OLYMPICS ON THE GROUND: It isn’t getting any better

Queues, transport abandonment, dehydration, and Brand Nazis: London 2012’s continuing cacophony of chaos and control.

Occasional roving Slog reporter Dietrich von Ausland was texting in to our hitech buzzy pan galactic newsroom yesterday evening, direct from the London 2012 Olympic village. These are the headlines:

‘…the Coke stand ran out of Fanta, Sprite and water by 9.30 pm….there’s a permanent queue for coffee stretching at least 45 minutes, and no drinks allowed in…these people don’t have a f**king clue about mass catering…the  normal 35 minute overground journey took an hour…Stratford Station blocked solid on the way out…no idea how we’ll get home…’

Given that Dietrich berated me for being negative yesterday, you can imagine how painful it was for him to text that.

Meanwhile, some of you will already be aware of the wifi police, stopping people from using mobile dongles. I’m not sure when Locog bought the rights to all global satellite Net access, but anyway Australian visitors are less than pleased…as the Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday:

‘The London Olympics organising committee, has banned “personal/private wireless access points and 3G hubs” from Olympic venues.Want to create a wireless hotspot on your smartphone so you can get online on your laptop or tablet in between matches? That’s prohibited, as are portable Wi-Fi hotspot devices. The absurdities don’t end there. According to Britain’s Daily Telegraph, Fish and chip stalls have been advised they are not allowed to serve chips on their own without fish as McDonald’s is the official chip maker of the Games. The Independent reported that the ban on chips extended to 800 retailers at the 40 Olympic venues.

Hundreds of uniformed Olympics officers have been patrolling London enforcing the multimillion-dollar marketing deals signed with companies such as Visa, Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Adidas, McDonald’s and BP. Only official sponsors who have paid a certain amount of money are permitted to use Olympic Games trademarks in their advertising. Under laws specifically passed for the London Games, the brand army has rights to enter shops and business premises and bring courts actions and fines up to £20,000. Words such as “Olympic”, “gold”, “silver”, “bronze”, “sponsors”, “summer” and “London” have been banned from business advertisements so as not to give the impression they are connected to the Olympics. Even pubs can’t have signs displaying brands of beer that are not official sponsors….’

Not even George Orwell foresaw this kind of control freakery. One is left wondering whether Bojo-Hunt Enterprises have sold out to Mammon, or simply bought into Monopolism.

Matthew Gain, digital director of public relations agency Edelman, said there was a “fine line that needs to be tread” between the commercial realities and the ability of consumers to enjoy the Games.The Olympics are expensive to run and sponsors provide a chunk of the cash, so they expect that competitors won’t be able to get the same or similar benefits for free.

“However at the same time you don’t want to protect that investment so much that you piss off everyone,” he added. He might also have pointed out that the sponsors have only stumped up 8% of the cost of the games, whereas we – the citizens, the spectators, the consumers, the taxpayers, the ones gridlocked by the Zil Lanes – put up nearly 75%.

The case continues.