CALGARY, Canada — Saying they do not want to make enemies of the media, organizers of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games have withdrawn a court application aimed at preventing Canada's leading weekly newsmagazine from publishing a special Olympic issue.
In a joint statement Friday, the Calgary Olympic Organizing Committee (OCO) and the Canadian Olympic Assn. (COA) said they were pulling out their application for an injunction against Maclean's magazine "to demonstrate that they do not intend and are not attemping to constrain freedom of the press or discourage coverage of the Games."
The two groups, which control the rights to about 200 Olympic trademarks, launched the legal action against Maclean's last month, arguing that the magazine planned to make commercial use of the symbols by publishing a special Olympics issue in January. The Games begin in Calgary Feb. 13.
Olympic organizers had accused Maclean's of stepping on the turf of Time Inc., publisher of Sports Illustrated, which had paid more than $2 million for the exclusive rights to publish an official program of the Winter Games.
OCO and COA had asked the court to block the publication of the special Maclean's issue and award them $1 million in damages. The case had been set to go to trial Nov. 24.
Earlier this week, the Toronto-based magazine informed the court that it intended to fight the injunction application on the grounds that it violated freedom of the press guarantees of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The magazine argued that it was merely doing its job in covering a newsworthy event and did not intend its special issue to appear officially sanctioned by OCO.
"I'm a bit disappointed we didn't win in court but I'm glad we won," said Maclean's editor Kevin Doyle in Toronto. "I hope what the Olympic people have done in withdrawing the application goes some way towards re-establishing the fundamental principle of the freedom of the media to cover a news event without paying for it."
Doyle said he believed the magazine, which has an average weekly circulation of 650,000, would have won the fight had it gone to court.
"We were going ahead, anyway," he said. "The magazine's well into its final stages now; it takes away a nagging concern, and it'll appear in mid-January exactly as it would have looked had no injunction been brought."