Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games guidance for Team Ireland members
What is Rule 40?
Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter was introduced by the IOC to help ensure global participation at the Games and to provide very significant funding worldwide for International Sports Federations and National Olympic Committees. This in turn supports a significant portion of national athlete performance programmes, participation programmes, sporting events, and scholarships around the world, including Ireland. In short, it is a key driver for the support of sports worldwide.
On 19 February 2020, the OFI issued its own guidance on Rule 40 following consultation with the Athletes’ Commission, athlete agents and its own sponsors and partners.
This information and the guidelines are published here.
These guidelines apply to all members of Team Ireland at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games from 13 July 2021 to 10 August 2021. This includes athletes, substitute P athletes, sparring partners, coaches, technical support staff, Performance Directors and officials. All members of Team Ireland sign up to a Team Members Agreement (TMA) which sets out the framework for participation at the Games. At times we refer to athletes in the documentation produced by the Olympic Federation of Ireland for ease of reference, but these guidelines apply to all members of Team Ireland.
What does Rule 40 provide?
Athletes are able to generate income through personal sponsorships and appearing in advertising for those sponsors, and can continue to do so by being involved with well-planned advertising during the Olympic Games.
By accepting some limited restrictions on these activities during the Games, athletes who enjoy personal sponsorship deals are helping to secure funding to support all national Olympic teams.
In the case of OFI’s marketing programmes, by accepting some limited restrictions on their activities during the Games, athletes who enjoy personal sponsorship deals are also helping to support all participants within Team Ireland.
The Olympic Federation of Ireland is committed to an athlete first approach. In 2019 and 2020 the OFI engaged in negotiations with the Athletes’ Commission made up of current and former Irish Olympians and has also engaged with athlete agents and its own sponsors, partners and suppliers.
The result is a framework that on the one hand provides additional rights for Team Ireland athletes during the Games Period, including increased opportunity to recognise personal sponsors during the Games period, the ability to be recognised by personal sponsors during the Games period, and a shared responsibility for compliance with personal sponsors: previously the responsibility rested unfairly on the athlete alone. On the other hand, the framework also protects the solidarity principle which underpins the funding of athlete participation at the Games as well as support for performance programmes and scholarships.
What is meant by Rule 40 Permissions?
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Guidance for Team Ireland members makes it easier for athletes to engage in marketing by allowing athlete personal sponsors to obtain permissions detailed in the Team Ireland Rule 40 guidelines. This includes Generic Advertising which does not use any Olympic or Team Ireland IP and on-line thank you messages during the Games Period (13 July 2021 – 10 August 2021) that would ordinarily be restricted.
In order to apply for these permissions, athletes need to invite their personal sponsors to complete this online process and sign up to the Team Ireland Personal Sponsor Commitment.
Personal Sponsors who have not completed the Personal Sponsor Commitment will not be entitled to take advantage of the Permissions and will not be permitted to market an athlete in Ireland during the Rule 40 Games Period. Athletes whose personal sponsors have not completed the Personal Sponsor Commitment will also not be able to take advantage of the Permissions.>
Process for Obtaining Rule 40 Permission
Athlete registers his / her personal sponsor(s) in the Team Ireland Rule 40 system.
The Athlete’s personal sponsor(s) signs up to the Team Ireland Personal Sponsor Commitment.
Once the Personal Sponsor Commitment has been completed by the Personal Sponsor, Athletes and their Personal sponsors are eligible to obtain permissions available under the Team Ireland Rule 40 Guidelines.
The registration to obtain Personal Sponsor Permissions can happen at any time before 15 May 2021 and we advise all athletes and participants to register their personal sponsors and apply for permissions once they are included on the long lists submitted by their National Federations in March / April 2020, identifying them as being potential Team Ireland members for Tokyo 2020.
Personal sponsors must comply with the Personal Sponsor Commitment agreeing to specific anti-ambush terms. This is in addition to standard protections for Olympic and Paralympic IP that apply at all times. Even with this contract, at its core, Rule 40 is an IOC eligibility rule. As always, it is the shared responsibility of personal sponsors and athletes to be mindful of regulations as to not jeopardise athlete eligibility. Failure to comply may jeopardise the athlete’s Games eligibility.
Rule 40 Compliant Marketing
In Ireland, Rule 40 permission allows athlete marketing in two ways:
- Generic marketing of the product, service and brand or
- Athlete-focused marketing reflecting a personal sponsor’s support of an athlete’s participation in the Games
In both cases, the marketing must not use Olympic IP, including Games imagery, or otherwise imply any relationship between that personal sponsor or any of its products/services and Team Ireland, an NGB or the Games. The OFI and the IOC retain the right and sole discretion to determine if a use implies any relationship.
In order to avoid any implication that a personal sponsor is a sponsor of Team Ireland or the Games, marketing that specifically promotes brands, products or services can never be combined with advertising promoting the athlete’s Games participation in any manner. For example, during the Rule 40 period, athletes cannot retweet or repost generic marketing content promoting brands, products or services. All marketing must adhere to these guidelines to comply. When in doubt, contact the OFI commercial team for review via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This Olympic Federation of Ireland guidance applies to all marketing using Games participants during the Rule 40 period in Ireland regardless of the media platform and how its distributed. Advertising purposes include all forms of commercial promotion, including traditional advertising (e.g., print, TV, outdoor, online), direct advertising (e.g., emails, text messages, direct mail), social and digital media (e.g., posts, retweets, shares by athletes or sponsors), point of sale (e.g., on-product, on-retail premises) and public relations (e.g., press releases, personal appearances, lending or gifting of products). There is no distinction for Rule 40 between non-profit or for-profit organisations.
