Olympic torch sponsor sends execs as runners

Several Germans have won a place as Olympic torchbearers on the relay trail in Britain – seemingly for no other reason than their good connections with – or jobs at - major sponsor Samsung.

Olympic torch sponsor sends execs as runners
Symbolic picture - not Samsung execs. Photo: DPA

Around 8,000 people are taking part in the 70-day Olympic torch relay across the British Isles, which leads to the opening ceremony in London on July 27. Most of them are British, and most have been awarded the honour because of their local community work or their work to promote sport.

But a small German contingent is also taking part, and many of them are connected with Samsung, the Tagesspiegel newspaper reported on Monday.

The South Korean-based electronics giant is one of the three sponsors of the torch relay, and so has the right to nominate a number of bearers – and has picked several senior executives, business partners and friendly journalists. The firm is also a major sponsor of the games themselves.

In the run-up to the relay, Samsung publicly invited, “people who contribute to the community” to apply for a place on the relay. The company’s German branch then sent 35 runners to carry the torch on Monday and Tuesday in the south west of the UK.

In a statement published at the end of May, the company said the 35 had been chosen for their “social engagement and particular personal contribution to run part of the torch relay in Brighton and Hastings.”

But the Tagesspiegel said that of the 26 people whose names it has found out, more than half were closely connected to the company. Nine work for Samsung Germany – including six senior managers – another six are employ by electronic goods retailers, while two are journalists who specialized in telecommunications.

One of these is 37-year-old Berliner Fabien Röhlinger, who set up a website dedicated to the Android operating system which is used on Samsung phones. His blog published on Sunday describes how he won his place:

“As one of the founders and directing editor of AndroidPIT, one of the biggest websites in the world for the mobile phone operating system Android, of course I have regular dealings with the company,” he wrote. “And it was Samsung itself that brought my attention to this great competition.”

He went on to describe how his cousin had been a torchbearer at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. “He was a very good athlete in several disciplines,”

But Röhlinger wrote that even though he played sports in his free time, he would never be recognised for his athleticism: “That I might now get the chance through Samsung was like opportunity knocking. I wrote all this in my story.”

A Samsung spokeswoman confirmed to the paper that there were “some employees and business partners” among the German torchbearers, but insisted that they were all people who “went the extra mile, in other words, people who are particularly socially engaged, or inspired others in some special way.”

The official Olympic Games website includes a space for the nomination stories of all 8,000 torchbearers – this space is empty for many of the German Samsung runners. According to research conducted by a group of British journalists, several Samsung executives from around the world are taking part in the relay.

The Local/bk

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What does the UK’s new ‘traffic light’ system mean for travel to Germany?

The UK government is bringing in a 'traffic light' system set of rules for travel to different countries. Here's what it could mean for travel between Germany and the UK.

What does the UK's new 'traffic light' system mean for travel to Germany?
A near empty Heathrow Airport in London in January 2021. picture alliance/dpa/ZUMA Wire | May James

Whether it’s about visiting family or taking a holiday, Brits in Germany, as well as people in the UK, are desperate to know how they can travel to and from Britain.

At present the UK rules prohibit travel out of the country for non-essential purposes, meaning holidays to Germany (and everywhere else) are not possible. Travel is only allowed for an essential reason.

However, this is set to be lifted from May 17th, and at that stage England’s ‘traffic light’ system will kick in.

This involves giving each country a designation – red, amber or green – based on data including case numbers and vaccination rates in the country.

On Friday Germany was listed as an ‘amber’ country. Although coronavirus infections are falling and vaccinations are picking up pace, numbers at the moment are still quite high.

EXPLAINED: The European countries on England’s ‘amber’ travel list and what it means

For comparison, Our World in Data shows that Germany has 210.97 daily confirmed cases per million people, while the UK has 29.9.


However, if the trend continues and numbers continue to drop in Germany in the coming weeks – it could be placed on the green list some time soon.

Not being on the green list doesn’t mean that travel isn’t allowed – it just means that people will have to quarantine and test on arrival in the UK.

Red list – arrivals have to quarantine in specially-designated quarantine hotels for 10 days. The traveller is liable for the cost of these, which is up to £1,700 (around €1,967), plus the cost of testing after arrival. A Covid test is required to enter the country. This is expected to be reserved for the highest-risk countries including India, Brazil and South Africa.

Note that it could be the case (as is currently) that anyone who’s not a British/Irish national or resident will be refused entry if they are coming from a red country.

Amber list – arrivals have to quarantine for 10 days but can do so in a location of their choice including the home of a friend or family member. Arrivals also have to pay for travel-testing kits which cost around £200 (around €232) per person. A Covid test is required to enter the country. Essentially this the regime currently in place for most arrivals.

Green list – no quarantine is necessary, but a Covid test is required to enter the country, plus another test on or before day two of their stay. 

Note that the current travel rules for entering the UK say that an antigen test meeting a certain quality standard is allowed for entry into Britain rather than only PCR tests. We don’t know if this will be allowed under the new travel rules so make sure to check the UK Government’s site before travel.

The list as published applies to England only.

The devolved nations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have not announced when they will lift travel restrictions but have not so far indicated that they intend to impose different rules to England’s.

The German travel rules

Currently Germany discourages all but essential travel within the country and abroad.

However, German states are putting together plans for reopening hotels and other overnight accommodation which signals that things are beginning to open up. 


At the moment, Germany has travel bans in place for areas deemed high risk due to mutations of coronavirus. That currently includes Brazil and India. Some people, such as German citizens are residents are exempt from the bans but have to comply with strict quarantine and testing rules.

READ MORE: What you need to know about the latest rules on travel to and from Germany

Everyone arriving in the country by plane, regardless of the risk status of the place they are travelling from, has to present a negative coronavirus test certificate no older than 48 hours before boarding.

The test must have been taken no more than 48 hours before entry (time of swabbing). Proof of the test result must be on paper or in an electronic document in English, French or German. The test result must be kept for at least 10 days after entry.

For information on test requirements have a look at this information sheet.

All entries to Germany must also register online prior to arrival by filling in your information on this site:

There are also strict quarantine rules for arrivals from most countries, which are set by the German state. The quarantine period typically lasts 10 or 14 days, and in some cases can be ended after a negative Covid test taken at the earliest five days into self-isolation.

You can find your local government here by entering the postcode.

We’ll let you know if and when travel rules change in Germany.

What about vaccine passports?

Neither Germany nor the UK as yet have vaccine passport systems up and running.

That means that, for the moment, even fully vaccinated people will have to abide by the testing and quarantine rules.

READ ALSO: How will the EU’s ‘Covid passport’ work for tourists in Europe?

Please keep in mind that this article, as with all of our guides, are to provide assistance only. They are not intended to take the place of official legal advice.