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The Almighty Buck The Internet The Media

Olympians Banned From Blogging 494

nodwick writes "CNN reports that in a bid to protect its lucrative media contracts, the IOC is barring competitors, coaches, and support personnel from writing firsthand accounts of their Olympic experience, on the web or in print, for the duration of the Games. Nor are they allowed to ever post photographs or movies that they've taken, including media of themselves, even after the Games are finished. They've threatened to disqualify anyone that violates their restrictions and sue them for monetary damages. Looks like an effort to clamp down on grassroots, word-of-mouth publicity for the Olympics -- good thing they're not having any problems selling tickets anyways, eh?"
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Olympians Banned From Blogging

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  • The thing is (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rkz ( 667993 ) * on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:00PM (#10028569) Homepage Journal
    a lot of bloggers work for large companies, attened events or whatever but never give out personally identifying information.

    Myself, I talk about work all the time but never use my real name or the company I work for. If you were clever you could work it out but - the company could never pin it on me. Anyway whos going to enforce this anyway
  • What Idiots (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:00PM (#10028570)
    Why on earth would you want to prevent these people from telling there stories? I know that some of the challenges they go through to get there and during the games, would be well worth sharing with others. Guess the Games have become about money too now.
    • Re:What Idiots (Score:2, Insightful)

      by adrianbaugh ( 696007 )
      > Guess the Games have become about money too now.

      Welcome to the 21st century. In other news, there's this marvellous new invention called electricity, and you may be interested in some kind of election campaign going on.
    • Re:What Idiots (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sketerpot ( 454020 ) <sketerpot@@@gmail...com> on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:19PM (#10028735)
      Guess the Games have become about money too now.

      A small university in Nebraska held an event called the Rat Olympics [nebrwesleyan.edu], but the Olympics Committee apparently owns a trademark on the name of an ancient contest, and threatened to sue. There was no sense behind it, since the Rat Olympics was just a little event held by the Phychology department, but apparently the Olympics people are determined to prove to everyone that they sold their consciences.

      • Re:What Idiots (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Forbman ( 794277 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:37PM (#10028886)
        Although not seen this year, really, whenever the Olympics are held in a US city, there are lots of stories about how lots of companies with "olympic" in their names are chased down by the USOC/IOC.

        Sure, some of it is trying to catch the coattails. But going after a greek restaurant named "Olympic Cafe", which maybe has a stylized discus or javelin thrower or greek warrior head on it?

        Look at all the guff they've thrown at the Special Olympics, the Paralympic Games, etc. in the past.

        The IOC/USOC/media companies are so worried about "protecting" their investments that they are pissing on any sort of grassroots or whatever about it.

        I am enjoying watching some of the coverage, but because the US coverage is SOOO overly American-focused, it's disappointing. It gets worse every 2 years now, with Bob Costas inching slowly downward each time with his stupid, dismissive remarks. I like Bob Costas, in the right domain. NBC might as well have Bill Walton or Marv Albert doing the same thing as Bob. Jim Lampley (of course, he got started when ABC used to do it...) would be 100x better than Bob Costas in that role.

        Oh well. For those of you that can get non-NBC coverage of the Games, you're lucky!

      • Re:What Idiots (Score:5, Interesting)

        by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @07:18PM (#10029169) Homepage
        A small university in Nebraska held an event called the Rat Olympics, but the Olympics Committee apparently owns a trademark on the name of an ancient contest, and threatened to sue

        That's why the Gay Games are not the Gay Olympics. It is particularly silly in that case, considering that the original Olympics consisted of naked athletes performing for horny male spectators.

      • Re:What Idiots (Score:5, Interesting)

        by compwizrd ( 166184 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @07:27PM (#10029221)
        Back in about 1988 or so, they went after "Olympics of the Mind", who had to change their name to Odyssey of the Mind.
        • Re:What Idiots (Score:4, Interesting)

          by bfields ( 66644 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @08:03PM (#10029411) Homepage
          Back in about 1988 or so, they went after "Olympics of the Mind", who had to change their name to Odyssey of the Mind.

          Yeah, I remember that. Completely disgusting--to one the one hand attempt to claim a 2000-plus-year-old heritage and a shared world experience, and on the other hand to claim that it's all your own private property.

          Though I wonder whether anyone's ever actually fought them on this, or whether they're all just giving in when they get the first cease-and-desist letter. Does anyone know of any actual cases?

          --Bruce Fields

          • Cases and so on ... (Score:4, Informative)

            by bezuwork's friend ( 589226 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @10:22PM (#10030109)
            A little late, but I searched for the root olympic in the same paragraph as trademark in WestLaw and came up with 803 cases (federal and state/commonwealth).

            Look though at 36 USC 220506 [house.gov] or here at Cornell [cornell.edu] - this statute gives certain exclusive word rights to the US Olympic Committee for various terms including Olympics, Olympiad, and among other things Pan-American. See (a)(4). Not only Olympics et al. but Pan-American? How outrageous is that?

            There are however some exceptions in subsection (d) for prior use and limited other uses.

      • The university has an entire department of Phychology? Seems like they should be having the algae olympics then, no?
      • Re:What Idiots (Score:4, Interesting)

        by antiMStroll ( 664213 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @09:08PM (#10029720)
        The radio station serving Whistler BC, home of the next Winter Olympic games, isnt allowed to use the term '2010' in any sense that makes reference to the event other than in news reports. And some here joked that the current IP madness would result in corporate control of numbers and letters.
    • Re:What Idiots (Score:3, Interesting)

      by frdmfghtr ( 603968 )
      I wonder if the IOC will ban the use of cellphones by participants at the 2006 Winter Olympics(tm)...

