Large athletic events are usually a go-to spot for big advertisement. When it comes to the Olympics, advertisements come strictly from Olympic sponsors like McDonalds, Chobani, and Kellogg’s. Over the years, this has become something we are accustomed to; after all, who can remember a time when this was not the norm? It was not until the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London when athletes shed light on rule number 40 of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) with the hashtag “#WeDemandChange2012” and “#Rule40” that the public really became aware of how strict advertising and sponsorship was taken at the Olympic Games. IOC’s rule 40 states, “”Except as permitted by the IOC executive board, no competitor, coach, trainer or official 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,” and applies throughout the blackout dates of Jan. 30 to Feb. 26. The violation of this rule can result in serious penalties from the IOC.
As you can imagine, the athletes are nothing short of annoyed by rule 40. Brand websites have gone to the lengths of blurring out athlete’s faces in photos to keep from being reprimanded. According to a Fox News article, top international sponsors of the IOC pay upwards of $100 million for exclusive four-year deals. At that price, it can be understood to some level why these measures are being taken when sponsors dish out major bucks, but when it comes to the companies that helped these athletes even get to the Olympics, it is a shame to see that they are not being recognized as the true sponsors of the athletes.
When asked about sponsors, athletes are weary and skeptical as to what they can or cannot say to reporters. Others have made a point to mention their sponsors on social media before the blackout dates. Though this dilemma presented itself to be a pain to the athletes in 2012, it seems that the winter Olympians in Sochi are more vocal about their disagreement with the IOC and their overbearing rules. Snowboarders and skiers have been able to wedge in their sponsors by way of brand logos on the bottom of their equipment, as long as “”the identification of the manufacturer may be carried as generally used on products sold through the retail trade during the period of 12 months prior to the games,” as stated by the IOC. While athlete’s personal sponsors have not signed into the same agreement that Olympic sponsors have both signed and paid into, is it really fair to completely hide the companies and brands that supported world-class athletes before they were Olympians?
Associated Press. Fox News. “Olympians tiptoe around sponsorship ban”. (18 Feb. 2014). Read: 19 Feb. 2014. http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2014/02/18/in-sochi-athletes-tiptoe-around-olympics-sponsorship-ban-ioc-says-open-to/
Webster, Andrew. The Verge. “Olympic snowboarders find advertising loophole in Sochi”. 19 Oct. 2014. Read: 19 Oct. 2014. http://mobile.theverge.com/2014/2/19/5427012/sochi-2014-olympic-snowboarder-advertising