Wealthy London boroughs paid less for Olympic Torch Relay – investigation

Image attribution: Angryoffinchley

Image: Angryoffinchley

London boroughs with the poorest populations paid more to host Olympic Torch Relay events, while more affluent boroughs spent nothing, according to an investigation by Help Me Investigation users.

Waltham Forest spent over £250,000 whereas Westminster incurred no costs.

Government data shows that Westminster has more than six times the number of active businesses compared with Waltham Forest, despite having a smaller population. Continue reading

The experience of the torchbearer – and the executives who carried the Olympic torch on just one day – 8,000 Holes part 5

Get the free ebook for the full story: 8,000 Holes: How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Lost its Way - Leanpub.com/8000holes

In the final part of the serialisation of Help Me Investigate’s first ebook – 8,000 Holes: How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Lost its Way we look at how the story affected one inspirational individual who did carry the torch – and the executives who carried the torch on the day the torch passed through Jack Binstead’s borough. You can download the book for free – or choose to pay a donation, with all proceeds going to the Brittle Bone Society – at Leanpub.com/8000holes

Part 5: 8,000 Holes

In June 2011, when the design for the official Olympic torch was unveiled, the Chair of LOCOG Sebastian Coe had said:

“The Torch that carries the Olympic Flame during the Olympic Torch Relay is one of the most recognisable and significant symbols of an Olympic Games. Members of the public right across the UK are busy nominating inspiring people to be Torchbearers and I am thrilled we have a beautifully designed, engineered and crafted Torch for them to carry.

“Integral to the design are the 8,000 circles, a lasting representation of the Torchbearer stories of personal achievement or contribution to their local community that will be showcased with every step of the Relay.”

But too many of those 8,000 circles turned out to be merely holes where local heroes should have been. The “message of inclusion” which the torch was supposed to represent had been replaced with a repeated message of exclusion. At almost every point where places were split up, a proportion was siphoned for allocation through non-public processes, whether the 15% of Lloyds TSB places for staff; the 10% of Samsung’s places; Coca Cola’s nomination judges carrying the torch as Future Flames, or the corporate partners who rewarded board members and business partners. Continue reading

The 21% of torchbearer places that were allocated outside of public campaigns: 8,000 Holes Part 4

Get the free ebook for the full story: 8,000 Holes: How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Lost its Way - Leanpub.com/8000holes

In the fourth part of a serialisation of Help Me Investigate’s first ebook – 8,000 Holes: How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Lost its Way we look at what happened to the thousands of torchbearer places that were allocated outside of public campaigns. You can download the book for free – or choose to pay a donation, with all proceeds going to the Brittle Bone Society – at Leanpub.com/8000holes

Part 4: The 21%

Between December 2011 and June 2012 the numbers of torchbearer places being awarded by bodies other than the Presenting Partners and LOCOG increased by a third. The International Olympic Committee‘s share of places saw the biggest change, going up by half – from 71 according to a December press release to 117 six months later, while commercial partners other than the three presenting partners – dozens of companies including Dow Chemical, G4S, Atos and BT – saw their share go up from 678 places to 913. Continue reading

Infographic: Where did the Olympic torch relay places go? What we know

Infographic: Where did the Olympic torch relay places go? What we know so far

Infographic by @carolinebeavon

An allocation of how the 8,000 Olympic torchbearer places were allocated has found that just 71% were allocated through the four main public campaigns.

The figure – published in the ebook 8,000 Holes – casts doubt on the promise by organisers LOCOG that 90% of places would be made available to the general public.  Continue reading

How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay lost its way part 2: The presenting partners

Get the free ebook for the full story: 8,000 Holes: How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Lost its Way - Leanpub.com/8000holes

In the second part of a serialisation of Help Me Investigate’s first ebook – 8,000 Holes: How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Lost its Way we look at how the presenting partners’ allocation of torchbearer places was handled. You can download the book for free – or choose to pay a donation, with all proceeds going to the Brittle Bone Society – at Leanpub.com/8000holes

Part 2: Getting your money’s worth

Once the Presenting Partners were able to start awarding torchbearer places, each handled their allocation differently.

As the only national presenting partner, Lloyds TSB allocated their places through two UK-wide campaigns: one through Lloyds TSB itself, and another through Bank of Scotland. The bank said they would give the opportunity to “people who have made a difference in their community”.

An analysis of the data on both banks’ official torchbearer sites, however, finds almost 500 of their 1,360 places unaccounted for, and when pressed, the bank admits that: Continue reading

Who’s running instead of Jack Binstead today?

