Mark Bridge writes:
“It’s political correctness gone mad, innit?” The terms and conditions for booking tickets to the London 2012 Olympic Games include a warning that certain items are banned. Food, flasks of drink, umbrellas, musical instruments and mobile phones are all on the prohibited list.
Ban on mobile phones, picnics and music in London's 'fun' Olympics, said The Telegraph. Other similar headlines spotted elsewhere included Mobile phones, picnics and music banned at London Olympics and London Olympics organisers ban mobile phones. Grumble, grumble, grumble.
Except things aren’t as clear-cut as those headlines suggest. The London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) says it’s concerned about athletes being disturbed. I’d certainly like to think the competitors won’t be distracted by the Crazy Frog or a Justin Bieber ringtone when throwing javelins around.
And, let’s face it, the Vue cinema chain already bans camera-equipped mobile phones. Wimbledon insists on no mobile phone usage during tennis matches. The Football League has gone as far as blocking mobile video footage of soccer games. And most sporting and entertainment venues have a blanket policy that outlaws smartphones by saying “no cameras” or “no recording equipment”. Even The O2 - surely a mobile-friendly venue if ever there was one - threatens to confiscate your camera (and may even want you to remove your sunglasses!)
I accept that several thousand words of terms and conditions don’t give the impression of friendliness towards ticket buyers. But I don’t believe for a moment that mobiles will be banned from every Olympic event. To start with, even The Telegraph notes that “the mobile phone ban is likely to be enforced only in venues where silence is required during the event”. And, from a logistics perspective, there simply isn’t time to search everyone when they arrive. Of course, being caught using your mobile phone is another matter completely…