      Pretty sad, really.
    • They ain't been about peace. EVER. The ancient greeks banned anyone of lesser race or sex (lesser by greek standards). In sparta, part of greece women had far more rights, not what we would considere equal but far far superior to anything women anywhere would have for millenia to come, and they performed sports. Not during the olympics however. Just saw a docu on it and a spartan women owning a winning horse team was not even allowed to see her team win.

      The modern games have never been anything else but a

      • Peace through sports? Not until we get rid of the sporters and those who measure the worth of their country through beating other countries.

        Commmon wisdom says that sport is not meant to bring about peace but to be a more peaceful replacement for all out war.
        • I doubt that land disputes will be settled by a sporting event.

          I hate to say it, but war has no "replacement". Conflict is natural and necessary to any society. War is just the extreme form of a conflict.

          After all most negotiations and peace treaties are backed up by the threat of war in some way. And it's dangerous when that threat becomes idle.
    • Speaking of idiots (Score:5, Informative)

      by sempf ( 214908 ) * on Friday August 20, 2004 @07:17PM (#10029163) Homepage Journal
      RTFA.

      "An exception is if an athlete has a personal Web site that they did not set up specifically for the Games."

    • Re:What Idiots (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jburroug ( 45317 ) <slashdot AT acerbic DOT org> on Friday August 20, 2004 @07:51PM (#10029356) Homepage Journal
      Because if they allowed the Olympians to share their personal stories directly with their fans online like this then NBC woudln't have any fresh material for the fluff pieces they use as filler when non-U.S. athletes are competing.

      Think about it, that would deprive NBC of like, half it's Olympic broadcast content.
    • Re:What Idiots (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Writer ( 746272 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @07:57PM (#10029387)

      Guess the Games have become about money too now.

      They are also about the orgy that is the Olympic Village [scotsman.com].

    • Re:What Idiots (Score:5, Informative)

      by ConceptJunkie ( 24823 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @08:09PM (#10029444) Homepage Journal
      Because the Olympic Committee are a bunch of money-grubbing slime bags who waant to maintain a monopoly on distributing media of this so-called non-professional competition.

      The Olympics have become too bogged down in corruption and conspiracy between committee members on the take, crooked judges and athelete on drugs. You know, I just can't care any more.

    • Blood Suckers (Score:5, Informative)

      by Saeed al-Sahaf ( 665390 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @08:25PM (#10029514) Homepage
      I live in Washington State (USA). Here we have the state capital of Olympia, Olympic mountain range, and not to mention America's finest piss water, Olympia Beer. A few years back, the Olympic Committee sued several businesses in Olympia and around the Olympic mountains for using "Olympia" in their name. I can only suspect that Miller Brewing, which owns Olympia Beer, paid them off, but the rest went to court and more or less lost.
      • Re:Blood Suckers (Score:4, Interesting)

        by thanasakis ( 225405 ) on Saturday August 21, 2004 @10:21AM (#10032328)
        Here in Greece we have shorts of stuff named Olympi-something all over the place. Mount Olympus, Olympic hotel, Olympic airways and so on. At least here, it would appear utterly insane to try to force someone not use that name. Hell, I personally know of many girls named "Olympia".

        What sort of stupidity is this? Surely they can't own the damn name since they haven't invented it in the first place.
    • Re:What Idiots (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @08:27PM (#10029523)
      Guess the Games have become about money too now.

      Nah. The Olympics have become about control . The people running them have this terribly simplistic and fairly out of date belief that the more control they exercise over information about the Olympics, the more money they will make.

      I think most everyone here knows what that approach leads to -- nepotism, corruption, stagnation and ultimately a slow rot into dismal irrelevance. The slack ticket sales are just one aspect of that retreat from glory.

      Short-term they may make more money, but in the process they are killing the goose that laid the golden egg. No amount of corporatized hype can sell people (or disuade them) on a product like word of mouth. The net is the ultimate mouth. If they don't want to strangle themselves to death, they need to wake up and realize that they need to cultivate the net's communications about the good stuff at the Olympics. Instead, all we get is stories about what a bunch of incompetent, corrupt political bastards are running the organization.

      Hey NBC -- I had little interest in the Olympics this time around, your only hope that I would have watched them would be an enticing, personal story that convinced me to follow-up. No, corporate-sanctified and sanitized fluffy news-bite is going to cut it, and now that your business partner has killed any other method for the news to get out, I'll probably never get that chance to hear that compelling story that would make me care. You should ask for a refund from the IOC.
    • Re:What Idiots (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stephanruby ( 542433 )
      "Why on earth would you want to prevent these people from telling their stories?"

      Because the Bush reelection campaign paid good money to use clips from the Iraqi and Afghani athletes in its television commercials and it would be embarassing if those same athletes continued speaking out against Bush. [bbc.co.uk]

  • Hey (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    At least they can't ban them from thinking about their hardships. Lucky Olympians.
  • But it's OK (Score:4, Funny)

    by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) ( 613870 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:01PM (#10028573) Journal
    The IOC are a non-profit organization so they can't be doing this for evil reasons.
    • Re:But it's OK (Score:5, Interesting)

      by racermd ( 314140 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:51PM (#10028994)
      I don't know why this is modded as "Funny", but what the heck...