The following is a short extract from the final chapter of 8,000 Holes: How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Lost its Way:

“On the day that Jack’s family flies out, the Olympic torch will be carried by Chai Patel – a former Labour Party donor and now one of the largest donors to the British Olympic Association. Sujith Weerasinghe, Olympics Operations Manager for BP, will carry the torch too, having written his own nomination story. The CEO of the BFI and Samsung’s UK Vice President were listed to carry that day, but as they have since disappeared from the site it’s not clear if they will. Joe Hemani has also disappeared from the site: he was due to carry the torch with the simple nomination story “Joe Hemani is the founder and single shareholder of Westcoast Ltd which was established in 1984.” Westcoast is a technology distribution company. The vice president of Visa Europe runs with a story written by herself, as does the assistant manager of Carphone Warehouse Leeds – it says “Using video technology, I took it upon myself to enhance and personalise the service customers get at Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy Europe.” The head of the company designing the Coca Cola pavilion carries a torch on that day, and while chefs who graduated from Jamie Oliver’s inspirational apprentice programme Fifteen are running – so is the Marketing and Commercial Manager for Jamie Oliver Ltd. And running without any story at all is Paul Eccleston, managing director at techhnology distributor SDG.”

Argus investigates Olympic torchbearers in Sussex

The Argus reports on corporate torchbearers in Sussex

The Argus reports on corporate torchbearers in Sussex

The Argus in Sussex is the latest newspaper to ask questions of the allocation of Olympic torch relay places: “between the charity fundraisers, world record holders and people who have dedicated their lives to helping others,” reports Tim Ridgway and Charlotte Pemberton, “there will be Olympic officials and representatives from multinational corporations who live abroad. This despite organisers promising it would “enable local communities to shine a light on the best their area has to offer”.”

The Argus report comes on the heels of yesterday’s investigation by the Daily Echo in Bournemouth and Help Me Investigate’s work on the subject last month.

Among torchbearers identified by the newspaper are: Continue reading

Get the data: Coca Cola’s US torchbearers for “health, community, environment”

23 of the places that Coca Cola allocated through public nomination went to these US citizens through the Live Positively campaign. As part of our investigation into how places were allocated, we’ve re-presented the data in a more usable format.

The Live Positively site provides nutritional information on Coca Cola products to medical professionals, including information for patients on low-calorie sweeteners (PDF). Continue reading

Stansted torchbearers investigated by David Morgan

A cluster of Chinese torchbearers with stories of business success have been identified by Stansted resident David Morgan.

The Herts and Essex Observer reports on his findings, and includes a reaction from LOCOG who say “the Chinese nationals were nominated through a campaign by electronics giant Samsung.” Continue reading

Olympic sponsors’ torchbearers: the billionaires, MDs and company presidents

The richest man in Britain, the deputy editor of a Russian newspaper, a Brazilian food and drink magnate and the winner of a Chinese talent show are just some of the figures to be chosen by Olympic sponsors to carry the torch across Britain, according to an analysis of Olympic torchbearer nomination stories.

The stories of the individuals described by the London 2012 site as “inspirational people” include “achieving the number one manufacturer spot [for Samsung] for 32 consecutive weeks”; “[Marketing] promotional items to [BP] customers” and “[giving] up chunks of evenings and whole weekends to help the team maximise PR/event opportunities [for Cadbury]”.

Steel and mining company ArcelorMittal, for example, have contributed just two torchbearers: Aditya and Lakshmi Mittal.

Lakshmi is CEO of ArcelorMittal, the richest man in Britain in 2010. He says in his nomination story:

“When I think about parallels between myself and an Olympian, I believe that success in the world of business is underpinned by very similar principles of perseverance and hard work.”

He adds:

“I hope that by carrying the torch I will be representing many other people who share these ideals with me. I also believe that by participating in this relay, I am representing the 270 thousand people around the world who are a part of the ArcelorMittal family.”

Only one of those 270,000 employees appear to have been given the opportunity to carry the torch: his son Aditya Mittal, who has this nomination story:

“As head of Mergers & Acquisitions he initiated and led Mittal Steel’s offer for Arcelor to create the world’s largest steel company and is now helping run it. This year he assumed responsibility for the European operations, the company’s largest division.”

Being there “on merit”

Sponsors’ choice of torchbearers has already generated anger in Bridlington, where some residents decided to organise an alternative torch relay when a top local disabled athlete was overlooked in favour of a Saudi businessman. This is Hull and East Riding reported:

“”The alternative relay will see four Bridlington athletes carry a torch through their hometown.

“They are disabled long jump star Yasmin Pickering, athlete Ben Marshall, and two members of the town’s fencing club – Val Hoodless and Joy Fleetham, who is 78 and still competing.

“A spokeswoman for LOCOG, organisers of the official torch relay, said: “People who are running in the relay were chosen on the merits of their story, not just because they were from the area.

“”We weren’t able to place people from Bridlington if they weren’t successful in the public nominations.””

Other people whose stories merited inclusion as a torchbearer include Samsung‘s President & CEO for Southeast Asia, Oceania and Taiwan Gregory Lee; Andy Griffiths who “has led Samsung UK’s Consumer Electronics business since the end of 2005″; George Ferriera, Chief Operations Officer at Samsung Africa Regional Head quarters; and Simon Stanford, Managing Director for Samsung Mobile in the UK and Ireland, whose nomination story mentions his team’s “huge efforts on achieving the number one manufacturer spot for 32 consecutive weeks.”:

“Staff rewards to date have included a night for the entire team to a Take That gig, of which Samsung were headline sponsor, as well as recently introducing an annual awards night, where several members of the team will be rewarded for their ongoing commitment to the business.”

