I've always liked them
[size=+2]Olympian struggle [/size]
[size=+1] Fans face boot for eating or drinking wrong brands at games [/size] By MARK FRANCHETTI / The Sunday Times
In a far cry from the high-minded ideals of humanity and tolerance embodied by the Olympics, the organizers of the Athens games have warned spectators that they could be barred for taking a surreptitious sip of Pepsi or an illicit bite from a Burger King Whopper.
Strict regulations published by Athens 2004 last week dictate that spectators may be refused admission to events if they are carrying food or drinks made by companies that did not see fit to sponsor the games.
Sweltering sports fans who seek refuge from the soaring temperatures with a soft drink other than one made by Coca-Cola will be told to leave the banned refreshment at the gates or be shut out. High on the list of blacklisted beverages is Pepsi, but even the wrong bottle of water could land spectators in trouble.
Fans will be allowed into the Olympic complex if they are drinking Avra, a Greek mineral water owned by Coca-Cola, which paid $60 million US for the privilege of being one of the main sponsors. Officials are under orders not to let in rival brands' bottles unless the labels are removed.
Staff will also be on the lookout for T-shirts, hats and bags displaying the unwelcome logos of non-sponsors. Stewards have been trained to detect people who may be wearing merchandise from the sponsors' rivals in the hope of catching the eyes of television audiences. Those arousing suspicion will be required to wear their T-shirts inside out.
Known as the "clean venue policy," the rules were drawn up by the Greeks and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to shield sponsors from so-called "ambush marketing" - an attempt to advertise items during the games without paying sponsorship fees.
The restrictions on food and drink are intended to ensure that only items made by official sponsors such as McDonald's and two Greek dairy firms are consumed at Olympic venues.
An official familiar with the restrictions said: "We have to protect official sponsors who have paid millions to make the Olympics happen. There will be cases of individual spectators being allowed in wearing a T-shirt bearing the logo of a rival sports brand but anyone who tries to practise ambush marketing will be removed."
This will also apply to members of a crowd sitting next to each other wearing clothing with letters that spell out a political or religious message.
The restrictions, which have drawn criticism from Amnesty International, are even harsher for the thousands of stewards and volunteers working at Athens 2004 who have been supplied with uniforms but no shoes.
"We have to provide our own shoes and we were told that we shouldn't wear trainers with a bright logo from a sports brand which is not an official sponsor like Adidas," said one.
The main sponsors of the games have paid more than $1 billion in total for exclusive advertising rights and privileges, including the use of the Olympic logo under their brand names. It is not even possible to buy a ticket to the Olympics using a credit card other than Visa, which paid more than $30 million for its exclusive rights.
Other brands can display small logos if they are sponsoring a national team or an individual athlete, but official sponsors have turned some of the games' most famous names into walking billboards.
The image of Michael Phelps, the American swimmer aiming to win seven gold medals, has even appeared on Visa cards. All American medal winners are required to wear an Adidas outfit on the podium, according to the company's sponsorship contract with the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Kostas Giannis, a Greek sports fan, said: "I don't see why, after all the money that Greek taxpayers will end up paying to host the games, McDonald's should dictate what I can eat in my own city."