From the moment it was revealed, the London 2012 Olympics Logo has not exactly been what one would call “popular.” But up until now, its only offense had been its sheer ugliness.
The latest charge: It’s racist.
Late last week, the head of the Iranian National Olympic Committee, Mohammad Aliabadi, insisted that the logo secretly spelled “Zion” and was inherently racist against Muslim countries.
In a letter to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge, Aliabadi stated that “Unfortunately, we all are witnessing that the upcoming Olympics … faces a serious challenge, definitely spawned out of some people’s racist spirit. The use of the word Zion by the designer of Olympics logo ….in the emblem of the Olympic Games 2012 is a very revolting act.”
He went on to threaten a boycott unless the logo is changed, saying, “There is no doubt that negligence of the issue from your side may affect the presence of some countries in the games, especially Iran, which abides by commitment to values and principles.”
The IOC and the Olympic Organizers are having none of it. In a brief response, IOC President Jacques Rogge outright rejected Iran’s claims, stating “The IOC’s response is quite clear. The logo of London means the London 2012 Olympics, nothing less and nothing more.”
Given that the logo was launched in 2007, the complaint seems overly late – not to mention utterly futile. The logo has been used extensively worldwide to promote the Games, and would be essentially impossible to recall, even if the complaints were valid – which, according to my eyes, they are not.
The logo can be found guilty of any number of sins, but racism? Certainly, if one wanted to disassemble and manipulate the logo you could probably make it resemble the word “Zion.” I could also make it resemble the word “Noiz,” which could be seen as a hidden tribute to bad 80s metal bands.
So while racism in all of its forms is to be avoided, the London 2012 logo appears, in this case, to be guilty of nothing except ugliness.