      Some other interesting tidbits to note:

      The IOC (AFAIK) isn't based in any one country, so where would the lawsuits take place?
      Under what laws would competitors be held liable?
      How would this be any different than the average attendee posting results on *their* blog? How would they know? Does the IOC even care?

      I'm sure the IOC would be able to prevent most video and still cameras from entering the events with a non-media attendee, but they can't stop them from remembering what went on and reporting about it verbally.

      I found it very sneaky that NBC has full broadcast rights to the games in the USA, and has, with the cooperation of the IOC and other online media outlets, beaten back the "official" real-time online broadcasts from entering our borders. Methinks that NBC might have something to do with this new action by the IOC.

      Just a hunch, though.
  • *sigh* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hot_Karls_bad_cavern ( 759797 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:01PM (#10028574) Journal
    "....that in a bid to protect its lucrative media contracts, the IOC is barring..."

    ...and i stopped reading. i'm not going to rant about the legacy of the games or this and that...i'm just going to say: keep 'em, keep the money, keep your coverage, keep the contracts and consider me disgusted.
    • Re:*sigh* (Score:5, Insightful)

      by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:06PM (#10028634)
      You mean you aren't impressed with the coverage? I am. I haven't seen anything other than swimming, gymnastics, or beach volleyball. Isn't that all that's on the Olympics anyway?

      Now for my rant about a specific Olympian and the media's quest to make the rest of us idolize him. Mind you, I was a swimmer (not at the international level though), and I always wanted to see more coverage of swimming. Problem with this year is the over-hype of that immature little prick that makes entirely too much money.

      So we have a 19 year old that set his first cocky record at 15 years and 9 months (youngest male ever in swimming and probably other sports). He got a huge contract from Visa but he had to forego his college elligibility to compete for money. He never grew up and he has a big mouth. The media helps his bad attitude by telling everyone he could break Spitz's record. He claims he only wanted one gold but I saw his cocky little smile showing that he wanted MONEY.

      If the IOC wants to make some fucking rules why not make rules banning professionals from competing? Then we can end this coverage of how bad the NBA stars suck at playing a TEAM SPORT and how Michael Phelps didn't make Spitz's record (BTW Spitz did them all in WR time).

      I'm more disgusted in hype than stupid IOC rules.
      • Jealous much? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Psymunn ( 778581 )
        Okay, the medias hype of phelps was rediculous. But he never asked for it. Where's this 'bad attitude?' where's this 'big mouth.' but i guess because you don't have corporate sponsership, every smile is unjust and portrays someones underlieing greed. man this guy is so cocky i bet he'd get '5 insightful' for bashing athletes online. Face it. The guy is good. He's more ore less the best in the world at what he does and I'd be happy if i was in his postion. I actually know a number of olympic swimmers on the
      • by mbourgon ( 186257 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @07:51PM (#10029352) Homepage
        Waaaaah.
        I haven't seen anything other than swimming, gymnastics, or beach volleyball.
        Then you're not just a troll, but one without a television. Let's see what's been shown today that ISN'T one of your hated sports...
        • Volleyball
        • High Jump
        • Hurdles
        • Hammer Throw
        • Triple Jump
        • 10000m run
        • 20k walk
        • Softball
        • Soccer
        • Cycling - Track
        • Boxing
        • Basketball
        • Tennis
        • Sailing
        • Judo
        • Ping-pong (miserable lameness filter)
        • Equestrian Dressage
        • Badminton Singles and Doubles
        • Rifle Shooting & Weightlifting.

        I believe NBC said they would cover something like 3 hours in EVERY SPORT. From what I've been taping this week, I have to agree. I've seen rafting, some sort of weird round-ball-with-hands, fencing, five more listed above, and all the other "hated" sports. Just because you're too lazy to look doesn't mean it's not there.

        specific Olympian and the media's quest to make the rest of us idolize him
        Ready? People like heroes. It's cool to see. Even if he didn't medal, the fact that he's racing 18 times is pretty darn impressive. The fact that he's winning... what, does it piss you off that someone's doing well? If it annoys you that much, hit mute and just watch and enjoy the games. Even if you hate him, guess what? You're getting more swimming, which more people are watching.
        Wah.

        I saw his cocky little smile showing that he wanted MONEY.
        And? What's wrong with that? More power to him. What is with the communist screed on slashdot over certain things?

        why not make rules banning professionals from competing
        I'll agree with you there. That was the whole point of bringing the Dream Team over the first time - you want pro, we'll bring pro. I'll agree with what Costas said... "Unfortunately, marketing won."
        • Must be nice.... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by bogie ( 31020 ) on Saturday August 21, 2004 @09:53AM (#10032152) Journal
          To A) not have a job or B) own a dual tuner Tivo and have lots of free time. Because the average person who works 9 to 5 and finally settles into tv watching from say 7:30 to 10pm is seeing pretty much nothing but Swiming and Gymnastics. Prime Time Olympic coverage has pretty much sucked ass. I mean how much swimming and gymnastics can the average adult male watch? Sure rarely we've gotten to see other sports in prime time but for the most part its been nothing but the two sports listed above. The parent is right, going by what most people are seeing at night you'd think there are only like 3 sports in the Olympics. Oh and Bob Costas is realy annoying.

