Samsung tells Olympians to cover their Apple logos during opening ceremony [Update]

As part of giving free devices to athletes, Samsung is insisting that no Apple logos appear during the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics. A sponsor for the games, Samsung gave athletes Galaxy Note 3 smartphones in their gift bags, with the condition that, even if they used an Apple device, the logo could not be displayed during the opening ceremonies. The Galaxy Note 3 is apparently the primary device being pushed by Samsung during the games, according to Slashgear:

Samsung is pushing the Note 3 hard at the Olympics, equipping what it's describing as its "Galaxy Team" athletes with the pen-enabled smartphone to demonstrate how their training and their trip abroad can be better documented.

It should be noted that these sorts of restrictions aren't uncommon. Companies pay a lot of money to sponsor teams at the Olympics, and they don't want their competitors advertised for free. Panasonic had just that very situation on their hands durning the 2012 Olympics in London, having given athletes free headphones, only to find that some of their sponsored teams openly wearing custom Beats headphones, violating their deal with Panasonic.

Are Samsung's restrictions are unreasonable, or do sponsors have the right to expect that their competitors won't get free advertising? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Update: It appears that athletes are allowed to display the logos of non-sponsored products. While there are specific rules against the mention of non-sponsored products by athletes during the games, the appearance of logos is an exception to the rule. The International Olympic Committee is still applying the rules normally, according to MacRumors:

No it is not true. Athletes can use any device they wish during the Opening Ceremony. The normal rules apply just as per previous Games.

While it is still possible that Samsung requested that athletes cover competitor's logos, athletes that don't will face no penalty from the IOC.

Source: MacRumors, Bluewin, via SlashGear

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.

