In June 2019, the IOC updated Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter and established a set of Key Principles. These Key Principles set out how the athletes competing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can engage in and benefit from commercial activities around the Olympic Games. The Rule 40 framework is important as it enables the Olympic Movement to fund all Olympic teams worldwide, Olympic sports and the Olympic Games themselves
Download the summary of the Key Principles for athletes competing at the Olympic Games to find out how you can benefit from the Olympic Charter changes, while still complying with the IOC’s, and your national Olympic team’s, policies.
For the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the IOC is providing more opportunities and flexibility to you to participate in commercial activities during the Games.
The Key Principles allow you to generate income through personal sponsorships and to appear in advertising for those sponsors. This advertising can continue to appear during the Olympic Games if it meets certain criteria.
It is important that you ensure that your personal sponsors are aware of the Key Principles and comply with them. More detailed guidance is available for athletes’ agents and personal sponsors in the Key Principles themselves and in the Illustrative Guidance.
Please note that your National Olympic Committee (NOC) will oversee advertising targeted at their country, so please check if they have developed any further guidance for you as their team members.
We generally refer just to athletes in this guide, but the Key Principles apply to all competitors, coaches, trainers and officials who are participating in the Olympic Games.
“Olympic Partners” are companies with sponsorship contracts with the IOC, the Olympic Games Organising Committee and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and the official Olympic Games broadcasters.
All other organisations are “Non-Olympic Partners”.
The Key Principles apply to all kinds of commercial promotion that you may be involved in. This, includes commercial social media posts and promotions; lending or gifting of products to athletes; and traditional advertising, such as press, TV, online and instore advertising and promotions.
The Key Principles apply during the Olympic Games Period, which begins on 13 July 2021 (when the Olympic Village opens), and ends on 10 August 2021 (two days after the Closing Ceremony).
1. Enter Into Personal Sponsorship And Endorsement Contracts
You can enter into contracts with personal sponsors at any time before, during or after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. If you are currently looking for a personal sponsor, the IOC provides support and advice to you through Athlete365, accessible here.
The official worldwide and local Olympic Partners provide direct support, as personal sponsors, to hundreds of individual athletes around the world, in many different sports disciplines.
You may enter into contracts with brands other than the official Olympic sponsors. Please check any requirements your NOC might have relating to the kinds of organisations which can sponsor their athletes (for example, under your team agreement, if you have one).
2. How Can I Recognise My Sponsors?
You can recognise the support provided by your personal sponsors to help you on your journey to sporting success. During the Olympic Games Period, you may provide one simple “thank-you” message to each of your Non-Olympic Partner personal sponsors. A single identical message, posted at the same time on a number of social media platforms, counts as one message. Some NOCs permit athletes to post additional “thank-you” messages: please check with your NOC for further details.
Before, or after, the Olympic Games Period, there are no limits on the number of “thank-you” messages that you may provide to Non-Olympic Partner personal sponsors.
The “thank-you” messages permitted under the Key Principles are intended to enable you to recognise long-term support from personal sponsors, rather than to enable “pay-per-post” or similar deals focused on promoting a sponsor brand. Athletes (like other influencers) should be transparent about whether they have been paid, incentivised or rewarded to promote a brand in their post.
“Thank-you” messages for Non-Olympic Partners should not:
- contain any Olympic Properties (such as the Olympic symbol, or other Olympic images, mottos or phrases, such as ‘Tokyo 2020’, and other properties listed in the Key Principles),
- contain images or videos from Olympic venues or Olympic medal ceremonies,
- feature your official Olympic team uniform, or any Olympic medal,
- include any personal endorsement of a product or service, or
- suggest that a product or service helped your sporting performance.
Thank you messages to Olympic Partners should not be combined with messages to Non-Olympic Partners.
You do not need to notify the IOC or your NOC before posting thank-you messages but should ask your NOC if you have any doubts about whether it complies with the Key Principles.
If your thank-you message is directed at an Olympic Partner, you can use images including Olympic Properties, from Olympic venues or Olympic medal ceremonies, or featuring your official Olympic team uniform or Olympic medals. There are no limits on the number of thank-you messages that may be directed at Olympic Partners at any time.
3. How Can I Participate In Advertising Campaigns By Sponsors?
You can be included in advertising campaigns by your personal sponsors, including during the Olympic Games Period, in accordance with the Key Principles. The main elements are summarised below. Personal sponsors must obtain your consent to use your name or image in advertising.
Any campaigns running during the Olympic Games Period by Non-Olympic Partners must not use Olympic Properties, must respect IOC and NOC policies and must be generic. This means that they must:
- not make any connection with the Olympic Games (other than by featuring you as an Olympic athlete),
- be regularly in market at least 90 days before the Olympic Games Period, and
- not increase during the Games Period
Requirements 2 and 3 will be applied flexibly to support athletes who may be selected for the Olympic Games at a late stage.
Illustrative guidance as to what would be considered “generic” advertising is available from NOCs and online, to help your personal sponsors comply with these requirements.
Olympic Partners can run athlete campaigns which include Olympic Properties, and make other connections to the Olympic Games, in accordance with their contracts with the IOC, NOC or Games Organising Committee.
