Tongan changes name to brand

Sat, 11 Feb 18:04:00 2012

A luger from Tonga caused a stir at the world championships in Altenberg on Saturday after he changed his name to that of his sponsor.

Tonga's Bruno Banani looks on during the second run of the FIL Luge World Championships in Altenberg - 0

Bruno Banani was born Fuahea Semi but changed his name to that of a German underwear maker as he seeks to become his nation's first winter Olympian at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.

His move angered International Olympic Committee Vice President Thomas Bach, who called it a "perverse marketing idea."

"It is of bad taste to change your name to that of a sponsor. That is too much for me. This has nothing to do with proper marketing," Bach said.

Bach said however should the Tongan qualify for the Sochi Games there would be nothing the IOC could do to stop him from competing under that name.

"I do not think that we can react to this if that is the name in his passport," Bach said.

The IOC is extremely sensitive to ambush marketing tactics during Olympic Games as it seeks to protect its sponsors who have paid hundreds of millions for the rights to advertise.

Earlier a Tonga official said the move was to raise money as the country seeks to send their first athlete to the Winter Games.

Watch Bruno Banani in action

Reuters

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