If you live or work near an Olympic venue, as some of us do, Games time may force additional restrictions on your life. Plans are afoot to set up exclusion zones around each venue, be that the Olympic Park, the coastline of Weymouth or the entire Marathon route. But these aren't security zones or police cordons, these are proposed areas of commercial quarantine. There'll be no street trading and no unofficial outdoor advertising in these areas come 2012, at least on event days, if these proposals go through. Which of course they will.
Street trading Selling goods or services on the street, in any public space or from a private property (such as a driveway) won't be possible without approval. We'll contact licensed street traders to see if we can give approval or help relocate trading temporarily.
Want to sell pink cowboy hats and whistles in Trafalgar Square during the beach volleyball? Think again. Planning a garage sale overlooking the Royal Victoria Dock in August 2012. Not allowed. Want to sell coffee on the plaza outside Stratford station? Not during the Olympics you don't. For a start you'd be getting in the way of spectators and tourists, obstructing the pavement and creating congestion. And for another, you'd not be selling products from official authorised sponsors. Would never do, so will not happen.
Outdoor advertising Outdoor advertising will not be allowed unless specifically exempt or authorised. Exemptions include ordinary shop signs and related advertising.
The most serious clampdown will be on advertising within the restricted zones. No problem if you're an existing shop - you won't be asked to cover your name or whitewash your windows. No problem if there's a brandname written into the brickwork on your wall - that can stay. And nothing to stop announcements for church jumble sales, adverts on the sides of buses or posters promoting council services. But don't think of flyposting a club night on a lamppost, or hanging a charity banner across your street, or flying an airship over central London saying "Burger King rule". Every poster site or billboard within the restricted zone will be reserved for use by official Olympic sponsors, so it'll be McDonalds, Toyota, Panasonic and friends all the way. To be honest that's very similar to the current restrictedselection of companies you'll find paraded in and around the O2, but these 2012 regulations will be covering a much wider area.
The area where these restrictions will apply the longest - 35 days in total - is the zone around the perimeter of the Olympic Park. In some places the Event Zone is very narrow, for example with much of the southern side of Stratford High Street being exempt. But in other places the Event Zone stretches out unexpectedly far, trapping unsuspecting residential backstreets within its grasp. That's most of Hackney Wick, the entire eastern edge of Bow, the superstores at Leyton, even a finger sticking out beyond West Ham tube station. This → advertising sign for "Coffee Corner" by the Bow flyover will have to go, concealing the independent cafe from passing Olympic footfall. Every poster across the new Westfield shopping mall will have to be taken by approved (but not-necessarily resident) businesses. And if I try flogging cupcakes from my front doorstep, I could face prosecution. Best not, then.
Some intriguingly specific advertising opportunities are barred. • Displaying, projecting or exhibiting any kind of advertisement, whether it is of a commercial or non-commercial nature • Carrying or holding an advertisement or something on which an advertisement is displayed • Displaying an advertisement on an animal • Wearing a costume that is an advertisement or clothing on which an advertisement is displayed as part of an ambush marketing campaign • Distributing or providing a document or article for the purposes of promotion, advertisement, announcement or direction
Ambush marketing is a particular worry for the Olympic organisers. They've gone to great pains to woo major sponsors and bring in hundreds of millions of pounds of much needed cash, so the last thing they want to see is a competitor hijacking media attention by projecting a promotional video onto the back of a goat, or whatever. These Games will be on-message at all times, or else. There'll even be a ‘Look and Feel’ programme consisting of building wraps, lighting, flags and banners, to ensure the creation of "a backdrop fit for celebration on a truly global scale". That clock in Trafalgar Square is only the start.
As I say, these zones and restrictions are merely proposals at the moment, with public consultation lasting until the end of May. And rest assured that the restricted zones are smaller than were seen in Sydney or Beijing, or in South Africa for the World Cup last year. But they'll be introduced anyway, whatever the outcome of the consultation. And if there's something you don't like, or if your home or business might be affected, don't say you weren't warned.
Olympic update: As of this afternoon, the OlympicStadium is structurally complete. You can flick through 3½ years of construction here.