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January 6, 2010 at 5:32 PM

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New VANOC edict: Step away from the BlackBerry

Posted by Ron Judd

From the Canadian Press comes this delicious talker: Staff members at the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC), who, like most busy professionals, are in love with their BlackBerries, reportedly are being forced to hand them over before the Olympics begin.

It's not part of some Luddite revolution. It's a sponsorship tangle: The Olympics, as you know, are all about exclusivity. And the official tele-geek equipment provider for the 2010 Games is Samsung. Research In Motion, the maker of the ubiquitous BlackBerry, is nowhere on the sponsorship list.

How bad would it look if VANOC staffers were running around operating the Games with someone else's phone? Especially when your official sponsor is shipping 9,200 of their own to B.C. just for that purpose?

Only problem: Nobody reportedly likes the Samsung facsimiles, the Omnia or the Vice (are we the only ones who have never heard of either?) because, well, they're not good at certain things, including sending and receiving e-mail on the fly.

CP reports that some staffers have been told they can secretly keep their BlackBerries. Those Chosen Few, no doubt, will be the ones skulking around in dark corners, sneaking a BlackBerry hit on a device with electrical tape over its brand name -- and, no doubt, slurping a PEPSI and scarfing on a WHOPPER JUNIOR at the same time (the official Olympic brands being Coke and McDonald's.)

Nice situational ethics on that one by VANOC, by the way. You think they'd make a quiet deal to accommodate someone outside their offices who had a problem with sponsor exclusivity? The Olympics are, after all, the only place that won't even take your money unless you use the proper, sponsor credit card (hint: it's not a MASTERCARD or AMERICAN EXPRESS or DISCOVER).

We smell potential disaster here. VANOC has the only Olympic headquarters we've ever seen where you practically have to have a security card to get into and out of the bathroom. What if somebody flushes their pass and has to do a full MacGyver workaround to send out a rescue e-mail on a worthless Samsung Vice?

It could take hours -- hours that could be better spent harassing some hapless local business with "Olympic" in its name, or disciplining an employee for wearing REEBOKS.

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Blog roll and links The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information. Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
NBC Olympics columnist Alan Abrahamson's column/blog
Chicago Tribune Olympic sports writer Philip Hersh's blog U.S. Olympic Committee's athlete web site. Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription). News service with audio, video and text coverage of Olympic sports, during and between Olympics. Free, but charges for live video feed subscriptions. Beijing Organizing Committee Web site. Vancouver Organizing Committee's 2010 Winter Games site. London 2012 Summer Games site. Sochi, Russia's 2014 Winter Games site. Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
Bellevue Olympian Scott Macartney's WCSN alpine ski-racing blog
Other WCSN Olympic athlete blogs.