          You can list all the program guides you like, it won't change the fact that US audiences are getting royally screwed by the coverage.
      • Re:*sigh* (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cammoblammo ( 774120 )
        If the IOC wants to make some fucking rules why not make rules banning professionals from competing?

        AFAIU, that was how the modern Olympics were in the beginning. The instigator (de Coubertin? I'm too lazy to look it up) was a French Anglophile who was determined to keep the riff raff out of his 'pure' games. The only way a 'commoner' could afford to take time from work in order to train or compete was to earn money from their sport.

        Even now, poorer countries are restricted on the number of athletes the

      • by Mal-2 ( 675116 ) on Saturday August 21, 2004 @02:13AM (#10030944) Homepage Journal
        The main problem with banning professionals would be defining just what a professional is. All those Russian hockey players who collect paychecks from the Army would be considered non-professional athletes, while their counterparts who are above board in how they make a living would be ineligible.

        A level playing field for amateurs was a nice idea, but in many economic systems it was just far too easy to cheat by finding other ways to pay athletes. The only way to close the loophole was to let the more honest countries do the same.

        I will say that I'm quite glad to see the old East German women's 4x200 relay record finally fall, and it seems the entire swimming world feels likewise, even if they would rather have done it themselves.

        Mal-2
    • NBCUniversal is rolling in cash, the latest ratings show they've been winning most nights. They have no reason to change, even if there are absolutely zero people watching the games in person, that's the organizing city's problem, not theirs as far as they are concerned.

      But I concur nonetheless.
    • Re:*sigh* (Score:5, Funny)

      by adrianbaugh ( 696007 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:08PM (#10028647) Homepage Journal
      Wasn't it in a bid to protect something-or-other lucrative that the Trade Federation invaded Naboo? Call me harsh, but if some Gungans are going to get wasted I'm right behind the IOC... :-)
    • I'm with you entirely, but unfortunatley these things just keep encroaching and encroaching on our lives. Last night I went (as usual) to stick the BBC World Service on RealPlayer so that I could listen to it while going off to sleep (lets not get into why I was sleeping in the office). What I actually got, however, was a continuous loop of "Because of licensing restrictions, we cannot bring you this service". Apparently this is all because the Olympics can't be covered by the BBC in the States. This is ri
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:18PM (#10028720)
        The capital of Washington is Olympia, named for the Olympic mountains. The name predates the modern olympic games. There are a lot of stores in Olympia and other parts of Washinton that use "Olympic" in their name...or used to. The IOC sued them for trademark infringement several years ago and most changed their names rather than bankrupt themselves fighting the IOC in court.

        I think it's time for the world public to retake control of the IOC, they are completely out of control and destroying the games in their mad pursuit of money.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          The IOC sued them for trademark infringement several years ago and most changed their names rather than bankrupt themselves fighting the IOC in court.

          While IOC is definitely at fault here, a bigger problem is the US judicial system where the average person or small business can't defend themselves without risking bancrupcy.
    • Re:*sigh* (Score:5, Interesting)

      by skribe ( 26534 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @07:09PM (#10029108) Homepage
      Their legacy extends to their hyperlinking policy [athens2004.com], which says that you have to apply in writing - they even include a snail-mail address - before linking to the Athens Olympic site [athens2004.com].
  • by IamGarageGuy 2 ( 687655 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:01PM (#10028588) Journal
    I would rather get the reports right from the competitors but the reality is that this is not about the people that are actually competing and more about the talking heads of the networks. Unfortunately we will put up with this and just say tsk! tsk!
  • by rice_web ( 604109 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:01PM (#10028590)
    ...the legality of the actions taken. For, who actually owns the Olympic games? How can these rights be changed from country to country? I'm absolutely flustered by it all, especially since I thought that, in the first place, taking photos at an event was entirely legal.
    • The IOC has negotiated special arrangements with at least some governments.

      For example, in the US I don't think it is legally possible to sue them, at least not in certain areas.

      I used to work for a company which published a game... the game's logo was 5 golden interlocking rings in a circle. The IOC lawyered us up and we had to change the logo; it was not possible to fight back, as the bossman explained it to us. Besides, we were a little company and even if we could fight, we'd lose more money than if w
    • by C10H14N2 ( 640033 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:44PM (#10028953)
      The IOC. They get countries and commercial interests to spend billions because there's a boatload of money to be made by hosting and covering the games. The Olympics have ALWAYS been a private interest. Ownership of the games has for over a hundred years been controlled by the IOC. The atheletes are members who have agreed to abide by every whim of the IOC in return for being allowed to participate. There's NOTHING surprising or new here.
    • by yelvington ( 8169 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @07:03PM (#10029065) Homepage
      Sad to say: No, taking photos at an event -- for any purpose, including news -- may in fact be covered by a gray-ink "contract" printed on the back of your ticket. It's similar to a the EULAs in shrinkwrapped software.

      Sports sanctioning organizations figured out years ago that they're really entertainment companies, creating "intellectual property."

      And they do not want competition. So they create exclusive, licensed arrangements for distribution of this "property." This is why you cannot watch of the BBC's Olympics streaming video in the USA, or any of NBC's video streaming anywhere on the Web.

      Newspapers are not allowed to shoot video -- even though many newspapers shoot video these days, for their Web sites.

      Some sports organizations have gone so far as to claim ownership of basic facts and try to prevent realtime scoring and distribution of data on the Internet.

