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