Athletes can whip them out after all?

Madeleine Swain
10 February, 2014
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No, not their rainbow flags. Not if they want to return home with all their limbs and senses still functioning, that is.

But their iPhones. Despite earlier reports, Sochi athletes are perfectly entitled to use the smartphone or tablet of their choice when it comes to recording their festive frolics during any official Winter Olympics functions.

A report in The Guardian refutes the allegations from last week that any use of Apple devices during the Opening Ceremony would require the brand’s logo to be covered up. That report originated from the Swiss team, who had received goodie bags on arrival, including Galaxy Note 3 smartphones. A report in Bluewin (which now appears to have been removed; this link throws up a ‘Sorry! The requested page could not be found’ message), explained that “the gifts came with linked demands”. Being a Swiss website, initial reports about the Swiss team’s claims were diverted to Google translate pages, which are often sources of confusion… and unintentional amusement. Was this what happened this time? Was it purely a story that did a Bill Murray and got lost in translation?

Because now both Samsung and the IOC (International Olympic Committee) are denying such demands were ever made. As Philip Michaels at Macworld points out, the IOC is of course a totally trustworthy organisation (he then provided a link to the Yahoo Sports article alleging that a third of Sochi spending disappeared due to corruption), and suggests we should naturally take it and Samsung at their word.

While Michaels takes his tongue out of his cheek, let’s see what Samsung actually had to say on the matter. Asked about the possible Apple logo cover-up (can we squeeze a ‘gate’ in there somewhere? Sochi Applegate? No, maybe not), the Korea tech company’s spokesperson replied, “Samsung did not request any action of this nature from athletes attending the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. All commercial marketing around the games is overseen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Samsung has not been involved in any decisions relating to branding of products used by athletes at the games.”

So, just a translation problem then? Or mendacious Swiss at work? Surely not?

The Samsung spokesperson then suggested to The Guardian that it approach the IOC for comment. (‘It wasn’t us! But what about them over there? They look shifty.’)

Did the IOC issue the ‘no Apple logos’ directive? “It is not true,” said the IOC’s press office. “Athletes can use any device they wish during the Opening Ceremony. The normal rules apply just as per previous games. The Samsung Note 3 that were distributed [sic] are a gift to the athletes, so they can capture and share their experiences at the games, and the phones also contain important competition and logistical information for competing athletes.” (Our italics.)

Does anyone else interpret that as: ‘Yes, of course, go ahead and take those happy snaps on your iPhone 5s, but we’re terribly afraid that if you do you’ll probably miss your event, because we’ll only be sending the timetables and other ‘logistical information’ to “the official Olympic phone”.’

It’s so hard not to be cynical sometimes, isn’t it?

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