Olympic Censorship: Know What Your Business Cannot Say

Olympic Censorship, know what your business can't say

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Olympic Censorship, know what your business can't say

This summer the UK will play host to the 2012 Olympics. While your customers may be looking forward to it, as a business you need to be very careful with what you say. Or rather don’t say about the Olympics.

Unless you are an official Olympic sponsor, there are very strict rules about what words you can use or what images you can use in reference to the Olympics.

Unfortunately it’s quite serious and the way it’s been handled thus far suggests it’s not something that will only affect big businesses. As small businesses and individuals have suffered at the hands of LOGOC. (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games.)

At the end of May a florist in Stoke-on-Trent wanted to show her support for Team GB and created a paper tissue display of the Olympic rings. She was then forced to take it down as she hadn’t received permission to use the logo.

This means that any deals, offers or sales you were thinking of having in celebration of the Games will have to be forgotten or rehashed to show no association to the Olympics.


The use of Olympic related words in association with the Olympics is forbidden without prior written consent from LOGOC.
As mentioned above, this means any plans for ‘Olympic Deals’ will have to be forgotten. Changed to ‘Large global sporting event in the capital of the country over the summer deals’ perhaps?

The Olympic rings themselves. The five colours. The Olympic motto (Citius Altius Fortius / Faster Higher Stronger). And the words ‘Olympic(s)’, ‘Olympian(s)’ ‘Olympiad(s)’ or anything similar or a translation cannot be used.

The same goes for the Paralympic Games. Where the use of the Paralympic Symbol, the Paralympic motto (Spirit in Motion), the words ‘Paralympic(s)’, ‘Paralympiad(s)’, ‘Paralympian(s)’ or anything similar or a translation is also prohibited without prior written consent.

You can however refer to things factually. For example, if you run a sports centre you can still talk about your olympic sized swimming pool. If you run a hotel near a stadium hosting events for the Games, you can mention that.

A table of ‘Listed Words’ was produced by LOGOC, which if used, could end up in a visit from the ‘branding Police’.


‘Two Thousand and Twelve’
‘twenty twelve’



You cannot use a combination of two words from Group A or one word from Group A combined with one or more word from Group B.


The use of certain images is also risky. Though LOCOG say the use of these images may not immediately create an association with the Games.
When you read the list though, you’d be hard pushed to image how any of those couldn’t be associated with the Games.

The list includes;
• Olympic-style torch or flame.
• The five colours of the Olympic symbol.
• Use of the official designs for the 2012 Olympics or similar designs.
• Images of venues that will be used for Olympic events.
• Depiction of Olympic and/or Paralympic sports.
• Words which capture the essence of the 2012 Games and/or qualities associated with Olympism such as spirit, endeavour, friendship, winning or determination.

Visit the London 2012 website to view the full copy of the ‘Information On London 2012’s UK Statutory Marketing Right’s.’ 

It’s understandable that LOCOG want to help official sponsors get as much out of being an olympic sponsor as possible. But the restrictions placed on other businesses makes it hard for them to celebrate the Olympics with their customers.

Make sure you don’t get caught out this summer; know what you and your business can and cannot say.


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