News : Controversy over mini-Minis at Olympic athletics

By Eurosport | London Spy

MINIs are proving useful at London 2012... but...
MINIs are proving useful at London 2012… but…

Fans at the Olympics have been chuckling at the sight of the miniature radio-controlled Minis which are being used to help out officials at the athletics. The cars have been used to return javelins, discuses and hammers to competitors in the field events at London 2012, saving time and effort for all involved and adding a light-hearted element to the serious business at hand.

But the remote-controlled cars whizzing around the athletics stadium have triggered branding questions. The Olympic venues at the London Games are supposed to be strictly ad-free, but the use of the distinctive cars appears to be blatant advertising. The International Olympic Committee ensures adverts or logos of products are not visible in the fields of play in line with its Olympic Charter despite sponsors paying hundreds of millions of dollars to be associated with the Games.

The Minis, made by German car manufacturer BMW who is also a Games sponsor, may not carry visible logos but are instantly recognisable for what they are. However, they are not the iconic British-owned Minis produced from 1959-2000 but the new type produced by BMW. ‘There is no commercial reason (behind choosing Minis),’ said Timo Lumme, the IOC’s director of TV and marketing services, when asked if branding rules were being broken.

He said the choice as transporters for the athletes’ equipment was not dictated by a commercial decision. Since the start of the athletics competitions last week, the Minis have instantly become a point of discussion with their use inside the stadium raising the questions of whether the IOC was indirectly relaxing its own strict ad rules.

He said the International Association of Athletics Federations, responsible for the track and field competitions at the Olympics, had cleared the use of the small vehicles. ‘IAAF validates several different transporters. Yes, it happens to be the official partner of the London Games but there is no commercial delivery,’ he told a news conference.

‘There is no link between the sponsorship and the coverage of the physical fact that these are mini Minis on the field of play,’ Lumme said. The IOC’s rule on advertising states that no form of advertising or other publicity shall be allowed in and above the stadia, venues and other competition areas which are considered as part of the Olympic sites.

Commercial installations and advertising signs are not be allowed in the stadia, venues or other sports grounds. There are three of these vehicles in total. Each puts in four-hour shifts across nine days of athletics competition, covering six kilometres per day. The Mini also featured in the Games opening ceremony but again it was the new version and not the one symbolising iconic British post-war design.

‘The bottom line is that the producer showed an individual quirkiness, a fantastically entertaining take on British history,’ said Lumme of the car’s presence in the opening ceremony. ‘The Mini is an incredibly known globally, British icon. Again Rule 50 compliant. No logos,’ he said.

The London Games have received some £700m from sponsors wishing to be associated with the 2012 Olympics.

MINIs are proving useful at London 2012... but...
MINIs are proving useful at London 2012… but…

Eurosport / Reuters

Keith Adams


  1. No logos in the arena?

    For all LOCOG and the IOC have conspired to make the concept of the Olympics rather unpleasant commercially and politically, the athletes and events, and the opening ceremony, have eclipsed those organisations spectacularly. I really am not a sports fan, and enjoyed watching several competitions and hoping Team GB would win!

    Quite like those mini MINIs, too!

  2. No brand names on the push-bikes then, or the bmw tow vehicles for the horses(boxes) or the bmws that followed the road racing? That wouldn’t be Adidas that supply the shirts for the officials loading up the mini-MINIs.

  3. A bit of harmless fun, and what better car ! 🙂 any Mini is it (even if its only got 4 seat belts)alex

  4. I don’t care if they were crafted by the light of the silvery moon by fairies from the freely donated toenails of unicorns and are powered by the breath of dragons, they are clearly there to advertise Binis, and therefore have no place at the Olympics.

  5. As I said on the other story:


    “Closer to the size of the original Mini than the MINI”

    “Wot? No German plates?”

    “Estate agents can use to ferry keys”

    etc. etc.

  6. Videos of the Olympic MiniMINI’s in action:

    “Three Mini MINIs will be deployed for this crucial task and will be operated by Games Makers assigned and trained for this duty. The cars are roughly a quarter scale of the full-sized car and carry the athletic equipment situated inside, accessible through the adapted sunroof. The Mini MINIs are all blue and feature the same Games livery as the ‘full-size’ official fleet vehicles.

    “The MINI team was thrilled to be given this challenge to develop a vehicle with such an important and high profile role during the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” commented Dr Juergen Hedrich, Managing Director of MINI Plant Oxford. “I know that everybody was inspired by the challenge and the knowledge that these models will be seen in action by millions of people around the world.”

    The cars were designed and built to a specification agreed with LOCOG to ensure their role on the field of play is successful in saving time during competition. Each of the three Mini MINIs will cover around 6,000 metres per day in four-hour shifts across nine days of Olympic and nine days of Paralympic competition. The Mini MINIs will:

    Carry a load of up to 8kg; a single hammer, discus or shot or two javelins. Be operated with a simple control system requiring minimum technical support. Be powered by batteries that can sustain 35 minutes of continuous usage with a radio control range of approximately 100 metres and be fully re-charged in 80 minutes.”

  7. The Olympics is one great big load of corporate Bull**** to be honest. Coca-Cola, Muck Donalds & BMW all have their noses in the trough, and the IOC will very likely be getting juicy kickbacks from it all. And look at all that adverising Lloyds TSB got on the torch parade, along with BM, and Coke!

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