updated 02:47 pm EST, Thu February 6, 2014
Athletes still blocked from mentioning non-sponsoring brands
Contrary to earlier reports, athletes will be free to use any phone they want to during the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, the International Olympic Committee says. Yesterday, reports indicated Samsung was asking athletes to cover the logos on devices made by competitors -- such as the Apple logos on iPhones -- as a condition of getting the free Galaxy Note 3 included with this year's gift bags. Today, however, an IOC spokesperson says that the claims are "not true," and that the "normal rules apply just as per previous Games."
"The Samsung Note 3[s] that were distributed are a gift to the athletes, so they can capture and share their experiences at the Games, and the phones also contain important competition and logistical information for competing athletes," the representative adds.
Still in effect is Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter, which bans athletes from mentioning non-sponsoring brands. There is however a specific exemption allowing people to have logos on clothing or equipment, so long as it covers less than 10 percent of the product's surface area. Devices like the iPhone should fall under this protection.