Hula Report - Banned from the Games, Clueless Drivers, Rio Pains

(ATR) The most commonly banned substance at the 2012 Olympics carries the logo of the London Games. ATR’s Ed Hula offers these musings from the Olympic City....

The most commonly banned substance at the 2012 Olympics carries the logo of the London Games.

Schweppes Abbey Well may indeed be LOCOG’s official water, but bottles of the drink cannot pass through security at venues unless empty. Admittedly, no beverages are allowed past the screening, including other products of bottled beverage sponsor Coca-Cola. But it seems to test the credulity of Olympic security to banish innocuous, inert beverages such as water.

Did Coca-Cola Schweppes understand how much of a risk the stuff would be to the London Olympics? With long lines of people at fountains in the Olympic Park filling their empty containers, Abbey Well is really the official water bottle of the London Games.

Where are you going? Those who look with disdain on the transport privileges enjoyed by the IOC will be happy to hear the drivers of the BMWs that ply the Olympic lanes often do not know the way. That’s because some of the volunteer drivers are from other parts of the U.K., not London. We hear stories of IOC members being treated to 90-minute tours of the city for journeys that are supposed to last one-third that time.

Rio de Janeiro, which won its bid for the 2016 Olympics with a powerful message, seems to have lost its mojo for communication. Already under fire from the IOC for falling behind in preparations for the Games, international media relations are now suspect.

A press conference organized a few days ago for the four-year mark to the Games was poorly handled, especially from a city about to host the Games. It started 30 minutes late. Rio 2016 chief Carlos Nuzman was billed as one of the presenters, but he was off tending to his duties as Brazilian Olympic Committee president.

That left chief exec Leo Gryner and comms chief Carlos Villanova to handle the press conference while Mayor Eduardo Paes and Rio Olympic corporation chief Maria Silva joined briefly by video from Brazil. While all have command of English, only Portuguese was spoken, fine for the sizable Brazilian press corps. But the dozen-plus international reporters struggled to make sense of the obtuse, elliptical translation coming out of the earphones.

Written questions were taken in advance, leaving the internationals to wait 30 minutes for the chance to pipe up, only after organizers realized that the non-Brazilian press corps had been left out. And even those questions in English were answered in Portuguese.

The road to Rio may be as tortured as rush-hour traffic in the Cidade Maravilhosa.

Written in London by Ed Hula.