Censorship subverts Olympic ideals
27 Jul 2012

The censorship and control-freakery imposed by Locog makes a mockery of the idea that the London Olympics are open and inclusive, says Kirsty Hughes

This letter appeared in the Financial Times on 25 July


You argue that Locog has in many ways done “a commendable job” in pulling together the Olympic Games, while suggesting the lack of transparency and oversight of Locog and its failure to control the security fiasco are a “serious blot” on its copybook (“Games and guards”, editorial, July 19).

Perhaps if Locog had paid rather more attention to controlling its Olympic security requirements and rather less to constraining our freedom of expression — in order to defend Olympic sponsors and brands — the mood music as we head toward the games’ opening would be rather more positive.

For better or worse, big international sporting events rely on sponsorship. But none demands the level of censorship and control-freakery that Locog has imposed — and which rather makes a mockery of the idea of the games as an open, inclusive event. Locog has drawn up two lists of everyday words that cannot be used in combination and threatened legal action against businesses. The words “games”, “2012” or for that matter “Twenty twelve” must not be combined with the words “gold”, “silver”, “medals”, “sponsor” or “summer” — among others.

Meanwhile, the Olympics Act passed in 2006 means that our usual right to peaceful protest is also under threat. In one particularly egregious case, police handed out an Asbo to an acknowledgedly peaceful protester in east London for protesting against construction work at Leyton Marsh.

We all contribute to the games, whether as taxpayers, as citizens of the host city and country or as participants and workers. We should be proud to be hosting them as a democracy — not taking on trappings more appropriate to an authoritarian state.

Kirsty Hughes is Chief Executive of Index on Censorship

More on Locog’s Olympic censorship at Index’s Free Speech Blog


Plus Natalie Haynes gets to grips with the rules policing the brand of the London games here

Sport on Trial

And read more on sport and human rights in Index on Censorship magazine’s sports issue

3 responses to “Censorship subverts Olympic ideals”

  1. […] Index on Censorship | July 26th, 2012. […]

  2. […] of words that must not be combined at risk of legal action for breaching the brand/copyright rules. These include not combining the words “games”, “2012″ or “twenty twelve” […]

  3. […] secured an exclusive corporate right to sell fried potatoes. Businesses are not even allowed to combine words as basic as ’2012′ and ‘summer’ in their advertising without express […]

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