By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

February 28 - Iran have protested to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) about the controversial London 2012 logo, claiming that it is racist and spells the word "Zion".

The jagged, multi-coloured emblem, which reportedly cost £400,000 features four bold numerals representing 2012, with the Olympic Rings emblazoned within the digit zero.

But Mohammad Aliabadi, head of the National Olympic Committee of the Islamic Republic of Iran, said the logo was undermining the event and accused officials of indulging in "racism".

"Unfortunately, we all are witnessing that the upcoming Olympics...faces a serious challenge, definitely spawned out of some people's racist spirit," Aliabadi said in a letter to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge, that was also signed by Bahram Afsharzade, the secretary general of the Iranian Olympic Committee.

"We appreciate the committee's efforts in line with developing the spirit of Olympism all over the world.

"We ask for your consideration of the following issue which if neglected, may have destructive effects on the future of sport, especially London Olympic Games in 2012.

"Highlighting the values of Olympic, which ban any sorts of partiality, political, religious and racial measures in this field, may have a leading role to hold London Games better."

"We have two years ahead to the opening of the games and unfortunately we see the games face with a critical challenge at the beginning which is raised by the racial attitudes of some individuals.

"As internet documents have proved, using the word Zion in the logo of 2012 Olympic Games is a disgracing action and against Olympic's valuable mottos.

"The use of the word Zion by the designer of Olympics the emblem of the Olympics Games 2012 is a very revolting act."

Aliabadi even threatened that if Rogge did not take action and persuade London 2012 to change the logo it "affect the participation of several countries, especially like Iran which insists on following principles and values".

Tehran believes the geometrical figures illustrating "2012" in the logo conceal the word "Zion," a term Iranian officials use to describe Israel and its Government, which they do not recognize..

Soon after the logo was unveiled, some Muslim graphists objected to it, saying the logo reminds the world "Zion".

But Iran is the first Islamic country which has officially expressed its opposition to the logo.

"We had to show protest against the measure," Aliabadi told the Iranian news agency, INSA.

"We intend to write a letter to Asian Olympic Council to call for them to follow up on the issue more seriously."

A spokesman for London 2012 refuted the Iranian's claims.

"The London 2012 logo represents the year 2012, nothing else," he told insidethegames

"It was launched in 2007 following testing and consultation, we are surprised that this complaint has been made now."

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