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The following document will give you the answers to some of the questions you may have regarding Rule 40. It will also explain why we have this rule.
What is Rule 40 and when does it apply?
Bye-law 3 to Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter (referred to as Rule 40) states that:
“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.”
Any reference to a participating athlete, whether by their personal appearance, use of their image, name or sports performance in any kind of commercial promotion during the Olympic Games period from 30 January to 26 February (nine days prior to the Opening Ceremony until three days after the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games) falls within the scope of Rule 40.
What is the Olympic Charter?
The Olympic Charter is the guiding document for the entire Olympic Movement. It defines the mission and role of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and other Olympic entities. It also provides rules for the organisation and administration of the Olympic Games, as well as guidance on disciplinary procedures and other governance issues. The Charter calls on the IOC “to oppose any political or commercial abuse of sport and athletes.”
What is the purpose of Rule 40?
Rule 40 is in place for various reasons, including the following:
Rule 40 helps preserve the unique nature of the Olympic Games by preventing over- commercialisation. It also helps to preserve sources of funding used to ensure that athletes from countries around the world can compete at the Olympic Games, for the development of sport worldwide and for the continued celebration of the Olympic Games. It helps combat ambush marketing, which can jeopardise that funding and undermine the Olympic Games. Together with other Olympic Charter principles, Rule 40 also aims to ensure that the performance of the athletes remains the focus of the Olympic Games.
Who does Rule 40 apply to?
Rule 40 applies only to competitors, coaches, trainers and officials participating in the relevant edition of the Olympic Games. It does not apply to Olympians who have competed in previous Olympic Games but are not participating in the current edition of the Olympic Games in any capacity.
What is regarded as “advertising” for the purposes of Rule 40?
Any kind of commercial promotion, including (for example) traditional press adverts, billboards, television, radio and online advertising, PR (including personal appearances and press releases), on- product promotions, in-store promotions, corporate websites, social networking sites, blogs and viral adverts.
So, for example, an athlete sharing information about, or commenting on, one of his or her sponsors on social media or on the athlete’s own website would be considered to be engaging in “advertising” under Rule 40 and would not be allowed. In the context of your internet and social media activities, you should also keep in mind the provisions of the “IOC Social Media, Blogging and Internet Guidelines” for participants and other accredited persons at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games and any additional restrictions imposed by your NOC.
Does Rule 40 restrict an athlete’s ability to get personal sponsorship?
Athletes can have personal sponsorship or endorsement deals with commercial partners. The limited application of Rule 40 during the Olympic Games period means that athletes and their sponsors can still activate such sponsorships or endorsements outside this short period.
Are there any exceptions to Rule 40?
Exceptions for Olympic commercial partners
Athletes can, during the period of the Olympic Games, allow their image to be used by Olympic commercial partners who have obtained the required permission, without being in breach of Rule 40. If you have any doubt about the ability of an official Olympic partner to use your image, or the kinds of advertising allowed, please contact your NOC.
Specifically, Olympic commercial partners can, during the Olympic Games, use competitors for certain types of advertising, with the permission of the athlete and relevant Olympic body. These partners include the international sponsors of the Olympic Movement (the TOP partners), the sponsors of the Olympic Games, the sponsors of NOCs and their Olympic teams and the official broadcasters of the Olympic Games.
These exceptions are managed by the IOC (in the case of TOP partners and official broadcasters), the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (in the case of sponsors of the Olympic Games) and the National Olympic Committees (in the case of NOC and National Olympic Team sponsors).
Exceptions for entities other than Olympic commercial partners
In addition, certain NOCs may allow entities that are not Olympic commercial partners to use an athlete’s image for advertising during the Olympic Games, which could include an athlete’s personal sponsor. It is for each NOC to decide whether or not to allow this and certain conditions may apply, so please check with your NOC.
Who manages Rule 40?
The NOCs are responsible for the implementation of this rule in their respective territories and are your first point of contact for any questions in this regard. NOCs can issue their own requirements in relation to Rule 40 and its implementation, and participants should not hesitate to request guidance from their NOC on these matters. Local laws may also impact how Rule 40 is implemented in a specific country or territory.
What happens if I breach Rule 40?
If the IOC is made aware of a potential breach of Rule 40, it will treat each case individually depending on what is said or done.
Who should I contact for further information?
