Friday, August 13, 2004

A matter of property rights?

Some blogs have reported on this story:

“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.“

“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.”

I find this puzzling, because the Olympic stadiums and other Olympic venues are publicly funded. That would naturally mean that the same stadiums and venues are also owned by the public and Greek law applies to them. To me it looks like banning “T-shirts, hats and bags” violates freedom of speech. Even though the Greek law probably have made restrictions already when it comes to freedom of speech, I would be much surprised if IOC’s ruling in this case not denies too much.

The same kind of argument can be made against banning certain refreshments. The law might ban (I don’t know if this is the case in Greece) the use of certain kinds of beverages in public, alcohol for instance. But I can’t imagine that a ban on Pepsi complies with the law. And certainly not while allowing Coca-Cola at the same time.

Perhaps one can argue that since the Greek government endorsed Athens application to host the Olympic Games (and also have paid for the OG) that they also agree on the Olympic Charter (the topic of this post is rule 61). But that seems to be a too easy a way to overrule the human rights, another road to serfdom that is.