  • Not right!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bgog ( 564818 ) * on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:03PM (#10028605) Journal
    They shouldn't be alowed to do this.

    I know other parts of the world don't respect free speach as we 'try' to in the US but this is horrible.

    The medal winners need to organize and have a blogathon. They can't disqualify everyone.

    They IOC doesn't own the experiences of the athletes!!!! UGGGG
  • One more reason... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Poseidon88 ( 791279 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:04PM (#10028614)
    Just another in a long list of reasons for me to not waste my time watching the Olympics on TV. I remember when just being at the Olympics was enough to justify a lifelong pursuit of perfection. Nowadays, it's just a ticket to a lucrative advertising career, and you'd better get the gold, because 2nd place won't get you on a Wheaties box.
  • by Marc_Hawke ( 130338 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:05PM (#10028618)
    I'm sure this argument will be echoed by other posters, but I think this "Olympic blackout" policy by the IOC is getting ridiculous.

    But I also think that the problem is self-repairing.

    As it becomes more and more obvious that the Olympics are becoming NOTHING more than a corporate subsidized media event, the whole thing will revert to non-commercial, non-exclusive, pure competition. (Athletic competition, not commercial.)

    Of course, we might have to endure the NBC/Nike Olympic Games! first.

    Forbidding the athletes to post their own pictures is insane. I guess since the IOC makes the rules, they can just dis-allow someone from participating for any reason they want...but it's definately insane.
  • All Your Thoughts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Eberlin ( 570874 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:06PM (#10028623) Homepage
    Are Belong To Us

    Let's see...you train your whole life to have a shot at this thing, enjoy the moment, and want to share that moment with anyone and everyone using your own words. Sounds like natural progression in technology, eh?

    Well, too bad. You've got corporate sponsors -- shoes, clothes, probably even the plane ticket to Athens. Then you've got people who commercialize this event so bad that they won't even let you share your thoughts unless they can make money off of it. You're a commodity, not some olympic hero. You're merchandise to be marketed and sold to a public who admire you. Your honor and glory amount to a feel-good story soundbyte...and that's about it.

    So much for the spirit of the olympics. I'd have taken the laurel wreath and the vat of olive oil. Then again I'm not an athlete...and I'm not at all marketable...so a good bottle of olive oil sounds nice.
  • by Trespass ( 225077 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:06PM (#10028635) Homepage
    The cold war is over. The feeling of 'east versus west' is gone. A lot of people don't care anymore. After the blatantly corrupt money-grab of the previous Olympics, even fewer people care. Attempts by the organization to commodify all aspects of the Olympic experience will only accelerate the trend.

    For me, the most heartening and yet saddest aspect of this debacle is the recognition of the power of the web to convey stories and images much faster and more efficiently than traditional outlets. I suppose the future is here, I guess I just hoped for something else.
    • The Cold War is over and the press is despairing. Have you noticed the new emphasis in the (US) press about the competition between China and the US in these Olympics? Apparently, they realized as you did that there's no East vs. West rivalry anymore and they're trying to push this rivalry on us in order to gain ratings.

      I feel no competition with China. If history proves anything, it's that repressive regimes eventually fail as peasants revolt. Back to my point, no one I know feels any real rivalry wit
  • This sucks (Score:3, Funny)

    by Karma Farmer ( 595141 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:08PM (#10028644)
    That sucks, and I will not support the IOC with my money. Someone tell me when the Olympics start, so I can be sure not to watch TV that week.
  • WAIT (Score:4, Informative)

    by apraetor ( 248989 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:10PM (#10028665)
    They're only barred from writing for other news organizations, not for personal websites. Blogging isn't banned, according to the article.

    Rather, Olympians are prohibited from writing articles and taking photographs for publication by outside news agencies.

    This.. doesn't seem nearly so horrid. They can control which credentialed journalists get in, and make sure they've paid their dues and whatnot. The IOC is trying to prevent organizations from skipping past them and hiring on Olympians as insiders.
    • Re:WAIT (Score:5, Informative)

      by Concerned Onlooker ( 473481 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:26PM (#10028795) Homepage Journal
      The article is a little confusing. Near the top it states:
      An exception is if an athlete has a personal Web site that they did not set up specifically for the Game
      But two paragraphs later it says this:
      Participants in the games may respond to written questions from reporters or participate in online chat sessions -- akin to a face-to-face or telephone interview -- but they may not post journals or online diaries, blogs in Internet parlance, until the Games end August 29.
      It also says "athletes and other participants are also prohibited from posting any video, audio or still photos they take themselves, even after the games, unless they get permission ahead of time."

      This seems ludicrous to me. I might buy into the part about not posting while the event is happening, but after the fact? These athletes are doing what for many of them is a once-in-a-lifetime event and then they're prohibited from sharing their stories and images afterwards? The ahtletes had to work damn hard to get there. The media just had to buy their way in and now they're going to keep the participants from using their personal imagery.

    • Re:WAIT (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nwbvt ( 768631 )
      <sarcasm>What are you implying? That slashdot editors rushed to make a political statement concerning something innocent. I'm shocked.</sarcasm>
  • Is the IOC a private organization?
  • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:13PM (#10028684) Homepage Journal
    Don't these people have any confidence in the superiority of their skills, equipment and planning? How sorry can they get?

    If I'm interested in a sport, I will want to see the full quality version. Sure, I'd love to read a blog or two, but what I'm really interested in is the event itself and I'll figure a way around M$NBC's stupid internet black out to get it.