This document is intended as a practical guide for athletes on the application of Rule 40. It is not a comprehensive guide to Rule 40, or the Olympic Charter. The management of Rule 40 in each country is delegated to the NOC of the relevant country, or to the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games in the host country. NOCs may impose additional requirements.
You should get in touch with your NOC for further information. If they are in doubt in regard to specific questions, they will contact the IOC.
Can I also contact the IOC directly?
The IOC Athletes Commission may be contacted for any athlete-related questions, advice and information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Olympic Games have more diversity and bring together more people from more places than any other sporting event anywhere in the world. Competitors and spectators at the Games come from very different backgrounds, with different languages, different cultures, different traditions, different religions and different political views. The magic of the Games is their ability to promote unity and harmony amid all this diversity.
The Games are about sport, and the IOC feels a special obligation both to ensure that the focus is on the athletes and their competition without being drawn into political controversies, and to provide a Games environment that lets athletes compete without distractions from divisive and emotional issues outside the world of sport. Rule 50 helps to achieve this objective.
Rule 50 has four main goals:
First, to protect athletes
Second, to prevent the over-commercialisation of the Games and to keep the Olympic venues – (i.e. the field of play) free from advertising. This is known as the “clean venue” policy.
Third, to prevent the Games from being used as a platform for protests, demonstrations or the promotion of political, religious or racial propaganda.
Fourth, to define the rules for manufacturers’ identifications and other identifying features on sports uniforms and equipment, to prevent unauthorised commercial, political, religious or racial propaganda.
We hope that this document can give you the answers to some of the questions you may have, and to explain why we have Rule 50.
What is the Olympic Charter?
The Olympic Charter is the guiding document for the entire Olympic Movement. It defines the mission and role of the International Olympic Committee, National Olympic Committees and other Olympic entities. It also provides rules for the organisation and administration of the Olympic Games, as well as guidance on disciplinary procedures and other governance issues. The Charter calls on the IOC “to oppose any political or commercial abuse of sport and athletes”.
When does Rule 50 apply and to whom does it apply?
Rule 50, which is in place during Games time, applies to all the athletes, officials and other people accredited within Olympic Games venues and sites. Games spectators are also expected to comply.
How can I express myself under Rule 50?
As an athlete, you are of course free to express your opinions. During the Games you should in particular feel free to answer questions, but only if you wish to, if asked in a press conference or mixed zone, in a media interview or on social media.
Rule 50 is not intended to stifle public debate on any topic. However, the IOC believes that the Olympic Village and the other Games venues and sites should focus on sport and remain free from advertising/publicity or any kind of demonstrations or political, religious and racial propaganda.
What can I say on social media?
Subject to any additional restrictions which your own NOC may impose, Rule 50 applies only within Olympic sites and venues and not to the internet and social media activities of athletes and other accredited persons, who are encouraged to post, blog and tweet their experiences from the Olympic Games.
However, participants should make sure that their postings, blogs and tweets conform to the Olympic spirit, are dignified and in good taste, and not discriminatory, offensive, hateful, defamatory or otherwise illegal. For further information on this question, please refer to the “IOC Social Media, Blogging and Internet Guidelines” for participants and other accredited persons at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
What I can wear on the field of play or during ceremonies?
There are specific guidelines regarding what can be worn on the field of play and during the Opening, Closing and Victory ceremonies. Athletes should only wear their official uniforms on the field of play. If you have any questions about whether something is permissible, you should consult with your NOC’s Chef de Mission. Olympic venues and sites are not the place for proactive protests, demonstrations or displays of commercial messages.
Your NOC is fully aware of these guidelines and can reply to any questions you may have in this regard ahead of the Games. Once you arrive in Sochi, you will see that all venues will display self- explanatory posters.
What happens if I breach Rule 50?
If the IOC is made aware of a potential breach of Rule 50, it will treat each case individually depending on what is said or done.
Can I contact the IOC directly if I have questions or comments on Rule 50?
The IOC Athletes’ Commission is reachable for any athlete-related questions, advice and information at email@example.com.
The IOC actively encourages and supports athletes and other accredited persons at the Olympic Games to take part in social media and to post, blog and tweet their experiences. Such activity must respect the Olympic Charter and must comply with the following.
Capitalised terms used in these Social Media, Blogging and Internet Guidelines have the meaning set out in the Definitions section at the end of these Guidelines.
