Apple Logo Welcome at Olympics After All?

Good news, Olympic athletes--if you whip out your iPhone at the Sochi games, you will not find yourself surrounded by a cadre of unsmiling officials demanding that you account for what you've done.

Good news, Olympic athletes--if you whip out your iPhone at the Sochi games, you will not find yourself surrounded by a cadre of unsmiling officials demanding that you account for what you've done.

Apple   logo as Olympic rings
Apple logo as Olympic rings

I mean, you could still find yourself surrounded by a cadre of unsmiling officials at any time during these particular interests for any one of a number of reasons. But using a smartphone that didn't pay up for the Olympic seal of approval isn't one of them.

That's the story out of Russia, at any rate, in the wake of reports that Apple's iPhone was an unwelcome attendee at Friday's Opening Ceremonies. As we and other sites reported a few days ago, athletes were under the impression that if they used an iPhone to capture precious memories of Friday's big event, they would have to cover up the Apple logo or risk incurring the wrath of the International Olympic Committee and its corporate sponsor (and Apple archenemy) Samsung.

But Samsung, speaking to The Guardian insists that's not true.

"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."

And what did the IOC have to say for itself: "Athletes can use any device they wish during the Opening Ceremony," the Olympics organizer told The Guardian. We'll note that doesn't exactly contradict reports that athletes have to cover up the logo, but let's take Olympic organizers at their word--they seem trustworthy.

So how did reports of such a ban get started in the first place? Maybe language barriers can make strongly worded suggestions sound more like edicts. And it's not as if governing sports bodies like the IOC are known for their live-and-let-live attitude toward these types of things: that same Guardian article also links to a 2012 piece on the IOC's "branding police" and its efforts to protect sponsors at the 2012 Summer Games in London. Plus, athletes in Sochi already face a number of restrictions--they can't post video or audio to social networks lest it step on the toes of media companies that paid big bucks for broadcasting rights, for example--so it was only natural for athletes to be confused as to where the draconian dos and don'ts ended.

We'd love to be able to report on whether any athletes were spotted freely waving about their iPhones during Friday's Opening Ceremonies. But we live in the U.S., where rights-holder NBC tape delays a ceremony that ended hours ago until prime time. If only there were other ways to stream the Olympics...

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