    If I were an athlete, I'd tell the IOC to shove it just as soon as my event was over and post whatever I wanted my family and friends to see.

  • An Olympics that prohibits free speech? Of course the IOC is a non-governing body- but as far as I'm concerned, it should be wide open to all media.

    For that matter, we should have a television broadcast devoted to political candidates in the US- so that any candidate from any party with enough signatures can get an equal share of air time.

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:14PM (#10028690)
    Well okay, so let's admit the IOC is sold to big media corps, which they are for various reasons involving money under the table no double, and they threaten to sue the hell out of olympians who post pictures and accounts. Let's say...

    But disqualify them? under what rule? if someone wins an event fairly and his/her urine checks out, why would they be disqualified by this? is this a rule that was written that athletes agreed upon before? I bet it's not. And if it isn't, I wager olympians who already won something before this IOC statement could probably post something, because rules usually can't be made retroactive.

    And at any rate, I'm quite sure athletes could challenge such a disqualification in court without too much trouble. But of course, they won't, because their goal is to win medals, not defend free speech, and also the last thing they need is to antagonize media monopolies, because a great part of their incomes come from airtime and grooming their public image.

    So, way to go IOC. You fit just right in the current grand scheme of corrupt things. Not that I care greatly about what athlete have to say, they're usually fairly inane to listen to, but none the less they should have free speech like the rest of us.
  • Really, are the Olympics anything more than sponser corporations and television networks and the tourist boards of cities trying to capitalize on the nationalism of their respective states?

    I have no problem with the commercialization of sports... But I am disturbed by several things.

    First, shouldn't the athletes get a cut of the money? I mean, it is the single most popular sporting event in the world. Look how much they make in the NBA, or how much footballers are paid. The athletes are the stars of the
  • The other side (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kilocomp ( 234607 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:14PM (#10028695)
    While I am not saying I completely agree with the IOC on this one, but they have the legal right to control all means of making money on this. If Mr. Phelps or some other big name Olympian had their own blog they could generate a lot of traffic. If they just happen to also have some advertising on it they could potentially make a lot of money reporting the Olympics. Most likely a 3rd party company would run the blog for the athlete so even more people are making money. This is all about money (whether that is a good thing or a bad thing) not the IOC trying to control the athletes thoughts.
  • by MrNally ( 236174 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:15PM (#10028698) Homepage
    All this will take to reverse is one gold medalist posting a bunch of photos and movies their parents took of them.

    It doesn't matter what any court anywhere would say, they would be so pressured by public opinion over the matter that this wouldn't last.

    Just imagine if they tried to not let them compete, or take away a medal or something.

    Case closed.
  • Telling Stories (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Paladin144 ( 676391 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:16PM (#10028707) Homepage
    As humans, that's what we do. To deny us that right is an attack on our human rights - which includes freedom of speech under the UN charter.

    Luckily, if you RTFA they say that existing personal websites are exempt, but even then you apparently cannot post pix or video. That's fucking bullshit. I would very much like to see somebody challenge this rule, but unfortunately I think they would be simply kicked out of the Olympics and left with no recourse. Who is the IOC accountable to? No one, except for member countries, I'd bet.

    Really, this seems to be a sad attempt by the news media to protect their turf. It's so pathetic. My question is, what if an athlete is also an accredited journalist in real life. Does the IOC grant them permission to post on their website? Obviously big money trumps free speech every time, though. I guess it's about time we just gave in and begged our corporate masters to be merciful. Fat lotta good that will do.

    [/rant]

  • Money... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by imbaczek ( 690596 )
    Money: the best thing that could happen to civilisation, the worst thing that could happen to humanity.
  • The International Olympic Committee is barring competitors, as well as coaches, support personnel and other officials, from writing firsthand accounts for
    news and other Web sites.

    An exception is if an athlete has a personal Web site that they did not set up specifically for the Games.
    Emphasis added
    Sounds like blogging is legal to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:20PM (#10028740)
    They don't even want people directing traffic to their site. Check out their policy here [athens2004.com] Ooops...So much for that rule :)
    • > They don't even want people directing traffic to their site. Check out their policy here [athens2004.com] Ooops...So much for that rule :)

      If you get the link from a third party and have not seen the policy, then you cannot agree to it, therefore you're indemnified from any breach of contract action they may try to file against you (IANAL, I just speak like one).

      These sponsor contracts are very lucrative for the IOC, and though they may be a non-profit, they pay for many expensive perks and luxurious travel for the

  • by bStrom ( 806850 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:31PM (#10028848)
    This is the part that bothers me:

    To protect lucrative broadcast contracts, athletes and other participants are also prohibited from posting any video, audio or still photos they take themselves, even after the games, unless they get permission ahead of time. (Photos taken by accredited journalists are allowed on the personal sites.)

    First, I don't think this would hold up in court, especially if the photographs are being used on a non-commercial site. It's like saying, "Yes, we said you could take as many pictures as you want, but you just can't show them to anyone else or use them on any website."

    What's the point of taking the pictures?!?

    I could understand if they said that the pictures could not be used commercially - that statement could at least be supported by some semblance of an argument.

    I could also *maybe* understand a blackout of photographic or video media until after the olympics are over.

