Now, I’ve heard of the International Olympic Committee punishing Olympic athletes for silly things, but this certainly tops the list. Why does this even matter? And more importantly, whose job title is “Director of making sure sprinters don’t wear custom watches”? And who does he report to?
In fewer than 24 hours, Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake could be a gold medalist in the 200-meter sprint, if he can find a way to top Usain Bolt. Yet Blake’s wrist might get much more attention from the International Olympic Committee than Bolt’s entire body thanks to something Blake wore during the 100 final: A custom, $500,000 watch made by designer Richard Mille.
As reported by Britain’s TNT Magazine and a handful of other English sources, the watch is a customized sports watch in the green and yellow colorway of the Jamaican flag. Officially, the timepiece is called a Richard Mille Tourbillion watch, and the one-of-a-kind piece of functional jewelry was designed specifically for Blake to wear at the Games.
Blake followed through on his part of the bargain, wearing the watch during the semifinals and finals of the 100-meter dash, an event in which he finished second, behind countryman and world-record holder Usain Bolt.
Yet that has infuriated IOC officials, who have phenomenally strict regulations about what athletes are allowed to wear while competing at the Games. According to strict sponsorship regulations, Olympic athletes are only allowed to wear gear that is part of their country’s sponsored apparel.