Much in the same way that the swastika went from being a religious symbol to being a Nazi one, the official olympic salute with extended arm stopped being used after WWII because it resembled the ‘Hitler greeting’.
That being said, the statue by The Hague sculptor Gra Hueb at Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium was inaugurated in 1928 for the Olympic Games in Amsterdam and had nothing to do with the Nazis. It was placed in honour of Baron Van Tuyll van Serooskerken, the first chairman of the Dutch Olympic Committee who successfully brought the Games to the Netherlands. The stadium is not too far from 24 Oranges HQ and is still in use.
As a sign of the times – for better or worse – historians and the Olympic Stadium folks decided to remove it and place it somewhere else in the stadium instead of prominently at the entrance.
Dutch company Tempting Brands from Veenendaal, Utrecht and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are embroiled in a conflict over who has the right to use the name Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the ICO and often considered the father of the modern Olympic Games.
In 2007, the IOC secured ‘Coubertin’ from the European Union Intellectual Property Office, but according to Tempting Brands, they can trademark it because the IOC failed to use it for five years. The Veenendaal company also uses the name of the iconic US Route 66, ‘Marie Antoinette’ and others.
French lawyer Fabienne Fajgenbaum, an intellectual property specialist fighting for the IOC, argues that Tempting Brands has simply grabbed the Coubertin name just to rent it out, rather than providing any added value, which could give the French a win. She already managed to stop a French company from selling wine bottles branded with a picture of the Olympic founder during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
In the other corner, Dutch intellectual property lawyer Tjeerd Overdijk explains that in the Netherlands, it would be difficult to challenge the trademark filing, as it depends on the product. He has successfully defended a company that secured the rights to Vincent van Gogh’s brand, despite a legal challenge from the foundation named after the Dutch painter.
After the ridiculous comments made by American commentator Katie Couric about the Dutch dominance in speed skating being the result of skating everywhere in the winter as a mode of transport and after apologising, but only after she received, as the Dutch would say, ‘buckets of shit poured over her’, it’s probably a good idea to find out how this dominance began.
Another rookie mistake made by Couric was equating Amsterdam with the Netherlands, something that grates more than a cheese grater at a Dutch breakfast table. Most Dutch skaters, if not all of them, come from villages nowhere near Amsterdam, often in the province of Friesland where people speak Frisian as well as Dutch.
Trigger warning: people used to skate on frozen canals back in the day, but due to milder winters, canals freeze less often, so people skate indoors. And yes, this woman is trying her best to pronounce Dutch names, but ‘Koen’ is ‘Koon’, not ‘Ko-en’ and I don’t understand how we got ‘Irene Worst’ out of ‘Ireen Wüst’ (more like ‘E-rain Woost’) or Netherlands (‘lands’ should be ‘lunds’).
In less than a week your TV set will start displaying the Winter Olympics on most channels and what you will see of the host town (Sochi, Russia) will very likely be a sanitized version.
If you want to see another side of Sochi, you could visit the photo exhibit The Sochi Project by Dutch photographer Rob Hornstra whose photos are provided a with context by Arnold van Bruggen’s texts. The exhibit currently runs in Antwerp, Belgium; Chicago, USA; and Salzburg, Austria. There are also books, websites, posters and so on. In fact, if I can utter a small point of criticism about Hornstra’s and Van Bruggen’s Russian projects, it would be that it is never quite clear what you’ve seen already and what fits where.
Last week I went to the Golden Years photo expo in Huis Marseille, Amsterdam, by the same two artists in which you also get to see photos of The Sochi Project. What struck me the most were the photos of people who proudly posed in their medal-bedecked, Soviet-era uniforms. It wasn’t clear whether they did so out of longing for the old days or because the uniforms were their good clothes or because of reasons I did not fathom, but it seemed a statement regardless. (Shown here is Mikhail Yefremovich Zetunyan, age 88 who lives in a village where 75% of the population was driven out by what I presume were Abkhazian freedom fighters.)
Van Bruggen writes about the impoverished side of Russia: “Here, in the neighbourhoods abandoned by the police, is where the other half live. They are the dark side of the success stories that filled the newspapers after Putin came to power. Maserati dealers in the centre of Moscow do not prove a country’s wealth; look, rather, at its provincial suburbs.”
The Volkskrant estimated that the Netherlands would be allocated some 100,000 tickets for the Olympic Games in London 2012, but apparently they are only up for grabs if you’re a card carrying Dutch person.
Non-Dutch Europeans in the Netherlands who want to buy tickets for the Olympic Games in London will have to pay by Visa card because the Dutch ticket allocation is only for Dutch nationals, the Volkskrant reports on Wednesday. The Dutch selling agent is only allowed to sell cards to Dutch nationals, and will charge them a 23.8% booking fee on top of the price of a ticket.
All ‘third party nationals’, a fancy term for non European, are obliged to buy tickets from the agents of their country.
Both events are about as old, but the Elfstedentocht is held on average every seven years, when conditions in Friesland are harsh enough to freeze over 200 kilometres’ worth of canals. On the list of strong sports brands, the Olympics only get a peek in at three, after the Elfstedentocht and football goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.
The Olympic athletes arrived home today, and they were given a warm welcome at the 1928 Olympic stadium in Amsterdam. I live right around the corner, and decided to take my crummy old digital camera there. As luck would have it, the organizers had decided that the athletes would enter through the front gate, where there is ample opportunity for non-accredited press (i.e. l’il ole me) to climb onto flowerbeds and the pedestals of pompous statues.
Below you see Anky van Grunsven (gold, dressage) being interviewed by famous sports presenter Tom Egberts. It was very hard to get a photo of her not grinning like a maniac, but here she had to be serious for a moment. She was one of the first there, and being a gold medal winner had to wait until the end to enter the stadium, and she was all smiles all the time.
There is no honourable way of putting this: the Mayor of Haarlem is, er, not very well informed. Bernt Schneiders has fallen into the old trap of thinking the Dutch really invented book printing and played Dutch uncle to the Chinese for making what he thinks is a mistake during the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games when they claimed that book printing is a Chinese invention. Schneiders wrote a letter to the Mayor of Beijing, Wang Qisham resolutely pointing out that Haarlem’s Laurens Janszoon Coster invented book printing in 1400, which according to Schneiders is “a well-known fact”. Diplomacy as well as history is obviously not his forte.
No one really knows who invented book printing and where, and although Coster had some role to play, so did the Flemish Dirk Martens and Germany’s much more productive Johann Gutenberg. Even prominent Dutch linguist Marc van Oostendorp wrote in an article about naming book projects in Europe that people acted “as if China did not exist.” Oostendorp adds that “until the 19th century, it was purely nationalist Dutch thinking to suppose that Laurens Janszoon Coster was the inventor of book printing and that Gutenberg stole his idea.” He also wrote that “as far as we know today nobody believes in this theory anymore. There is even doubt as to whether Coster even lived in Haarlem”. Ouch.