Publication Date

December 2019


This paper explores the history, legality and ethical perspectives of the International Olympic Committee Rule #40 that was put into effect starting with the 2016 Olympic Games. Rule 40 was established to protect official Olympic sponsors from marketing campaign dilution and ambush marketing attempts from non-official brand sponsors. It was designed to prevent over-commercialization of the Olympic brand and to protect official Olympic sponsors’ substantial investment for exclusive marketing rights during the Games. It also however effectively prevents athletes from recognizing their own individual company sponsors and goes so far as to limit an athlete’s apparel during the Games, their freedom of speech, and freedom of expression on social media. While the rule places a ban on the use of any reference to the Olympic Games and a series of words and logos associated both before, during and after the games on all media, it may place an unfair restriction on the athletes themselves.



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