Notably, Samsung’s terms and conditions for its nomination process specify that “Employees or agents of the Promoter [Samsung] or any of its group companies or their families or households or anyone professionally connected to this promotion or any Nomination Process are not eligible to enter.”

Other nomination stories from Samsung include:

  • Jonghyuk Jeong, who “has worked over 15 years at Samsung heavy industry shipbuilding yard in Geo Je do and he is doing hobby of taking a picture.”
  • Svein Eric Durr: “When we introduced the sales competition in the Telenor chain Telekiosken (largest retailer in Norway) Svein Eric quickly became the competitor to beat.”
  • Major Liu: “He was chosen as the Olympic torchbearer because he won champion in ‘Samsung S Talent Show'”

Samsung has also nominated Miss Vietnam World 2007 Ngo Phuong Lan and businessman Sandiaga Uno and “actress-cum-politician” Wanda Hamidah from Indonesia.

According to one press release (PDF), the company is providing 1360 torchbearers. Being able to allocate torchbearer places in this way is one of the benefits of being a “presenting partner” for the relay, of which there are three: Samsung, Lloyds TSB and Coca Cola. Samsung’s terms and conditions for its nomination process also say that only 463 of those slots were available through their online nomination process – at least some of the others will have been allocated through promotional campaigns with media partners.

Documentation from the previous Olympics (PDF) suggests that 27% of those torchbearer spaces were given to sponsors, with a further 11% given to the Chinese Olympic Committee, the Beijing Organising Committee, and the Olympic Family.

Documentation for this year’s Olympic torch relay from the British Olympic Association provides the following:

“In total there will be 8000 Torchbearers of which 90% have been allocated to the three presenting partners; Coca Cola, Lloyds and Samsung. 90% of these slots will be allocated to the general public through each company’s own public selection process. The remaining 10% has been allocated to other deserving bodies, of which the British Olympic Association is one.

“50% of the runners will be between 12 – 24 years of age and each individual will be within 1 hours transport to the Relay route.”

The figures are poorly presented, but might be understood as follows:

  • 8000 torchbearers total
  • 90% of 8000 allocated to three presenting partners = 7200, or 2400 per partner
  • 10% (800) allocated to other bodies. Sport England, for example, says it was asked to nominate 53 people. Torchbearer data suggests that sponsors who are not presenting partners have also been allocated some of these spaces.
  • 90% of presenting partners’ torchbearer spaces allocated to the public = 2160 per partner
  • 10% not allocated to the public = 240 per partner – 720 total.

It’s not clear where the 700 celebrity torchbearers fit into these figures, although at least some are representing presenting partners: Will.i.am representing Coca Cola, for example, and Didier Drogba representing Samsung.

It’s also not clear how many choices fulfil the promise that “each individual will be within 1 hours transport to the Relay route” (which may only refer to the BOA), but it’s clearly not all.

There are also contradictory figures given elsewhere, with Around The Rings reporting that:

“Only 2,012 of the 8,000 torchbearer spots are up for grabs via LOCOG’s so-called “Moment to Shine” campaign. The rest will be awarded by presenting partners.”

Partners are described as “narrowing a portion of its search to a specific demographic”, with Northwest Europe & Nordics president for Coca-Cola James Quincey quoted as looking to help “young people in the UK” to “celebrate sport, music and life by carrying the Olympic flame.” Sally Hancock, group sponsorship director for Lloyds TSB says their campaign will look for “people who have helped children to make a difference in the world,” while Samsung “withheld mention of any nomination criteria during Wednesday’s announcement, instead focusing on the big picture.”

The food and drink magnate and deputy editor

Coca Cola, who recently distributed a press release about the “22 inspiring Americans” on their list, are less vocal about being represented among the torchbearers by “one of the most admired businessmen in southern Brazil”, Ricardo Vontobel, the President of food and drink company Vonpar, and by Evgeny Faktorovich, “deputy editor-in-chief of one of the biggest Russian daily“.

Cadbury‘s sole representative Jerry Daykin has a nomination story about a role that “involves both strategic planning and actively managing social media channels/chatting with our consumers – often far outside office hours. He’s given up chunks of his evenings and whole weekends to help the team maximise PR/event opportunities and I’ve never heard him complain about having to do so.”

BP use most of their nominations for fundraisers, although one torchbearer is put forward because her qualities included:

“Being able to advise customers on alternative [products]. Markets promotional items to customers especially the wild bean. Always cleaning the environment when the store is less busy. Always ensuring compliance with BP Golden Rules. She cleans the forecourt all the time.”

Another’s nomination comes from having “created and delivered an outstanding digital communications platform for BP’s London 2012 partnership”.

British Airways , Adecco, BMW, Visa, Thomas Cook, Panasonic, McDonalds, BT, Lloyds TSB all generally nominated people with stories that focus on the fundraising, sporting and volunteering efforts of the torchbearers. French energy company EDF are also part of that list – although there is one rather amusing, rather brief ‘nomination story’ from Slovakian Marian Berger:

“In the first place, I dismissed the idea of being the Slovakian representative of EDF Group to carry the Olympic torch in Great Britain I was about to do the usual thing of closing the window and deleting the e-mail”