These Guidelines apply to all Participants and Other Accredited Persons, from the opening of the Olympic Villages on 30 January 2014, until the closing of the Olympic Villages on 26 February 2014.
2. Postings, Blogs and Tweets
The IOC encourages Participants and Other Accredited Persons to post comments on social media platforms or websites and tweet during the Olympic Games, and it is entirely acceptable for any Participant or Other Accredited Person to do a personal posting, blog or tweet. However, any such postings, blogs or tweets must be in a first-person, diary-type format. Participants and Other Accredited Persons must not assume the role of a journalist, reporter or any other media capacity, or disclose any information which is confidential or private in relation to any other person or organisation.
Postings, blogs and tweets should at all times conform to the Olympic spirit and fundamental principles of Olympism as contained in the Olympic Charter, be dignified and in good taste, and should not be discriminatory, offensive, hateful, defamatory or otherwise illegal and shall not contain vulgar or obscene words or images.
Participants and Other Accredited Persons can post still photographs taken within Olympic Venues on social media platforms or websites for personal use. It is not permitted to commercialise, sell or otherwise distribute these photographs.
Participants and Other Accredited Persons cannot post any video and/or audio of the events, competitions or any other activities which occur at Olympic Venues (including the Olympic Villages). Such video and/or audio must only be taken for personal use and in particular must not be uploaded and/or shared to a posting, blog or tweet on any social media platforms, or to a website.
Photographs, video and/or audio that are taken outside of Olympic Venues are not subject to the above-noted restrictions and can be shared on websites and social media platforms, provided they comply with the other requirements included in these Guidelines.
5. Participants and Other Accredited Persons staying in the Olympic Villages
Because of the protected environment, there are more restrictive guidelines for the residential area of the Olympic Villages in order to protect the residents’ privacy: Participants and Other Accredited Persons staying in the Olympic Villages must not report on the activities of other residents, without such persons’ consent. Photos of the Participants or Other Accredited Persons themselves in the Olympic Villages can be posted, but if any other persons appear in the photo, their prior permission must be obtained by the person posting such photo.
6. Accredited Media
Accredited media may freely utilise social media platforms or websites for bona fide reporting purposes. Photos taken by accredited photographers may be published for editorial purposes on social media platforms or websites in accordance with the Photographers Undertaking. The Olympic symbol – i.e. the five interlaced rings, which is the property of the IOC – can be used by accredited media for factual and editorial purposes, for example in a news article covering the Olympic Games. All other provisions of these Guidelines apply.
7. Olympic Properties
Participants and Other Accredited Persons must not use the Olympic Symbol on their postings, blogs or tweets on any social media platforms or on any websites. Participants and Other Accredited Persons may use the word “Olympic” and other Olympic-related words on their postings, blogs or tweets on any social media platforms or on their websites, as a factual reference, provided that the word “Olympic” and other Olympic- related words are not associated with any third party or any third party’s products or services. Participants and Other Accredited Persons must not use other Olympic properties such as NOC and/or Sochi 2014 emblems or mascots on their postings, blogs or tweets on any social media platforms or on any websites, unless they have obtained the prior written approval of their relevant NOC and/or Sochi 2014.
8. Advertising and Sponsorship
Social media activity by Participants and Other Accredited Persons during the period of the Olympic Games should be undertaken for the purposes of sharing their experiences and communicating with their friends, family and supporters and not for commercial and/or advertising purposes. As is the case outside of the period of Olympic Games, the social media activity of Participants and Other Accredited Persons should not be used to create or imply any association between, on the one hand, a third party, or a third party’s products and services, and, on the other hand, the IOC, the Olympic Games or the Olympic Movement, unless they have obtained the prior written approval of the IOC and/or the relevant NOC(s). All accredited competitors, coaches, trainers and officials should also note their obligations relating to Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter. Specific guidance in relation to Rule 40 will be made available by the IOC and the NOCs.
9. Domain Names/URLs/Page Naming/Applications
Domain names and URLs including the word “Olympic” or “Olympics” or any similar words related thereto (or any foreign language equivalents thereof) are not allowed unless approved by the IOC beforehand. For example, www.[myname]olympic.com would not be permitted while www.[myname].com/olympic would be allowed, but only during the period during which these Guidelines are applicable. Similarly, Participants and Other Accredited Persons may not create stand-alone Olympic-themed websites, application or any other feature to host coverage of the Olympic Games.
