Sebastian Coe, chair of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), rapidly backtracked, but it wasn’t hard for many observers to believe the Games he is organizing are more about brands and corporations and less about fans and sports.

The Pepsi PEP, -0.34%  comments captured a big part of what the Games are about — Coca-Cola Co. KO, +0.09%  is one of the International Olympic Committee’s main sponsors, and it was all-too-easy to think the Games’ organizers would throw out any fan showing preference for a partner’s business rival.

The presence of so-called brand police, staff who will be on the lookout for any sign of a non-Olympics sponsor trying to market itself at the Games, and some of the aggressive actions taken by Olympics bodies against innocuous parties, tell a sorry tale.

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