From an editorial that appeared in the San Jose Mercury News on Friday:
No one goes for the gold quite like the International Olympic Committee.
The IOC will rake in $6 billion from the London Olympics, and its elite governing board couldnt care less that more than half of the participants have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet.
Heres what the Olympic spirit means to IOC President Jacques Rogge:
Any on-site criticism or protest is strictly forbidden before, during or immediately after the Olympics. The IOC insisted that Britains Parliament pass laws giving it policing powers that would make Third World dictators jealous.
The IOC is so intent on protecting its brand that it has nearly 300 enforcers on its payroll whose job is to wander Londons boroughs and report violators. So far, they have reportedly forced a London butcher to take down a sign made out of sausages in the shape of the Olympic rings, threatened a London restaurant with a $30,000 fine for calling itself Cafe Olympic, and made sure another chef stopped offering a menu featuring a flaming torch bacon and egg baguette.
What next? Forbidding anyone but McDonalds from selling french fries? Oops, theyre doing that, too. The only way to get chips in the Olympic Village is to order them at the Golden Arches or buy them specifically as fish and chips, the British staple that barely got special dispensation from the IOC.
Its the athletes who suffer most from the IOCs iron hand. Marketing rules forbid them from even publicly thanking their own sponsors or endorsing products from nine days before the opening ceremonies until three days after the close. U.S. athletes have been ordered to remove endorsements from their Twitter and Facebook accounts. The rules dont hurt athletes who make lavish incomes from their sport. But more than half of U.S. athletes work two or three jobs and make less than $15,000 a year while training.
If the Olympics were free of commercialism, the limits on athletes would be different. But they are supremely commercial. Its just that the IOC has a monopoly.
Some members of the U.S. track and field team are demanding change. But itll be hard to wrestle even an ounce of gold from guys who could object to flaming torch bacon and egg baguettes.