Rule 40

Rule 40 is a by-law in the Olympic Charter stating that only approved sponsors may reference "Olympic-related terms".[1] It was introduced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to prevent so-called ambush marketing by companies who are not official sponsors and to sanction links between athletes and unofficial sponsors during a blackout period starting nine days before the opening of the Olympic Games and continuing until three days after the closing ceremony.[2][3]

Controversy sparked in the days before the 2016 Summer Olympics as Rule 40 was upheld in an effort to prevent companies from retweeting anything from the official Olympic Twitter account, or use official hashtags such as #Rio2016.[4][5]

The rules were loosened for American athletes for the 2016 Rio Olympics. United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) chief marketing officer, Lisa Baird said the decision was made to "address the dissatisfaction of athletes but also protect the rights of the Olympic rights holders.”[6] Companies not sponsoring the Olympics could make advertisements with Olympic athletes, but were not permitted to involve anything about the Olympics.

The German Cartel Office in 2019 declared that all German participants in the Olympics no longer had to abide by the IOC's ruling. The Cartel Office officials, agreed that many of their countries athletes rely on their sponsors to create a larger name and revenues for themselves. Since no athlete receives the money made by the IOC's sponsor advertising, Cartel president decided that "self marketing during the games plays a very important role," and he permitted the decision.[7]

The IOC added new updates to Rule 40 and created "Key Principles." The principles focus on how athletes can engage in monetary advertising practices with their sponsors, if they have any. The IOC manages the rules of the Olympic Charter, but they have stated that National Olympic Committees will be the main overseers of their respective countries.[8]

The USOPC has updated their protocols for Rule 40 for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Sponsors and their athletes alike, will be permitted to thank and congratulate one another during the Olympic events. Restrictions on what they can say will still be present. Athletes are limited to seven statements or social media posts gratifying their sponsors and sponsors will still not be permitted to include pictures or words regarding the Olympics.[9]


  1. ^ "Rio Olympics 2016: Athletes could face sanctions over controversial rule 40". BBC News. 27 July 2016. Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  2. ^ Roberts, Daniel (3 August 2016). "Why the biggest business story of the Rio Olympics is this marketing rule change". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  3. ^ Taylor, Charles R. (4 August 2016). "Sponsorship And Advertising Trends In The 2016 Rio Olympic Games: Three Things To Watch For". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  4. ^ Kulp, Patrick. "The Olympic committee wants to ban non-sponsor brands from tweeting about the games". Mashable. Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  5. ^ "Who can't tweet about #Rio2016?". BBC News. 31 July 2016. Retrieved 2016-08-06.
  6. ^ Grady, John (September 1, 2016). "The Rio 2016 Olympics: Analyzing Rule 40's Moment to Shine" (PDF). Sports Marketing Quarterly. 25: 182–184.
  7. ^ Staff, Reuters (2019-02-27). "Olympics: German athletes score advertising win over IOC for Games". Reuters. Retrieved 2021-03-20.
  8. ^ "Commercial Opportunities for Athletes at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020". Athlete365. Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  9. ^ Mather, Victor (2019-10-08). "I Won Olympic Gold. Now a Word From My Sponsor". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-03-20.