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Keeping Olympic venues ad-free key to preserving purity of games, researcher says

With the amount of money its takes to stage the Olympics, it might be natural to assume that commercial advertising would be increasingly more apparent at the games as a source of revenue to help sustain them.

And while corporate sponsorship will be highly visible at this summer’s London Olympics – which will cost more than $12 billion to stage – keeping overt signs of advertisements out of the actual athletic venues is one way the International Olympic Commission strives to maintain the purity of the games, according to an Olympics researcher.

Scott Martyn, an associate professor in Human Kinetics who has attended 14 Olympics, said the IOC allows plenty of corporate sponsorship outside the venues but does a good job of making sure it’s far less visible inside.

“Thus far, the relationship seems to be balanced,” said Dr. Martyn, who has already traveled to London three times to scope out the Olympic facilities and plans to travel back when the games are finished.

“What I don’t want to see is the average athlete showing up with sponsorship all over their apparel. I hope that doesn’t become the norm. If one starts to allow ‘sponsor creep’ into the venues, once that door is cracked open a bit, it’s going to swing open and you’re not going to be able to put the cork back into the bottle.”

Martyn spends much of his research time investigating the historical evolution of the Olympic Games and the history of Olympic commercialism. He’s served on the executive council of the International Centre for Olympic Studies, he’s the managing editor of Olympika: The International Journal of Olympic Studies, and is a distinguished visiting fellow at the Beijing Sport University. He co-authored a book called Selling the Five Rings: The IOC and the Rise of Olympic Commercialism and is editor of the recently published book Tarnished Rings: The International Olympic Committee and the Salt Lake City Bid Scandal.

Martyn will appear today on Research Matters, a show that highlights the work of University of Windsor researchers and airs every Thursday at 4:30 p.m. on CJAM 99.1 FM.

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