Onus on NOCs as IOC claims 'balance' in Rule 40 changes
New regulations governing commercial opportunities for athletes at the Olympic Games will be in place for the Tokyo 2020 edition following a change to Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter, which has prevented athletes from advertising their own partners.
However, the International Olympic Committee has given national Olympic bodies responsibility for determining the parameters within their own territories, with guidelines to be issued shortly.
Athletes have been pressing for changes to Rule 40, which stated that participants cannot allow their “person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games” other than by official Olympic sponsors.
The campaign was boosted by this year’s controversial ruling by the German cartel office that the country’s Olympic athletes should have more rights for promotional activities before and during the games.
The IOC has now relaxed the regulations without applying the German ruling worldwide.
A statement issued following this week's IOC session read: “Athletes are at the heart of the Olympic Movement, and supporting them at all levels, on and off the field of play, is a priority for the IOC. The principles seek to clarify the commercial opportunities during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and put athletes and other Olympic Games participants in a better position to work with their personal sponsors in a manner consistent with their rights and responsibilities under the Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration and the Olympic Charter.
“The new principles represent a balance between, on the one hand, protecting and maintaining Olympic marketing programmes to ensure funding of the Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement, and, on the other hand, the individual athlete’s rights to generate income in relation to their sporting career, name and likeness.
“The National Olympic Committees will be responsible for the implementation in their respective territory, while taking into consideration their specific applicable legal framework, and will receive the guidelines soon.”
Bye-law 3 of Rule 40 now reads: “Competitors, team officials and other team personnel who participate in the Olympic Games may allow their person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games in accordance with the principles determined by the IOC Executive Board.”
Welcoming the compromise reached, IOC president Thomas Bach said: “The amendments of the Olympic Charter made today [Wednesday} show a clear demonstration of the new approach of the IOC, which is based on openness and flexibility, without infringing the existing agreements.
“We want to look at this in a positive way and we want to be as liberal as possible without affecting the sponsorships contracts of the NOCs. We are protecting them and that’s why we don’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. I don’t think such a solution exists.”