A Dutch sex toy company’s effort to reach fans of the wholesome sport of curling has prompted some broadcasters to cancel their livestreams of a tournament that will determine the final place at the Beijing Olympics.
Local organizers of the Olympic qualification event in the Netherlands said they were told that on-ice ads featuring the EasyToys name and obscure logo were too much for American audiences. Dutch media reported that the livestream was also canceled in Japan.
“I am not the right man to have an opinion about which country is normal,” promoter Dagmar van Steefout told the Associated Press. “I guess they’re surprised too, but it’s best to ask them.”
USA Curling tweeted on Sunday that video of the Americans’ opening round match was not available due to “an unexpected sponsorship conflict 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 query seeking an explanation for the decision. EasyToys, a sexual content website that bills itself as a “market leader in the Netherlands and Belgium”, could not be reached for comment.
While the men’s, women’s and mixed doubles Olympic curling fields have already been filled, the tournament began on Sunday in Leeuwarden, about 90 minutes north of Amsterdam, to determine the final spot in Beijing. Fourteen teams, including the American pair of Chris Pliss and Vicky Persinger, were competing for the final two co-educational berths at the Winter Games.
But instead of demanding a livestream, the Americans found a message on the World Curling Federation website that the broadcast had been suspended due to “an ongoing sponsor rights issue”. In videos tweeted by WCF and elsewhere, EasyToys advertisements could be seen in four locations on the playing surface, and its name was printed with a hog line that determines where to let the curlers pass the stone. needed.
Van Stefout told the AP that organizers informed WCF of its sponsorship agreements a few weeks ago.
“We informed them which are the sponsors. We spoke to him about the status of the ads, he said. “I can imagine they are surprised about the response, but not surprised about the sponsors we have.”
WCF spokesman Christopher Hamilton told the AP on Monday that organizers were “investigating a number of solutions to address our broadcast partner policy complexities around sponsor agreements and usage.” USA Curling president Jeff Plush did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Persinger and Pliss won their first three round-robin matches and were tied with South Korea in the group standings. The mixed doubles competition will conclude on Thursday, with the last two teams earning a spot at the Beijing ground.
“Of course it’s a pity that this is happening now,” Van Stifout said. “We will go ahead with the tournament. We do it for the athletes. We will continue the event.”
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