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No shortage of rules for Olympic torch

VANCOUVER - The 2010 Olympic organizing committee wants torch relay host communities to be its eyes, ears and arms to stop political campaigning and marketing by non-Olympic sponsors.

"VANOC relies on the spirit of fair play and goodwill across all communities in complying with these considerations," said the Olympic Torch Relay Community Planning Addendum. "VANOC will seek the assistance of community task forces in helping to minimize and manage any activities that would be of concern."

A series of drawings shows activities that VANOC approves or disapproves during the cross-Canada torch relay, which begins Oct. 30 in Victoria.

When the touring flame arrives, Canada flag giveaways are all right, but companies offering product samples or politicians distributing pamphlets are not.

A shopkeeper can hang a "welcome to our town Torch Relay" banner in a window. A sign reading "Share The Flame, two-for-one specials while the torch relay is in town" would be "of high concern" to VANOC.

Likewise, students outside a school with a "Welcome Torch Relay from Mrs. Johnson's 4th Grade" sign are doing no wrong. Workers in company uniforms with a company-branded welcome banner near a forest would be of high concern.

"VANOC will consider timing, placement and reoccurrence of concerning activities when assessing appropriate courses of action."

The VANOC manual also advises community celebration planners that branded vehicles on the torch route or blocks of spectators in corporate uniforms within camera view are "high concern" activities.

Ambush marketing worries also defy gravity.

"Commercially branded blimps, hot air balloons, airplanes towing banners or sign writers displaying corporate messages above the route or celebration sites would be of high concern to VANOC and will not be permitted in advance of the relay and will be asked to desist," said the document, obtained from City of Vancouver under Freedom of Information.

Bob Mackin reports for Vancouver 24 hours.

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