London Olympic logo triggers debate

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LONDON - The "iconic" logo for the 2012 London Olympics was unveiled here on Monday, but critics immediately condemned it as "hideous" and a waste of money.

The jagged emblem, designed to define the image of the Games in five years' time, comes in a series of bright shades of pink, blue, green and orange, and includes the signature five Olympic rings emblazoned onto the "0".

"This is the vision at the very heart of our brand," said London 2012 organising committee chief Sebastian Coe, the former 800m and 1,500m world record holder who won gold in the 1,500 metres at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics.

"It will define the venues we build and the Games we hold, and act as a reminder of our promise to use the Olympic spirit to inspire everyone and reach out to young people around the world," he said at the London launch.

Organisers hope the logo, designed to be instantly recognisable worldwide, will help boost its campaign to raise two billion pounds (three billion euros) to stage the Games.

"This is an iconic brand that sums up what London 2012 is all about - an inclusive, welcoming and diverse Games that involves the whole country," said Olympics minister Tessa Jowell.

But critics were not impressed.

Bob Neill, 2012 Olympics spokesman for the main opposition Conservative Party, was disparaging about Coe's optimism, despite him being a fellow Tory lawmaker.

"Lord Coe has described this logo as 'ambitious, interactive and youth-friendly'. I would describe it as hideous," he said.

"Questions need be answered as to how we have ended up in this situation. Was there an open competition to supply the designs? If so, what on earth do the rejected ones look like!

"We need to know how much money this exercise has cost, because whatever it was, it's been a complete waste of money."

Initial public reaction was also less than positive.

"This logo makes me embarrassed to be English," said a contributor called Clumbers on one online message site devoted to the logo, which was devoid of supporters of the chosen design.

"It looks like it could have been done by a six year old. I could do better with my eyes closed," added someone called Bige.

A poll by the BBC News website asked readers to give it a gold, silver or bronze medal, or a wooden spoon if they really didn't like it. Eighty three percent gave it a wooden spoon.

The budget for the 2012 Olympics has soared to 9.3 billion pounds (18.6 billion dollars, 13.7 billion euros), nearly four times more than the first projections of how much it would cost to stage the Games in London.

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