The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games have been referred to as the “People’s Games,” the “Excessive Tech Games” and the “Inexperienced Video games,” but they might be more aptly described because the Industrial Video games.
Commercialism is overrunning the Olympics. It’s undermining the professed ideals of the Olympic Games, and subverting the Olympics’ veneration of sport with omnipresent industrial messaging and branding.
The Olympics have auctioned off nearly every side of the Video games to the best bidder. Along with multimillion-greenback sponsorship deals between the Worldwide Olympic Committee and international companies, smaller firms are paying for designations from “official dwelling and industrial flooring provider” to the “frozen dumplings unique provider” of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Video games.
Corporate sponsors are showering cash on each tier of the Olympic organizational committees: the International Olympic Committee, the Beijing Organizing Committee of the Olympic Video games (BOCOG) and the International Federations governing each particular person sport, to every country’s Nationwide Organizing Committees. Companies are sponsoring many Olympic groups and national governing our bodies for explicit sports activities — together with just about each nationwide governing physique within the United States — and particular person athletes themselves.
The scope of commercialism at the Olympics and the implications of commercialization are detailed in “The Business Video games,” a brand new report from Multinational Monitor journal and Business Alert (each of which I am related to).
To its credit, the Olympics do prohibit promoting in sports activities stadiums or other venues. The Olympics also prohibit ads on uniforms (aside from uniform maker logos).
All over the place else, Olympic spectators, viewers and athletes, and the residents of Beijing should count on to be overwhelmed with Olympics-related advertising.
A file 63 companies have become sponsors or companions of the Beijing Olympics, and Olympics-associated advertising in China alone may reach $four billion to $6 billion this year, in response to CSM, a Beijing advertising analysis agency.
The Olympic Partners (Top) program, run and managed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 1985, contains 12 firms for the Beijing Olympics. These 12 corporations — among them, Coca-Cola, GE, Johnson & Johnson, Lenovo, Panasonic and Visa — have paid $866 million to the International Olympic Committee.
The U.S. Olympic system is awash in company sponsor money. Well over 100 firms are sponsoring the U.S. Olympic Committee or U.S. nationwide teams.
Besides celebrating sport, there may be an official ideology of the Olympics, called “Olympism.” It goals to advertise a pure blend of sport, culture and education.
Sports activities, after all, stay at the middle of the Olympics, but commercialism has overwhelmed whatever different values the Olympics hope to embody. The overwhelming cultural influence at the Olympics is now industrial culture; and the overwhelming informational message is: buy, purchase, purchase.
Commercial relations interfere with proper functioning of the Olympics. In not less than one notable case, industrial entanglements have called into question the integrity of a nationwide sports activities governing physique. A lawsuit and accusations around the activities of USA Swimming and the national team coach — each sponsored by swimwear maker Speedo — cost Speedo, the nationwide workforce and the coach with antitrust violations. The lawsuit, filed by Tyr, a Speedo competitor, alleges the coach has trumpeted the benefits of LZR Racer, a new, excessive-profile Speedo suit, because of his monetary ties to the corporate. Tyr says its Tracer Rise swimsuit, launched weeks earlier than the LZR Racer, is comparable to the Speedo product.
The Olympic race for company sponsors has additionally put the Olympics in unhealthy — and sometimes fairly unpleasant — company.
* The International Olympic Committee will not companion with arduous liquor firms, however the IOC tolerates sponsorships by beer and wine firms. Anheuser-Busch says it is a sponsor of 25 nationwide Olympic Committees, together with these of China, Japan, Great Britain and the United States. A tequila maker, Jose Cuervo, is a sponsor of the U.S. Soccer Federation.
* However the fundamental rules of “Olympism,” which have fun healthful living, two of the 12 Olympic High sponsors run companies centered across the gross sales of unhealthy meals: Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. Snickers, the sweet bar made by Mars, is an official BOCOG provider. Hershey’s is a sponsor of the USOC. Coca-Cola is a sponsor of FIFA, the international soccer federation. McDonald’s and Sprite are sponsors of USA Basketball. McDonald’s and Sierra Mist are sponsors of the U.S. Soccer Federation. Coca-Cola is a sponsor of USA Softball. Hershey’s is a sponsor of USA Observe & Field.
* Lots of the sports apparel and gear makers partnered with the Olympics and official Olympic our bodies — among them Adidas, Nike and Speedo — source their products from sweatshop factories. In a really disturbing improvement simply earlier than the start of the Olympics, Adidas reportedly introduced it was transferring large quantities of its production out of China because wages set by the federal government have been “too excessive” (!).
* At the very least two major Olympic companions, the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Sinopec, have been linked to gross human rights violations in Sudan. Each firms are sponsors of the Beijing Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games.
There may be no doubt that the horse is out of the barn on Olympic sponsorships, and the world is unlikely to see a industrial-free Games anytime quickly.
Nonetheless, the most egregious issues with the Olympics’ pervasive sponsorship preparations can and ought to be addressed.
The IOC, Nationwide Olympic Committees, and international and nationwide sports governing bodies can and may scale back the number of corporate sponsorships.
They will and may develop safeguards to make sure apparel and equipment sponsorships don’t compromise sports activities governing our bodies’ selections. Coaches of nationwide teams should be prohibited from serving as paid spokespeople or consultants for apparel and equipment makers.
They will and will refuse to just accept sponsorships from any alcohol firm, including beer and wine firms. This advice does not mirror a prohibitionist impulse. It merely extends the insight in the present IOC ban on arduous liquor sponsorships: promoting more alcohol consumption is unhealthful, and inappropriate for an event with enormous enchantment to youngsters.
They can and should finish partnerships and sponsorship arrangements with junk meals, soda and fast food corporations. These companies’ operations are incompatible with Olympic ideals of selling fitness and healthful dwelling, and the companies use the association with the Olympics to remove among the tarnish of their unhealthy products.
They will and should insist that official, sponsoring apparel and tools makers disclose where their products are manufactured, and be sure that their merchandise are manufactured in a fashion that respects core labor standards.
They’ll and may refuse to enter into sponsorship preparations with companies connected to gross human rights abuses. This is a straightforward ethical normal, and one required by the Olympic dedication to display “respect for common elementary ethical principles.”
Will the IOC and different committees transfer in these directions? They refused to respond to repeated requests for remark. It may be, nevertheless, that will probably be the company sector driving reduced commercialization of the Olympics.