KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: A German tribunal has pushed open a door on an increasingly controversial Olympic Games rule restricting athletes’ sponsor recognition.
Under the notorious Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter, “no competitor may allow his person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games.”
The blanket ban becomes operative nine days before the Opening Ceremony of any Olympic Games and is maintained for three days after the Closing Ceremony.
Athletes are not even allowed to thank their sponsors on social media – a clearly hypocritical stand by the International Olympic Committee which monetises the Games to the tune of millions of dollars through not only television rights but advertising and sponsorship.
Now Germany’s Federal Cartel Office has ruled the regulation as “too far-reaching and thus . . . abusive conduct.”
The German Olympic sports federation (DOSB) and the IOC have conceded a duty to ease the regulations but this applies only, at the moment, to German sportsmen and women.
Andreas Mundt, head of the cartel office, said: “We wish to ensure that the advertising opportunities of German athletes and their sponsors during the Olympic Games, which the DOSB and IOC significantly restricted in the past, are extended.
“While athletes are the key figures of Olympic Games, they cannot benefit directly from the IOC’s high advertising revenue generated with official Olympic sponsors. However, as the Games mark the height of their sporting careers, self-promotion during the Games plays a very important role.
“Our decision grants German athletes more leeway when it comes to marketing themselves during the Olympic Games, for example as far as the use of certain ‘Olympic’ terms or their pictures taken in sports events, or social media activities are concerned.”
DOSB president Alfons Hörmann said: “The decision delivers justice to both sides: On the one hand, the athletes will benefit from the expansion of personal rights, on the other hand, protection is maintained for the sport financing model of the Olympic Games.”
The issue was brought before the cartel office by Association of the German Sporting Goods Industry.