Olympos. Just to be on the safe side )