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With the track world now firmly wedged between the 2019 World Championships — which just finished in Doha, Qatar — and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee has announced significant changes regarding Rule 40, which provides guidelines for athletes and their sponsors.
Athletes can now explicitly thank their sponsors during the Olympics, no longer barred as they were previously.
Here are the major points of change, according to the USOPC press release:
- Athletes are now able to thank personal sponsors during the Games.
- Athletes are now able to receive congratulatory messages from personal sponsors during the Games.
- Athlete personal sponsors are now able to engage in generic advertising during the Games.
- Official partners maintain continued exclusivity around Team USA and Games marks and imagery.
- Official partners receive increased ambush protection through the introduction of a Personal Sponsor Commitment.
- All existing partner benefits related to timing and support of USOPC partner staff continue.
In other words: very good news for athletes! The changes mean more marketing opportunities for these athletes and more exposure for the sport in general during their highest-profile event.
You might remember Emma Coburn's tussle with Rule 40 back in the 2016 Olympics, when she touted her New Balance spikes above her shoulder in a clever evasion of the specific language of the rule. Some, like former distance runner Josh Cox, are already reacting positively to the news.
Finally. Athletes can now thank their personal sponsors at the Olympic Games. Non-Olympic sponsors can now congratulate their athletes at the Games (and have ad campaigns).— Josh Cox (@JoshCox) October 8, 2019
Without these sponsors athletes would never reach the Games.
Huge breakthrough for the sport. https://t.co/3sL3p83Km6 pic.twitter.com/WEz1BcGBxT
“We are sharing an updated Rule 40 guidance that embraces the athlete perspective while honoring critical support USOPC, IOC and IPC partners provide for the Olympic and Paralympic movements,” said USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland. “We worked to create a guidance that increases athlete marketing opportunities and, importantly, respects Rule 40 and affirms our commitment to providing value to our partners, and maintains funding and participation pathways for Team USA, and athletes around the world.”
Find the full press release here.