  • I wouldn't sell out for a phone.
  • That's not selling out. It's part of the terms of participating. The Note III has a decent camera. Sure it's obvious corporate nonsense, but if you're in the Olympics, you've sold out many times over already to all kinds of sponsors.
  • If they cannot use the sponsors merchandise they need another sponsor.
    But no sponsor means no competition.
    Also you should really want to promote the company that gives you money, unless the company that you really want to use is going to be a bigger sponsor. I don't see Apple doing that. Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • HAHAHAHA "I wouldn't SELL OUT for a phone" What in the HELL are you SELLING OUT from? Your utter devotion to APPLE?? A freakin' LARGE and GREEDY corporation? Selling out from being a part of the very 'unique' and 'different' and 'hip' Apple carrying crowd (now about 1.2 billion unique, hip and different members)?!? Got to hand it to Apple, they run a great church!
  • Er, Google and Microsoft aren't large and greedy corporations? And, no offense, but only someone with an utter devotion to Google (or Microsoft) would criticize someone for having an utter devotion to Apple. Gotta hand it to Silicon Valley. Tech Fanboys are FIERCE.
  • +1 Sent from the iMore App
  • You need to get a grip. What corporation isn't greedy. Corporations exist to make money. You think Samsung giving away those Notes because they love the Winter Olympics. The aim in the end is money. And nothing isn't wrong with that. The comment may be overzealous but so is your little tirade. Sent from the iMore App
  • There restricitions are not reasonable. In the case of Samsung the only way I think that you could get the athletes to strictly use a company's product is to pay them. A athlete trains and and competes for spots on a team. They do no enter a agreement with each individual athlete. Give the athlete some money and plenty of samsung swag and I thin they could keep the fruit in their basket.
  • Easy solution, don't accept the "gift" note 3 if you want to use your iPhone.
  • If I were an athlete, why would I want to advertise an inferior product?
  • They are paying you money to do it.
  • Inferior to you, superior to me. To each their own, pal. Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • Inferior to most on this website, superior to mostly just you here. Sorry pal.
  • It would be superior if not for TouchWiz. Nexus4lyf
  • :)
  • This seems like a childish act of greed.
    Huge powerful corporations need to grow up.
  • You do realize that Apple is also a huge powerful corporation right?
  • Just think. A new Note 3 to sell later for the newest iPhone.
  • Assuming you can find someone to sell it to.
  • Exactly.
  • True, true. Some rebel may love the bling and it's origins. (Free crap for coming to a very cold place with bad cell coverage)
  • Gee, I'm so glad we didn't hand South Korea over to the North. Thrilled in fact.
  • WTH! But I guess this is the way business is being run these days.. but "shame"sung!
  • Or what? If they don't cover their apple logos Samsung will do what? Takes back the free device? Unlikely. That would look worse then seen an apple logo or two. Sent from the iMore App
  • This story all revolves around a very strict interpretation of Olympic Rule 40, which bans competitors from getting involved with advertising. The penally could involve withdrawal of accreditation, without which they couldn't compete. However this story has now become rather murky as both Samsung and the IOC are now denying that they would ask competitors to cover logos on non-Samsung devices.
  • They obviously chose the Note over the S4 because it will be bigger and more recognizable on camera
  • Apple should send stickers that just say Apple.
  • or how about stickers that read my other phone is an apple that go over the Samsung logo :) this way there is no apple logo but the msg is sent loud and clear to anyone watching the Olympic paying attention to what phones the athletes are using and not on them competing It would be real funny to see the athletes who did not agree and are still using apples win medals and the note users loose
  • Even better.
  • I'm sure the olympians have nothing better to do. This is probably weighing heavily on their minds.
  • To be fair had Apple been the sponsor for the olympics they'd probably be requesting the same thing in return.
  • +1
  • The thing is any company sponsoring the olympics does this. It isn't just all of the sudden Samsung doing it. More sensationalist click bait articles because it is samsung and apple.
  • Frankly, its bullshit and when I see one brand being used by everyone for a event is sponsored ya know what I think, they are only using it because they were a sponsor. I'm not going to go "gee, look at how popular that is, and all the athletes seems to like using it". Is/did Samsung make any of the spectators do this also?
  • Exactly! I wouldn't want Apple to try this BS. Samsung's claim is "The Next Big Thing" but they can't seem to move product without spending a fortune in advertising and celebrity endorsements and other crap like this. The sad reality is Samsung uses the same OS as HTC, Moto and soon Lenovo. They understand as much as any that they are not sustainable. Those that want the most success control the hardware and the software.
  • Well this is very arguable, especially considering that Android is now running on 80% of the world's smartphones. Samsung is extremely successful. And if you honestly believe that Apple doesn't pay a fortune in advertising and celebrity endorsements as well you're in for a rude awakening.
  • FYI, 80 % of quasi-smartphones + smartphones, NOT 80 % of smartphones (and for what it’s worth, installed base is a lot more meaningful a metric than sales marketshare;) And secondly, it is fairly recognized among marketing analysts that Samsung has a fourfold marketing budget in comparison with their competitors. So if Samsung is spending a fortune, than Apple is paying roughly a fourth of a fortune.
  • I'm awake but I'm feeling just fine. Look at this chart showing advertising budgets. . Whatever money Samsung makes from the high end is eaten up by their huge advertising budget.
  • SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!! Lol!!
  • i wouldn't partake in any of that nonsense. The athletes are there to do one thing, compete, not advertise. I would've pulled the phone out of the bag and smashed it on the ground.
  • Seems reasonable enough to me. Pocket the Note 3, put a sticker of an American flag over the Apple logo on your iPhone, and be on your way. It's not like Samsung is asking them to name their first child "Galaxy" or anything. They paid millions for the right to advertise, let them have at it. Moderately tech-savvy people will recognize the difference between the two devices whether or not the logo is visible anyway... and if they don't, shame on them :)
  • IOC denied this is true:
  • Also Apple could make a great commercial out of this just recycle the old super bowl commercial for their mac with all the sponsored athletes marching with there note 3's in black and white then an attractive female athlete jogs along with her iPhone 6 or just pay to start a flash mob with apple logos all over the place in the camera view
  • Naw...even for Apple that would be low class LOL!
  • Doesn't seem to be unreasonable. For those saying that the athletes are there to compete, not to advertise, ask the athlete how they got there without sponsors.
  • Michael Jordan covered up the reebok logo with the American flag during the medal ceremony after the Dream Team won gold during the Barcelona games in 1992. Sent from the iMore App
  • very generous of Samsung to give away all those Note 3 phones. IMO the Note 3 is the best Smartphone to date.
  • Think it would be hard to control and stop that. Plus it's not realistic to see people that are not using an iPhone. Glad to see this is not true! Sent from the iMore App
  • Presumably it's easy enough to put a case on the old phone. Reasonable enough request by a sponsor.
  • Sponsoring the ceremony means that you are essentially in a samsung advertisement. That's got to be a trainload of cash.
  • ...and Altos, Coca-Cola, Dow, Visa, P&G, etc...
  • Absolute BS...they did not specify iPhone, but all competitor phone...and they requested this on the condition that they get the Note 3 such as their right to request given they are the official Phone sponsor of the the fact there was no mention that Samsung did not request anyone to not use said competitor devices at it right or not at all...Flipping bloggers...far and few in between that are of any use...
  • In the end the story makes Samsung look petty, right or wrong. As a sponsor I think the request is fine. They are not barring the athlete from using the devices or showing the logo personally. Just while they are in the public eye at the games. Sent from the iMore App
  • Honestly, if I was an athlete, I wouldn't do it, that note 3 would stay in the box they gave to me. Regardless of the money, I'm an athlete not an employee for samsung, samsung isn't the only sponsor these athletes are getting money from. If I don't like the phone, i'm not gonna show it off like I do, i'd be all in the cameras with my iPhone 5s lol.
  • Athletes need to pay their bill too you know. Where do you think they get their money? Charity? No, from sponsors. If they chose to not adhere to the contracts they signed, it could lead to some unfortunate problems with their own cash inflow.
  • Samsung's shilling out a lot of money as a major advertiser for this Winter Olympics. Which also includes dolling out new tablets for many athletes.It's a fair thing for Samsung to ask as they are sponsoring. Apple is the type of company that won't be bothered by this. Apple & Samsung also complaining for their logo too. Check out here, How The Samsung Logo Was Born :