The International Olympic Committee’s loosening of iron-fisted rules around sponsorship gives Canada’s Olympians more commercial wiggle room in Tokyo this summer.
Under pressure from athletes, the IOC now allows for a more liberal interpretation of rules that govern the way athletes engage with their personal sponsors during an Olympic Games.
The Canadian Olympic Committee revealed its updated guidelines around Rule 40 for the 2020 Tokyo Games on Tuesday.
“She along with some other athletes have contractual commitments to their personal footwear and apparel brands that conflict with those of the COC,” her agent Brian Levine said at the time.
“Come the opening ceremony … of course they’re going to proudly don the official Team Canada apparel and footwear and all that stuff. They’ve been named to the team, they’re at the Olympics. That’s the understanding.”
Sport climbing makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo. Sean McColl of North Vancouver, B.C., is already accustomed to accommodating competing sponsors.
He’s backed by Adidas. Climbing events are staked by Mountain Equipment Co-op, so he wears an MEC logo in competition too.
“It’s a big beast,” the climber acknowledged. “It’s kind of like two parallel universes that I’m jumping back and forth in between.
“I think that’s just the way the world of sports is.”
A quick look at the changing rules around Olympic athletes and sponsorship
Canadian athletes can:
— continue to appear in long-standing (minimum 90 days before Games), generic advertising campaigns of personal sponsors with no escalation during the Games.
— thank personal sponsors during the Games and receive congratulatory messages from personal sponsors.
Canadian athletes can’t:
— appear in advertising campaigns or on social media posts of non-Olympic sponsors that include intellectual property such as the Olympic rings, Games images or Canadian Olympic team trademarks.