Limited Liberties

There are moments in life when a piece of news, an action, an idea or just simply a word or two, when set amongst particular circumstances, can really get your blood boiling; metaphorical steam sprays from your ears and no matter how rational or irrational that moment is or how calm your persona, you just want to unleash some anger or dissatisfaction against it.

Last week an email from the 2012 London Olympic games ticketing system, resulted in me displaying the previously described blood boiling, teeth spitting moment – not literally of course.

Accepted, this is a moment where being humbly grateful to be attending such a grandiose moment of history should supercede any other driving emotion – and ultimately it does. However this doesn’t necessarily translate itself into appreciating all that the London Olympics invokes.

The boiling blood moment was as a result of reading through the restrictions I, as a spectator of the London Games, will be enforced to abide against.

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As an avid hobbyist of photography, the restrictions for Wembley are clear:

All cameras with interchangeable lenses are prohibited and will have to be surrendered and will not be returned as there are no storage facilities at the venue.

Photography is a huge market and hobby for so many. The photographic technical advances over the past years have seen the birth and rapid development of the Compact System Camera, a punchy DSLR camera in a compact design with interchangebale lenses. I’m currently a very happy user of two!

Moreover, these cameras have been widely used to produce high quality images for many a hobbyist – and that’s the point of frustration with Wembley and the restrictions stated for the Olympic Football.

Their restriction makes no allowances for the fact many individuals use high quality cameras to capture images for their own personal collections, with absolutely no intention to profit. It’s a hobby!

Culturally in the UK this is not a new issue and whilst the London Olympic restrictions claim such photographic items will hinder the views of others around you (yet a 2 metre flag doesn’t?). It’s within the realm of possibilities the guts of this issue pertains to the image rights of the competing Olympians and the protection offered to the official London Olympic photographers who will gather and provide image content in a regulated form.

On more occasions than I care to recall, I’ve been stopped at a turnside at a UK venue to have my non professional photographic kit inspected, with the debate of whether I can be permitted onto the premises. On one occasion at Lotfus Road for a Championship game, seven half-witted stewards gathered to question my entry, inanely puzzling over my simple kit. Unbeknown to them, whilst this lengthy debate took shape, I casually slipped through the turnstile – only to be enjoined minutes later by a wagging finger, stating not to use my camera or I’ll be ‘kicked out’ – a somewhat comical mentally I willingly ignored. 

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(Roy Keane captured at Loftus Road)

And here lies a problem for Wembley Stadium.

It’s conceivable to expect most stewards wouldn’t know a Compact for a Four Thirds, therefore refusing entry for particular camera kit becomes an unnecessary burden for a simple bureaucrat whose key job is to ensure seamless order at the turnstiles. So the measure and instruction is strictly defined; keep it simple – albeit unfair!

However, UK culture and approaches to cameras and events does not reflect the wider world. In Spain, Germany, South Africa for example my camera kit has passed stewards at turnstiles without a blink of an eye. And as Boris’ pre-recorded message tells us repeatedly at London Rail Stations:

London will be receiving a million visitors per day during the Olympics.

All coming from various different countries, bringing various different camera equipment, to capture various different moments of Their Olympics.

In addtion the UK, potentially for disunity reasons, the Olympic Football is regarded as a trivial event at this summers Olympics, but for the wider world this isn’t so. For some, like Brazil for example who can brag to be the world’s most famous football nation, the Olympic Football will be their principal event.

So with thousands of visitors from various countries arriving at Wembley with ‘professional’ looking camera kit to be used in a completely non professional manner, with such draconian measures set in place, how will Wembley handle this potential problem? In addition, with no storage facilities (as Wembley put it) in place, does this mean there’ll be incinerating the kit at the turnstiles in front of no doubt tearful visitors?

Smells a bit crap really!

Beyond camera equipment there are other eye raising restrictions set to be imposed. Feel free to have a read: Wembley Olympic Restrictions. for the forthcoming Olympic Games.