In the aftermath of Rule 40, track and field athletes from around the world are unionizing. The main purpose of the union would be to allow promotion of private sponsorship during major events, such as the Olympic Games. The union also seeks to gain a collective bargaining agreement and prize money in the Olympics.
Rule 40 became a major topic of debate during the 2012 Olympic Games between the Olympic Committee and athletes. The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games states, “Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter limits athletes competing in the Olympic Games from appearing in advertising during and shortly before the Olympic Games. This helps prevent ambush marketing which might otherwise utilize athletes to create an association with the Games.”
The rule severely hurts athletes who’s income is based on their promotion of their sponsor. Athletes were unable to display, discuss, or even tweet about their private sponsorships during the Games.
Athletes took to Twitter to originally voice their displeasure with Rule 40. Tweets that ended in #WeDemandChange became a popular hashtag to associate and consolidate rants on the subject.
Another issue is the lack of transparency by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in the decision making process. Adam Nelson, a two-time Olympic silver medalist, told ESPN, “To me, the most compelling reason for all athletes’ associations is a lack of representation and the lack of a voice at the decision-making level.”
There is an uneasy relationship between the IOC and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). The creation of this union will help further the sport because it will allow athletes to voice their opinion on the subject. Banded together, athletes will be able to have more leeway in the decision process than as individual superstars.
For the same reason players’ unions exist in any major sport, this track and field union is just another group of athletes who want to have their fair share in the sport.
Check out the full list of athletes and supporters here: http://flo.mx/Un9DaC
Updated on May 20, 2013, 11:35am