Canada has become the latest country to relax the restrictions placed upon athletes in relation to sponsorship deals and advertisement during the Olympic Games, which is governed by Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter.
Rule 40.3 of the Olympic Charter states that “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.” However, it previously read “no competitor, team official or other team personnel who participates in the Olympic Games may allow his person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games.” The change in wording came after a German Court ruled that the wording was “too far reaching” and constituted “abusive conduct”.
Athletes argued that the previous wording of the Rule was acting as a barrier against them earning money at a time when they have the most exposure and would be most desirable to sponsors, with the new wording athletes are now able to gain exposure through advertisement as long as it complies with the relevant principles.
Canada has maintained similar guidelines to those that they adopted for Rio 2016 and PyeongChang 2018 such as athletes and their personal sponsors can continue to run long-standing, generic campaigns with no escalation during the Games and athletes can continue to thank personal sponsors during the Games. New updates to the guidelines have also been included: Increased opportunity for athletes to engage personal sponsors during the Games period, athletes can now share promotional social posts as part of a long-standing, generic campaign with no escalation during the Games period and a less restrictive timeline for sponsor campaigns to be in market.
Canada, along with other countries such as Australia and America who have also relaxed their guidelines in time for Tokyo 2020 so that athletes have been freedom in advertisement allowing them to gain more exposure during the Olympics. Athletes’ Commission Vice-Chair, Rosie MacLennan said “these guidelines reflect the evolution of the broader market and recognize the importance of enabling individual sponsorship that encourage Canadian brands and companies to financially support Canada’s athletes.”
You can read the COC press release here.
This topic was discussed at a seminar hosted by Sport Resolutions and Winston Strawn LLP in October 2019.