If your personal sponsor plans to feature you in advertising on a multinational basis (meaning in more than one country), it is important that it consult the IOC Key Principles and Illustrative Guidance.
If your personal sponsor plans to feature you in advertising in only one country, it should consult with your NOC to understand the rules that apply in that country.
Your personal sponsor must notify the IOC of any multinational advertising plans by 15 May 2021 through the simple IOC Athlete Advertising Notification Portal available at rule40.olympic.org. The purpose of this notification is to provide personal sponsors and athletes with certainty, by enabling the IOC to check advertising before it is distributed.
Later notification is possible for advertising featuring athletes who are selected for the Olympic Games after 15 May 2021.
If the IOC has any feedback on notified advertising, it will be provided to your sponsor within 10 days.
Olympic Partners can run advertising and notify at any time.
With regard to social media advertising, personal sponsors do not need to provide advance notice for each individual post, but details of the sponsors’ social media advertising plan, including the nature and planned content of the posts, should be included in the sponsors’ online notification, which should be made no later than 15 May 2021.
During the Olympic Games Period, only Olympic Partners can engage in congratulatory advertising.
Before and after the Games Period, non-Olympic Partners can engage in congratulatory advertising in support of their contracted athletes, but without using any Olympic Properties.
The Olympic Games are unique, with athletes from all countries of the world represented, competing across a huge variety of sports. However, whilst some national Olympic teams receive substantial public funding to go to the Olympic Games, others receive none. They rely completely on funding from private sources, such as sponsorship. But many national Olympic teams, and the majority of Olympic athletes, do not have their own sponsorship income.
To address this difference, the IOC’s commercial programmes are structured to help all 206 Olympic teams from every nation of the world, plus the IOC Refugee Olympic Team, to compete at the Olympic Games.
All athletes compete at the Olympic Games as part of a National Olympic Committee (NOC) team. These teams are supported by the IOC through the ’solidarity’ model of Olympic funding.
Athletes also benefit from the support the IOC provides to the International Federations (IFs) of the sports represented at the Olympic Games.
A third way of benefiting is through the IOC’s contribution to the staging of the Olympic Games. Not only does this cover a big part of the costs of organising the Games, it also covers travel, accommodation and medical care for athletes and their team officials.
Athletes can also benefit from individual Olympic Solidarity scholarships.
These are just some of the examples of how all athletes benefit from the solidarity model of Olympic funding.
This funding model helps athletes from all countries, especially those who could not attend without solidarity funding. Thanks to this funding model, the Olympic Games are the most universal sporting event in the world, and, as an athlete, you compete against the best athletes in the world.
In addition to solidarity funding, the Rule 40 framework helps to support the commercial programmes managed by the Organising Committees of the Olympic Games, and NOCs, so also supports funding of facilities at the Olympic Games for all athletes and Olympic teams.
In addition, the official Olympic Partners provide direct financial support to thousands of individual athletes around the world, from many different sports.
Further, the IOC helps generate awareness of each athlete’s achievements worldwide, increasing an athlete’s value in the eyes of existing and future sponsors, by ensuring global broadcast coverage of the Olympic Games.
In her open letter, Kirsty Coventry, the IOC Athletes’ Commission Chair, highlighted the risks if the athlete advertising framework loses this balance. This could cause long-term damage to the Olympic funding structure, by:
- harming the revenue sources that support athletes from all over the world to compete at the Olympic Games;
- undermining the diversity of the sports disciplines featured at the Olympic Games;
- negatively impacting athlete experience during the Games; and
- ultimately risking the delivery of the Olympic Games in the future.
The Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration recognises the right of athletes to generate personal income, as well as respect for the solidarity principles of the Olympic Movement, which enable funding amongst all athletes and members of the Olympic Movement. the IOC has developed the athlete advertising Key Principles for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as a reasonable balance between these two factors.
The athlete advertising Key Principles for Tokyo 2020 apply only for a very short time of 28 days, but still enable athletes to benefit from personal sponsorship and appear in well-planned advertising during the Games. At the same time, the Rule 40 framework maintains the value and appeal of official Olympic sponsorship programmes, to ensure continued support for all athletes and teams (particularly those without sponsorship income), and for the Olympic Games themselves.
The limited restrictions for the Olympic Games Period are therefore a small price to pay for solidarity, ensuring, collectively, we support all teams, in the Olympic spirit.
Further details of how commercial revenues are distributed are available on Athlete365 and Olympic.org.
The IOC will oversee advertising activity from an international perspective, which is why it is important that multinational advertising activity is notified to the IOC via the online platform. Single-country campaigns will be overseen by the relevant NOC. Please always check the specific application of the Key Principles with your NOC.
If the Key Principles are not observed, each situation will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The IOC or your NOC may require the advertising to be withdrawn or amended. In serious cases, sanctions may be imposed.
The IOC recommends to NOCs that, in principle, monetary measures should be favoured as sanctions, rather than sporting sanctions, such as withdrawal from the Games.
Please contact your NOC for more information on these new principles and the opportunities they offer you and your sponsors.