To ensure that only the companies that pay millions of dollars to be official Olympic sponsors enjoy the benefits of exposure in Olympic venues, organizers have covered the trademarks of nonsponsors with thousands of little swatches of tape.
In media centers, dormitories and arena bathrooms, pieces of tape cover logos of fire extinguishers, light switches, thermostats, bedroom night tables, soap dispensers and urinals. The Taiden Industrial translation headsets in a large conference room have had their logos covered, as have the American Standard faucets in the bathrooms nearby, and the ThyssenKrupp escalators down the hall.
The International Olympic Committee says that such "brand protection" is essential for the Games to raise the corporate money that keeps them going and growing. The Games get 40% of their revenue from sponsors, with the rest coming from broadcast rights, ticketing and licensing. Sponsors of China's Games, believed to be the most lucrative ever, have contributed some $1.5 billion in cash, goods and services, estimates sports-marketing group Octagon.
The IOC says the brand-protection practices here in Beijing are consistent with procedures at past Olympics. Actual enforcement of IOC sponsorship-protection rules falls mostly to whichever city is hosting the Games, however, and by some indications no host has taken that role more seriously than China. In many cases, even products that don't compete with anything made by official sponsors are having their logos covered.
Ignore That Logo Under the Tape!
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