08/10/2012 05:29 EDT | Updated 10/10/2012 05:12 EDT

Watching The Watchdog: "O" Stands For Olympics And Orwellian


Tim Knight writes the regular media column Watching the Watchdog for HuffPost Canada.

Recent news story from London:

"Hundreds of uniformed officials will tour Britain to ensure businesses do not flout advertising regulations by associating themselves too closely with the Olympic Games."

Apparently these officials wear purple caps and tops to identify themselves.

The brand police (lovely cap, darling ... purple so matches your eyes!) can bring "court action against any business breaking the strict rules, with potential punishments including fines up to £20,000 (Can $31,000)."

Here are some of the naughty words and phrases only official Games sponsors (who pay heavy money for the right) are allowed to use:

Olympic. Olympian. Olympiad. Paralympic. Paralympian. Paralympiad. Also their plurals, translations and anything similar to them.

Backing the 2012 Games, Supporting the London Games

LIST A: Games, Two Thousand and Twelve, 2012, Twenty-Twelve

LIST B: London, medals, sponsors, summer, gold, silver, bronze

According to, "the ruling prevents the use of two LIST A words and any word from LIST A and LIST B co-mingled the same sentence without LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) authorization."

Whatever that means.

One bloody-minded shopkeeper got around the rules by advertising "Lodnon 2102 Oimplycs." The Brits, who love dissing authority, flocked to buy his stuff.

Of course, the athletes themselves get not a penny from those words that have to be protected so very rigorously because they make so very much money so very easily for the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The young men and women who sweat and strain and live and die in the arena while IOC members watch and sip champagne have to rely on negotiating nothing but pittances from their national sports bodies.

Meanwhile, the IOC keeps just under 10 per cent of the many billions Olympic advertising (come on down, chief sponsors Coca-Cola and McDonald's, those paragons of healthy living) raises for "operational and administrative costs". As I've written before, that eight per cent is enough to treat its 105 self-elected members to mind-boggling luxury and privilege. And, as history records, splendid opportunities for corruption and personal enrichment.

The highly respected international sports organization Play the Game agrees. It calls the IOC "an undemocratic secretly elected group of ultra-elite men and ... a few token athletes." Then it gets nasty. "Most of these elites have zero work experience, zero athletic experience, and little if any sports experience."

And these are the people whose sordid profits Her Britannic Majesty's government protects by sending purple police to prowl highways and byways and track down and punish insolent offenders?

Ye gads, is there no end to the massive abuse of power and privilege that is the Olympics?

If it were profits for the athletes and not the Lords of the Rings H.M.'s government is protecting, I'd be all in favour. If Coca-Cola and McDonald's decide to sponsor athletes instead of princes and millionaires the world would be a far, far better place.

But that's not going to happen. Savage capitalism reigns and shows every sign of destroying our battered democracies within even my lifetime. Certainly there's no sign of anyone doing anything to rescue those democracies.

Meantime, the least the rest of us can do for the athletes is fight some of the more ridiculous rules surrounding their Games.

To that end, I ask any reader who cares about these things and really, really wants to piss off the grandees of the IOC and British government to copy this column (or write an equivalent) and publish it all over Britain.


My name is Tim Knight, I write the regular media column Watching the Watchdog for HuffPost Canada, and I'm seeking a job that actually pays money.

Both my landlord and my bank manager would be grateful if that should come about.

So why should you employ me?

Among my qualifications are my strong support for the Olympics. In fact Olympic, Olympian, Olympiad, Paralympic, Paralympian and Paralympiad are among my very favourite words and causes. Also their plurals (Olympians etc.), translations (Olympien etc.) and anything similar to them.

I strongly back and favour the 2012 Games also known as the London Games.

I write this in two thousand and twelve, also known as 2012 and twenty-twelve.

If I were in London, if it would please any prospective employer, I would look for medals, sponsors, summer, gold, silver and bronze.

I know this isn't mentioned in the list of banned naughty words but, after watching the Games, I fully expect to be faster, higher and stronger. Particularly higher.

I have every reason to believe that if the International Olympic Organizing Committee (IOC) had any ethics or morals it would support my campaign.


Am still working on the explanation of why CTV runs so many heats and features in its nightly prime time Olympic coverage when it could be showing all sorts of world-class athletes in their primes instead. Apologies again.