The IOC encourages Participants and Other Accredited Persons to “link” their blogs, websites or social media accounts to the official site of the Olympic Movement (www.olympic.org), the official site of the Olympic Games (www.sochi2014.com) and the official site of the relevant NOC.
When Participants and Other Accredited Persons choose to go public with any comments, opinions and any other material in any way, including on a posting, blog or tweet on any social media platforms or on any websites, they are solely responsible for the consequences of their action. They must ensure that when doing so they comply with applicable laws and that they have obtained all necessary permissions from any third parties whose image or property is used in their posting, blog or tweet. Participants and Other Accredited Persons can be held personally liable for any commentary and/or material deemed to be obscene, offensive, defamatory or otherwise illegal, or infringing on any third party’s rights. They should not (i) intrude upon the privacy of Participants and Other Accredited Persons and entities at the Olympic Games without the consent of such participants, persons and entities, (ii) interfere with the competitions or the ceremonies of the Olympic Games or with the role and responsibilities of the IOC, SOCHI2014 or other entities that are part of the organisation of the Olympic Games, or (iii) violate security measures instituted to ensure the safe conduct of the Olympic Games. In essence, Participants and Other Accredited Persons post their opinions and any other materials at their own risk and they should make it clear that the views expressed are their own.
The accreditations of any organisation or person accredited at the Olympic Games may be withdrawn without notice, at the discretion of the IOC, for purposes of ensuring compliance with these Guidelines. The IOC reserves all its right to take any other appropriate measures with respect to infringements of these Guidelines, including issuing a Take Down Notice, taking legal action for damages, and imposing other sanctions. Participants and Other Accredited Persons may also be subject to additional guidelines and sanctions in respect of social media, blogging and internet, from their relevant NOC.
The IOC reserves the right to amend these Guidelines, as it deems appropriate. The IOC Executive Board shall be the final authority with respect to the interpretation and implementation of these Guidelines. The English version of these Guidelines will prevail.
“Guidelines” means the IOC Social Media, Blogging and Internet Guidelines for participants and other accredited persons at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games
“IOC” means the International Olympic Committee
“SOCHI2014” means the Organizing Committee of the XXII Olympic Winter Games and XI Paralympic Winter Games of 2014 in Sochi
“NOC” means National Olympic Committee
“Olympic Games” means the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, to be held between 7 and 23 February 2014
“Olympic Venues” shall include all venues which require an Olympic accreditation card or ticket to gain entry, including the Olympic Villages, Olympic Village Plaza, Medals Plaza, the competition venues, the training and practice venues and the Olympic Park Common Domain
“Olympic Park Common Domain” means the primary Olympic site in the Coastal Cluster in Sochi which contains multiple Olympic venues including all Ice Sport venues, the Medals Plaza, the Olympic Village and Olympic Stadium where the Opening and Closing Ceremonies will be held, and numerous other facilities. For the sake of these Guidelines, the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) and Main Press Centre (MPC) are located outside the Olympic Park Common Domain.
“Participants and Other Accredited Persons” means all accredited persons, in particular all athletes, coaches, officials, personnel of NOCs and International Sport Federations and members of media accredited to the Olympic Games
“Take Down Notice” means a notice requiring a Participant or other accredited person or third party to take down any content from any website, blog or social media platform, in whole or in part within a specified time
“Olympic Village Plaza” means the plaza which will be located adjacent to but separated from the residential zone of the Olympic Villages which will host a number of activities including Team Welcome Ceremonies.
These FAQ are provided by the IOC for information purposes only. Participants and other accredited persons are invited to consult the IOC Social Media, Blogging and Internet Guidelines (the “Guidelines”) in their full version, available online at http://www.olympic.org/news/media-resources and the NOC Extranet.
Q: Who is concerned by the Guidelines?
A: The Guidelines apply to all accredited persons, in particular to all athletes, coaches, officials, personnel of National Olympic Committees and International Federations and members of media accredited to the Olympic Games (“Participants”).
Q: When do the Guidelines apply?
A: The Guidelines apply from the opening of the Olympic Villages (30 January 2014), until the closing of the Olympic Villages (26 February 2014).
Q: Can I use social media or update my blog/website during my participation in the Olympic Games?