    This, though, is just wrong.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20, 2004 @06:33PM (#10028865)
    This is really, really stupid. What the IOC should have done is hand over blogging rights to one of their sponsors/networks (perhaps for free, this time, in the expectation of huge returns in future games when the value of blogging is more established) then setup up blogging facilities at said sponser/network's website and make the available to any atheletes who wish to make use of them. You could partition it by country, with nbc.com blogs for American atheletes, cbc.com blogs for Canadians, etc or put it all under one big site like Coke's.

    No PR nightmare and a new revenue stream too!

    Dumbasses!
  • by crucini ( 98210 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @07:15PM (#10029153)
    Here are three trends:
    1. Universities were originally mere facilities in which learned professors could teach. The professor was the drawing power, and could teach in a self-rented hall or in the College. Gradually, the University has swollen in cost and power until it overshadows the professors. The University makes lots of rules to govern professors and students, and any one professor is disposable. Lately universities have been demanding ownership of online lecture produced by professors, so they can play them over and over, extracting revenue.
    2. Software companies own the copyright to code written by their employees. Increasingly, they even own patents. So the actually creative people are legally obstructed, but the mere shell, which produces nothing in itself, is increasingly powerful. We are approaching the point where there's no value in being a programmer, because the only value is in owning the rights that enable a certain application.
    3. The Olympics is ostensibly centered on the athletes. But more and more news stories illuminate the fact that the Olympics is a very powerful organization that can dictate terms to athletes. Although the athletes create all the value here, they own nothing.

    These professors, programmers and athletes get a small share of the value they create. Most of the value goes to those who have cleverly extended the "container" and claim the individual's achievement in the name of the container.

    It is an error to attribute the individual's achievement to the container in which he works.
  • Hardly Surprising (Score:5, Informative)

    by Beautyon ( 214567 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @07:33PM (#10029254) Homepage
    Given this piece of utter cluelessness:

    Hyperlink Policy

    ATHENS 2004 Organising Commitee for the Olympic Games -Website Hyperlink Policy

    For your protection and ours we have established a procedure for parties wishing to introduce a link to the ATHENS 2004 website on their site. By introducing a link to the ATHENS 2004 official Website on your site you are agreeing to comply with the ATHENS 2004 Website General Terms and Conditions. In order to place a link embedded in copy interested parties should:

    a) Use the term ATHENS 2004 only, and no other term as the text referent

    b) Not associate the link with any image, esp. the ATHENS 2004 Emblem (see paragraph below)

    c) Send a request letter to the Internet Department stating:
    * Short description of site
    * Reason for linking
    * Unique URL containing the link (if no unique URL than just the main URL)
    * Publishing period
    * Contact point (e-mail address)

    Once the request has been mailed, interested parties can proceed to include the link and will only receive a response if ATHENS 2004 does not accept the link. All requests should be sent to:

    The Internet Department
    Iolkou 8 and Filikis Eterias str.
    GR-142 34 N. Ionia, Athens
    Tel: +30 210 2004 000
    Fax: +30 210 2004 800
    e-mail: (All information submitted using this e-mail address is governed by the ATHENS 2004 Privacy Policy)
    terms@athens2004.gr
  • Castro was right (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20, 2004 @07:46PM (#10029337)
    You know, a while back Fidel Castro was lobbying for a Havana Olympics, perhaps in 2012, but I can't remember. Anyway, the IOC said that it was impossible because Havana doesn't have the required infrastructure.

    Castro's response was that he knew his country didn't have the kind of resources to provide an ultra-modern olympic village like other countries do, but that despite their apparent lack of infrastructure and small size, Cuba has always produced good athletes. His opinion was that in a less modern country, athletes would have to focus on the game more than the money, and that the Olypmics was becoming too commercialized.

    At the time I laughed, because to Castro, buying a candybar with your own money is probably too commercialized, but after reading the last few articles about IOC shenanigans I'm beginning to wonder if Havana wouldn't be a good place for the games. You can bet your tush that Castro wouldn't allow it to be the Corporatist games. Hey, he may be a communist dictator, but sometimes, that's a good thing. Can you imagine an olympic games without coca-cola ads everywhere, but instead, just a bunch of the best athletes in the world competing?
  • by snarkasaurus ( 627205 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @08:07PM (#10029435)
    The IOC was conceived, created and peopled by the "internationalists", the same bunch of supposed do-gooders who populate the bureacracy of the UN.

    In other words, totalitarian minded scam artists out for some juicy graft. The first whiff of something that might negatively affect their little game, slam bam off come the gloves, baby. Kids in the Olympics have no rights and don't you forget it. Same as the UN, but more obvious and less damaging. At least nobody is getting starved to death or fed into a shredder for some faceless UN middleman's Oil-For-Food payoff cheque.

    You want to see somebody scream? If you ever are unfortunate enough to meet an IOC creature, mention to them that you think it would be a good idea that the athletes should get a piece of the media money. They are the point of the whole affair and its pictures of them on the TV, shouldn't they get a piece of the action, after IOC expenses are covered? Hell no, of course not! It isn't about athletics, its about sleazy deals between scummy bureaucrats.

    The kids competing are being taken for the biggest sleighride on Earth. Empty stadiums the whole first week shows I'm not the only one who thinks so.

    And by the way, you can all thank God for those Eeeevile Corporations (TM) because they are the ONLY people who actually -pay- the kids for services rendered. Nike and Rebock et al have put many an otherwise pennyless jock through school and bought them a nice wee starter house and a second hand car when nobody else would give them a nickel. Sportswear companies look like Mother Teresa next to the frickin' IOC.

