Lord Coe Sparks London 2012 Sponsorship Row

By Community | July 20, 2012

Lord Sebastian Coe has fueled a sponsorship row by suggesting sports fans may be turned away at venues if they wear non-olympic sponsor brands.

The former Olympic champion said people would not be allowed in the park wearing a Pepsi T-shirt “because Coca Cola are our sponsors”.

But Lord Coe, chairman of organising committee Locog, contradicted himself by saying spectators wearing Nike trainers will “probably” be allowed into venues. Rival sportswear maker adidas is an Olympic “partner”.

However, Locog moved to clarify Lord Coe’s comments and said that “individuals wearing brands is fine”. They have faced criticism for their hardline stance on “brand security”, introduced to safeguard the Olympiad’s corporate deals.

Hundreds of trading standards officers will trawl venues to ensure that only Games’ sponsors and approved businesses are associating themselves with the Olympics.

In an interview with BBC radio Lord Coe was asked if people would be able to go to an Games event in a Pepsi T-shirt.

He said: “No, you probably wouldn’t be walking in with a Pepsi T-shirt because Coca Cola are our sponsors and they put millions of pounds into this project but also millions of pounds into grassroots sport and it is important to protect those sponsors.”

Asked if spectators could get in wearing Nike trainers, he said: “I think you probably could … you probably would be able to walk through with Nike trainers.”

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oakeshott said: “Most people would think it is ridiculous for a child who may only have one pair of trainers to be turned away for wearing the wrong brand. But most importantly Lord Coe needs to know exactly what the situation is.”

Lord Coe said: “We have to protect the sponsor, they in large part pay for the Games. They help us meet legacy targets. When you have big British businesses prepared to invest you have the responsibility to protect them.”

A Locog spokesman said: “Spectators can wear any brand of trainers they want. Individuals wearing brands is fine. If people were to come in a large group with visible branding that is when there could be an issue.”