Why we didn’t have a S*mmer 2*12, and related issues

If you live in the UK, you may have noticed that we haven’t had much of a summer this year. We’ve had the wettest June on record. The wettest April on record. And the wettest April-June on record.

Normally, when I see a summer like this, I blame the cricket team. [When the England cricket team is weak and playing at home, everyone prays for rain]. But right now the team is on top of the world rankings and has been there for a while, so I can’t point fingers at the MCC.

So I looked for another culprit. And found one, facilely. Those two dreaded words. No, not “global warming”, that’s too eighties. No, not “climate change” either, that’s too oughties. Hosepipe ban. A hosepipe ban was announced on 12 March this year. And that heralded ninety days of sheeting rain. So I felt justified in looking in that direction. It seemed right.

Mea culpa.

There was a far more important reason.

Perhaps God didn’t want to get on the wrong side of LOCOG. [I jest]. After all, an Act had been passed, and it wasn’t an Act of God. Here’s some expert opinion on the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006, and the amended version that was enacted:

The government, in cooperation with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has put in place extremely tough laws which restrict use of names, words and other signs that refer or allude to the Olympics or Paralympics.

To supplement existing laws providing broad protection in the names ‘Olympics’ and ‘Paralympics’, the Olympic and Paralympic symbols and similar elements, the government passed the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006.

This act in effect prevents any ‘unauthorised person’ (i.e. anyone except official sponsors such as Coca-Cola and McDonalds) from doing anything that ‘is likely to create in the public mind an association’ between the 2012 Olympics and that person, and/or their goods, services or activities.

The 2006 act provides an extended list of terms whose ‘misuse’ by unauthorised parties is likely to infringe LOCOG’s rights. The newly-protected expressions fall into two separate categories:

Category 1

‘Twenty twelve’
‘Two Thousand and Twelve’

Category 2


If the unauthorised party has (a) used two words from category 1 (e.g. ‘Games 2012’) or (b) used one word from category 1 and category 2, a Court is likely to find it has infringed LOCOG’s rights. This means that some surprising combinations are banned – e.g. ‘Summer 2012’.

LOCOG may be granted an injunction to stop further use of the ‘offending’ language, and/or an award of damages. Criminal sanctions may also apply where there is sale of goods.

Moreover, the above rule is not exhaustive, and any branding, advertising and campaigning which manages to avoid the above expressions but which still conveys a covert ‘nod’ to the Olympics may be unlawful.

We couldn’t have a summer this year. It was banned. God wasn’t a sponsor. And claiming prior Mount Olympus rights would not have worked either.

Oh well.

In a free country in the 21st century, with apparent freedom of speech and expression, there are, nevertheless, a whole slew of two-word combinations we can’t use.

An unusual consequence of Baron Coubertin’s movement. And it made me think, what else are we not allowed to do? Here’s a sample:

No eating chips on their own unless they’re from a particular provider. This, in the land of fish and chips.

No drinking bitter unless it’s in a plain unbranded glass, unless it’s made by the sponsor. This, in the land that created bitter.

No wearing clothes that have the wrong brands? Perhaps. How about displaying bagels in the form of five interconnected rings in your bakery window? Absolutely not!

What about tweeting your experiences of the event, perhaps with photographs or even film? Mostly not.

How about taking your cash out of your bank account, from an ATM belonging to a bank that you probably part-own as a UK taxpayer? It depends on where it is.

Bored? Why not read the regulations on advertising activity and trading around the event, wherever it is. Contained in 45 pdfs, over 150mb worth. Enjoy!

Want to live life in the fast lane? Tough, unless you qualify for the Zil lanes.

Enough. You get my drift.


I love watching sport live, and have encouraged my children to do so at every opportunity. Over the years I’ve taken them to watch soccer, cricket, rugby, basketball, baseball, even American football, at national and international level. Sometimes we’ve travelled abroad to pursue our interests in live sport.

I love the ideals of the Olympics, kept very active scrapbooks during the Mexico and Munich events, have been a keen TV-based observer pretty much since. This year, I thought I would be able to go, applied for what I could afford, failed to get any allocations. Oh well.

Maybe a few hundred thousand people will be lucky enough to watch the events live. I wish them well. I’m happy to be part of the billion or so that will rely on TV: after all, TV today is so much more than it was in previous years: I can choose the device I use, the location I will be at, the time when I want to watch. So it means I won’t have to miss anything I really want to watch.

  • I hope and pray that the event goes off well logistically and administratively, that despite the usual glitches “it’ll be all right on the night”.
  • I hope and pray that terrorism doesn’t get to play any part in the event. I still remember how shocked I was at what happened in Munich, and my prayers will be renewed and reinforced this year.
  • I hope and pray that the weather holds up: after all, hundreds of thousands of people have spent hard-earned money in order to be there, and they deserve to have a good time.
  • I hope and pray that the local and national economy gets a real boost as a result, and that there are tangible, sustainable community benefits across the country as a result.

And I also hope and pray that the people who organise these things take a long hard look at what they’ve done to what should have been a glorious celebration of human beings showing their amateur athletic prowess on the world stage. Everyone may have meant well, but the collective outcome is somewhat short of desirable.

4 thoughts on “Why we didn’t have a S*mmer 2*12, and related issues”

  1. Very well said JP. At the core of the Olympic ideal is something beautiful and glorious. LOCOG and the IOC have taken this and wrapped in illiberal nonsense.

    As Rob Lyons said on Twitter “All of modern Britain’s bullshit, turned up to 11”.

  2. Well… the way The Oval test is going, you can get back to blaming the England Cricket team :-)

  3. JP, I agree with your sentiments, but I would add that the notion that Olympic competitors are amateur is very wide of the mark. They are clearly professional and heavily subsidised by nations in the interests of the medal table. I would have preferred that this competition had remained in the amateur world – alas, the train left the station, some time ago!

  4. In some contexts (such as customers based in London, where site locations need to be referenced in documents), I’ve already started to write document issue dates as (eg) “23rd July [copyright International Olympic Committee]”.

    I will be treating London as a no-go zone, for the duration (as will many of the people I work with); I know that many projects are on hold owing to the risk of engineers not being able to get to site in the event that something goes wrong, and others are having datacentre staff sleep in the datacentre. Many’s the time I’ve overheard comments to the effect “we can expect the worst disruption the City will have seen, since 1941”.

    The sooner it’s all over, the better.

Let me know what you think

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