    You corporation haters think about that one for a minute or two before you turn the flame thrower my way.
  • OC Code of conduct (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rimu guy ( 665008 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @08:55PM (#10029643) Homepage

    Each athlete signs an agreement to abide by the Olympic committee's code of conduct [usef.org]. That code includes these clauses:

    Under no circumstances, throughout the duration of the Olympic Games, may any athlete, coach, official, press attaché or any other accredited participant be accredited or act as a journalist or in any other media capacity.

    will not use or authorize the use of the following items for the purpose of trade, without the prior written consent of the USOC (which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld) (1) photographs, films or videos of myself in the apparel or equipment provided by the USOC for the Games; (2) any Games medals; and (3) photographs, films or videos of myself with any Games medals;

    Reading that I would argue that posting on a blog is not acting in the capacity of a journalist. Nor in a 'media capacity'

    I would also argue that that posting photos of myself or my medals is not for the 'purpose of trade'.

    Then I'd ensure that those photos were taken by friends and family, and not me.

    And then the USOC will not 'reasonably withhold' permission for me using those images.

    Anyway, it'd be fun to see one of the athletes test this. 'Course, it's not my medal on the line ;)

    --
    Gold Medal Winning Linux VPS Hosting [rimuhosting.com]

  • by Quantum Jim ( 610382 ) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `42tscfj'> on Friday August 20, 2004 @10:11PM (#10030062) Homepage Journal
    Just wait until the day when an athlete's medal is revoked and barred from further competition - not for cheating by drugs or otherwise - for sharing their experiences with others. The public outcry for reasons of either nationalism or 'simple' human decency will not allow it! On that day there shall be such an outcry that no one will ever again strive to participate under the Olympic's current administration.
  • Attendance Issues (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ray Radlein ( 711289 ) on Friday August 20, 2004 @10:30PM (#10030153) Homepage

    good thing they're not having any problems selling tickets anyways [voanews.com], eh?"
    I was watching the US women's soccer match against Australia the other morning, and the stands were quite honestly emptier than any stands I've ever seen for any sporting event, ever. The Whitbread across the ocean yacht race had more spectators. Mile 143 of the Iditarod had more spectators.

    There were no spectators on the far side of the stadium from the cameras. There were no spectators in the stands at either end zone. Not figuratively; literally: zero. And while I know that there must have been some spectators on the near side, because I heard one or two "USA!" cheers and, I think, an "Aussie Aussie Aussie!" cheer (also, the announcers mentioned that some of the players had family in attendance), they were invisible to the high stadium camera.

    Presumably, they were all clustered low, near the center line or behind the benches; but with the exception of one suspiciously close-cropped shot of a couple of cheering fans used as B-roll footage on a return from commercial, there was no visual evidence that anyone was in attendance.

    Now, I understand that women's socccer is not exactly as popular in Greece as it is in America, or even, say, Germany or Mexico; but I live in Atlanta and, you know, we sold out Archery -- not exactly a sport designed for thrilling live audiences -- in 1996. We sold out Field Hockey. We sold out the Modern Pentathlon. We sold out Team Handball, fer chrissakes, and it's hard to imagine a more obscure or unpopular sport in America (my wife and I went to it, too, and it was great fun to watch).

    As I said to King Kaufman at Salon.com [salon.com], "2004 in Athens marks the first Olympics to ever be boycotted by its host country."

    • Re:Attendance Issues (Score:3, Interesting)

      by multimed ( 189254 )
      In my mind as far as embarrassment, this goes so far beyond anything the US basketball team could have done. I mean it's absolutely shameful for the greatest compilation of athletes in the world from a huge variety of sports, an event that only happens a couple of times a decade, has such pathetic attendence. I'm sure part of it is that the ticket prices are a fortune so ulitmately it's proably a result of greed. Anyone involved in the organizing and promotion of this Olympics should be embarassed. At o
  • by Facekhan ( 445017 ) on Saturday August 21, 2004 @12:13AM (#10030588)
    Tried to post this a few hours ago but they must have cut off my internet connection to stop me.

    The Olympics are not about sport. They are about money and jingoism. The why of this rule coming into place is easy. As to how they can legally enforce silence on thousands of athletes whose own first hand accounts are far more interesting than the talking head commentary on "ennnnn bee see" is mostly due to how copyright laws have been twisted to the point where it would probably be better for the vast majority of us, who don't own TV stations, if there was no such thing as copyright.

    The difference between news and entertainment blurred and now it is no surprise that the entertainment conglomerates tell the news organizations (mostly owned by those same conglomerates) that they have to pay to report the score of a football (or any other pro sport) game played in a stadium that taxpayers paid for.

    Aside from a once or twice a year trip to Camden Yards to get a Boog's barbecue sandwich I really have no interest in Professional or College athletics because it has nothing to do with sport or competition and everything to do with making a ton of money by controling every aspect of perception of a publicly funded event.

    The IOC, the MLB, the NBA, and NFL and all the others can keep their steroid chomping illiterate super-athletes because if I want to have fun I am gonna go play my own game until they sue me for kicking a ball around without a license.
  • by edunbar93 ( 141167 ) on Saturday August 21, 2004 @03:56AM (#10031164)
    I guess we won't be seeing any "Olympians go wild" videos anytime soon then.

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