The attempt by a Dutch sex toy company to reach fans of the healthy sport of curling has led some broadcasters to cancel a live broadcast of a tournament that will determine final places at the Beijing Olympics.
Local organizers of the Olympic qualifying event in the Netherlands said they were told the on-ice ads with EasyToys’ name and an unspoken logo were too much for the American public. Dutch media reported that the live broadcast was also canceled in Japan.
“I’m not the right person to have an opinion on what is normal in which country,” promoter Dagmar van Stiphout told The Associated Press. “I think they’re surprised too, but you better ask them.”
USA Curling tweeted on Sunday that video of the Americans’ opener was not available due to “an unforeseen sponsorship dispute with the local organizing committee.” The national governing body said NBC was working with organizers on a solution.
An NBC spokesperson did not immediately respond to a question asking for an explanation of the decision. EasyToys, a sex paraphernalia website which bills itself as “the market leader in the Netherlands and Belgium”, could not be reached for comment.
While most of the Olympic men’s, women’s and mixed doubles curling grounds have already been filled, the tournament to determine final places in Beijing began Sunday in Leeuwarden, about 90 minutes north of Amsterdam. Fourteen teams, including the American duo Chris Plys and Vicky Persinger, contested for the last two student places at the Winter Games.
But Americans searching for the live broadcast on the World Curling Federation’s website instead found a message that the broadcasts had been suspended due to an “ongoing sponsor rights issue.” In videos tweeted by WCF and elsewhere, the EasyToys ads could be seen in four places on the playing surface, and his name was printed along the dividing line that determines where curlers must drop the stone.
Van Stiphout told the AP that organizers informed WCF of their sponsorship deals a few weeks ago.
“We informed them of the sponsors. We spoke with them about the position “of the announcements, he said.” I can imagine that they are surprised at the reaction, but not surprised at the sponsors that we have. “
WCF spokesman Christopher Hamilton told the AP on Monday that organizers were investigating “a number of solutions to resolve complications with our broadcast partners’ policy regarding sponsor agreements and the use”. USA Curling President Jeff Plush did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Persinger and Plys won their first three round robin matches and were tied with South Korea at the top of the group standings. The mixed doubles competition ends on Thursday, with the final two teams claiming a spot in the Beijing peloton.
“Of course, it’s a shame that this is happening now,” said van Stiphout. “We will continue the tournament. We do it for the athletes. We will continue the event.