Trending: That's not my name!

Confused by weird new venues and odd-sounding drinks? Don't panic: it's all an Olympic exercise in making over non-sponsors. Simon Usborne reports

Click to follow
The Independent Online

It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for O2, the mobile phone people. Almost. Sports fans and corporate types who could be bothered must have wondered if London had been given a last-minute new venue to add to the stadium, the velodrome and the aquatics centre. The gymnastics were playing out yesterday at the North Greenwich Arena? Where?

Don't adjust your satnavs. The venue is the O2 Arena, of course, formerly known as a white elephant (and the Millennium Dome before that) but stripped of its name as part of a quiet debranding operation instigated by Games organisers according to International Olympic Committee rules on branding. When it comes to companies, if you ain't on the list (of official sponsors) you ain't coming in.

Ricoh, of photocopier fame, will get no Olympic return on its £10m investment in the Ricoh Arena. The venue has been renamed the City of Coventry Stadium for as long as it hosts Olympic football matches, but can be found more or less in the position it occupied before the Games.

In the spirit of not letting the little guys get any benefit from the greatest show on earth, smaller firms, too, have seen their names erased from venues. Lovair, a Cheshire-based bathroom fittings firm, proudly stated on its website last year that it had won the contract to supply its Air Fury C1 high speed hand dryers to the Olympic Stadium. But you wouldn't know: The logos have reportedly been taped over.

You heard about the ban on non-McDonald's fries or chips in the Olympic Park (you can have potato balls at Wembley, at least) but there doesn't need to be competition for brands to be disappeared from venues. It's never Pimm's O'Clock at Wimbledon anymore, where thirsty tennis fans must ask instead for a "No. 1 Cup" (which sounds like something you'd need if you were caught short before you could get to an Air Fury-free bathroom).

Beer that isn't from sponsors Heineken is "ale" and Trending can report that at the official press centre at the Olympic Park, journalists in search of illicit snacks must source contraband Pringles under the counter at the bar. "They're under here mate," the barman apparently says. "But we can't display them for obvious reasons."