Generic advertising promotes the personal sponsor’s brand, products or services, where the only connection between the Games, the OFI, the IOC or Team Ireland is the fact the advertising uses an athlete’s image. In particular, it may not use Olympic IP, Games images, or make any direct or indirect visual or verbal reference to Team Ireland, the OFI, the Olympic movement or the Games. Additionally, generic advertising can never imply a relationship between a brand, product or service and Team Ireland, the OFI, the Olympic movement or the Games.
Generic advertising specific to athlete’s relationship with sponsor.
No use of Olympic IP or protected tag-line
Use of Olympic IP – Olympic Rings and designation Olympian.
Athlete Personal Sponsors are not permitted to use Olympic IP and marks
Generic advertising focused on athlete’s relationship with personal sponsor.
Reference to Olympic accomplishment (Olympians) balanced with non-Olympic accomplishment in descriptive biography
Athlete is wearing Team Ireland kit.
Does not balance Olympic accomplishment with non-Olympic accomplishment in descriptive biography.
Generic advertisement, specific to athlete’s relationship with personal sponsor.
Uses Olympic IP (Rings), makes reference to Team Ireland and image taken from within an Olympic venue.
In order to avoid confusion, athletes may not thank Olympic sponsors and personal sponsors in the same message (e.g., not ok to say “Thank You, Coca-Cola, Visa and [personal sponsor]."
Personal sponsors may retweet or repost a single athlete thank you on the original social media channel, without further text or edits, during the Games period. Additionally, personal sponsors cannot engage in paid advertising to support retweets or reposts of athlete thank you messages.
Athletes should review the IOC Guidance on online messages by participants for further IOC rules on online activities.
- “Thank you @company for supporting my journey”
“Thank you @company. #personal best”
“Thank you @company. #gold”
- Not Permitted
“Thank you @company. #Tokyo2020”
“Thank you @company. #TeamIreland"
“Thank you @company. Your [product] is the best”
"Thank you @company. You made my Olympic dreams come true”
“Thank you @company. Your [product] helped me win today”
Post uses generic image and copy.
Sponsor logo included only in conjunction with ‘thank you’ messaging.
Sponsor mentioned only once in written copy.
Post included Team Ireland branded kit.
Post promotes a product or service (e.g. copy and image – shuttlecock).
Sponsor mentioned more than once (copy and image).
Sponsor logo apart from thank you messaging.
Post uses generic unbranded image.
Sponsor mentioned only in conjunction with thank you messaging.
Sponsor mentioned only once (image).
Post uses image taken at an Olympic venue.
Sponsor mentioned with a Team Ireland sponsor.
Use of Olympic IP in reference ‘Olympic dreams come true’.
During the Rule 40 period, athlete personal sponsors who have obtained Rule 40 permission may re-circulate once (in its original form) that single thank you message on their social media platforms provided the Athlete Personal Sponsor does not:
- Comment on the thank you message before re-circulating it
- Engage in promotional activities to specifically increase the reach potential of the message (i.e. creating a Facebook boost post)
Games participants agree not to make commercial use of images of him/herself in OFI and/or Team Ireland apparel or branded items from the Games, or with Games medals, without the OFI’s consent.
Only official Games or Team Ireland / OFI sponsors may make commercial use of Olympic IP, including but not limited to still and moving images from the Games and trademarks such as:
- Olympic symbol;
- Games emblems, mascots, pictograms and graphics
- Flag/5-Ring emblems
- the words: Olympic, Olympics, Olympiad;
- the name of the host city of the Games + the year of the Games (e.g., Tokyo 2020)
- the names of Olympic Teams (e.g., Team Ireland)
- taglines such as Citius Altius Fortius;
Only Olympic sponsors may promote an association with Team Ireland, the Olympic Federation of Ireland, the Olympic movement, or the Games.
Rule 40 Commitments
As a condition to receiving Rule 40 permission, personal sponsors must commit to certain restrictions for the duration of the Rule 40 period, including the terms of this guidance and that:
- The personal sponsor has obtained all necessary consents and approvals from the athlete to be used in the advertising
- Advertising using an athlete during the Rule 40 period may not make negative, comparative claims (e.g., “our network is faster than [x’s]”).
- Advertising using an athlete during the Rule 40 period may not imply that any product or service enhanced the athlete’s performance.
- Advertising may not use the terms: Games, Winter Games or Summer Games in reference to the Olympic Games.
- Advertising may not use iconic Olympic words or imagery (including emojis), such as a torch, flame, laurel wreath, medal or podium.
- Advertising may not use Olympic Games venue or apparel imagery, either current or historic.
- Advertising constitutes a campaign that is not increased in frequency or substantially changed during the Rule 40 period as compared to same period in a non-Games year.
Additionally, Rule 40 permission does not authorise personal sponsors to act as a Games news source.
These guidelines apply only to Team Ireland athletes and campaigns targeted for use in Ireland. Team Ireland participants and their personal sponsors must also obtain IOC approval for any use of their images in advertising outside Ireland during the applicable Rule 40 period. The IOC’s guidance allows for generic advertising, based on the requirement that all non-Olympic partners notify the IOC, Tokyo 2020 and the affected NOC(s) of generic advertising plans outside of Ireland by no later than 15 May 2021, unless otherwise agreed by the IOC.
Similarly, commercial use in Ireland of a non-Team Ireland participant requires the consent of the participant’s home National Olympic Committee.
When in doubt, contact the OFI commercial team for review via email: email@example.com