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02 March 2011

Iran Claims London 2012 Olympics Logo Spells 'Zion'



The News:

The Iranian government filed a formal complaint to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) about the London 2012 Olympics logo, stating that it spells the word ‘Zion’. Although the term ‘Zion’ has a variety of different connotations, it is widely used to refer to the historic land of Israel and used as a symbol of the Jewish people.

According to the Iranian Students News Agency, Teheran has threatened to boycott the Olympics if the design of the logo remains and has demanded that it is replaced.

Behind the News:

The complaint of the Iranian government is not the first of its kind. Since the logo was launched four years ago it has provoked considerable criticism. Not only did a public poll conducted by the BBC show that 80% of voters gave the logo the lowest possible rating, it has also been compared to a swastika and two people making love.

Logos, especially those using abstract graphics, can be subject to a variety of different interpretations and run the risk of being misperceived by people coming from different cultural backgrounds. This was also previously experienced by the fast food chain Burger King when the company had to withdraw one of its campaigns showing ice cream rotating on its side after it was stated that the logo is a resemblance of the Arabic word for God and understood as blasphemy. Burger King reacted immediately and launched a new logo. An official statement by a spokesman of the IOC which was made earlier this week – stating that the IOC received the complaint but insists that the logo solely symbolizes the year 2012 – suggests that it is unlikely that the graphic will be replaced.

Although there is no doubt that our cultural and historical backgrounds determine our worldviews and perceptions, it is equally important to take political agendas into consideration when dealing with cultural sensitive topics.



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