A: YES; the IOC encourages Participants to blog about their experience at the Olympic Games but requests that certain rules are observed. In particular, Participants’ activities on social media and the internet should comply with the Olympic Charter and be consistent with the Olympic values of “Friendship, Excellence and Respect”. Also remember that any online activity is still subject to applicable laws (such as defamation, privacy and intellectual property laws) and so the Guidelines require Participants to respect those laws and ensure that their social media activity is in good taste, dignified and does not contain vulgar or obscene content. Postings that are racist, discriminatory or otherwise offensive towards other Participants or third parties are also forbidden under the Guidelines.
During the period of the Olympic Games, Participants are not allowed to commercialise their social media and internet activity (see further below “Can I post about my sponsors during the Olympic Games?”).
Q: Can I post about the competitions?
A: YES; Participants can post about their participation in the competitions, other competitions or their experiences generally during the Olympic Games, but they should not assume the role of a journalists or media outlet. Posting should hence be in first-person, diary-type format.
In their online activities, Participants must not disclose any information which is confidential or private in relation to any other person or organisation involved in the Olympic Games.
Q: Can I answer questions from the media asked through internet or social media?
A: YES; in the same way as offline, Participants are allowed - but under no obligation - to answer questions from the media asked through internet or social media. Participants should also be vigilant about their postings and keep in mind that what they say and post on the internet and social media will be in the public domain and may be used by the media.
Q: Can I share photos taken from Olympic venues?
A: YES; Participants can share still photographs taken within or outside competition venues and other Olympic venues on social media and internet provided such postings are not used for commercial purposes and respect applicable laws and the rights of others. Please note that specific requirements apply in the perimeter of the Olympic Villages (see below “Can I post photos or videos taken within the Olympic Villages?”).
Q: Can I share videos taken from Olympic Venues?
A: Participants can record video or audio content within or outside competition venues and other Olympic venues, with non-professional recording material (no TV equipment, tripods or monopods are allowed).
However, video or audio content taken from within Olympic venues (including from within the Olympic Villages or the Olympic Park) must only be for personal use and must not be uploaded or shared on any website, blog, social media page, public photo- or video- sharing sites or mobile application.
Participants can share video or audio content taken outside competition venues and other Olympic venues on social media and the internet provided that such posting is not for commercial purposes and respect applicable laws and the rights of others.
Q: Can I post photos or videos taken within the Olympic Villages?
A: YES; Participants can take photos within the Olympic Villages (except in areas designated as “no picture areas”) and such photos can be posted on the internet or social media. However, it is important to keep in mind that if another person’s image is included or referred to in a posting, such person’s permission should be obtained beforehand.
Videos or audio content recorded within the Olympic Village must only be for personal use and must not be uploaded or shared on any website, blog, social media page, public photo- or video-sharing sites or mobile application.
Persons staying in the Olympic Villages are also required to respect the protected atmosphere of the Olympic Villages and are not allowed to report on the activities of other residents, unless they have obtained such other persons’ consent beforehand.
Q: Can I post about my sponsors during the Olympic Games?
A: NO; Unless they have obtained the prior written approval of the IOC or their NOC, Participants must not, either promote any brand, product or service on their social media pages, blogs or personal websites, or use social media and internet in a manner that creates or implies any association between the Olympic Games or the IOC and a third party, or its products and services.
All competitors, coaches, trainers and officials must ensure that their activities on the internet and social media comply with the requirements of Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter and the related instructions issued by the IOC, Sochi 2014 and their respective National Olympic Committees.
Q: Can I use the Olympic symbol or other Olympic properties in my internet and social media posts?
A: Participants and other accredited persons are not allowed to use the Olympic symbol (the five interlocking rings) in their postings, blogs or tweets. Only members of accredited media are authorised to use the Olympic symbol for factual and news editorial purposes, for example in a news article covering the Olympic Games.
The word “Olympic” and other Olympic-related terminology can be used by Participants in their social media and internet activities but only for editorial/factual purposes (for example to describe and report about their experience at the Games). The use of the Sochi 2014 emblem or mascots is subject to the prior written approval of Sochi 2014, while the use of the NOC emblems is subject to the relevant NOCs.
In any event, the Olympic symbol and other Olympic properties must not be used for commercial purposes, or in a manner that suggests any kind of endorsement by the IOC or Sochi 2014. The Olympic symbol and other Olympic properties should be used in their normal design or wording.