Just gonna park this right here… pic.twitter.com/hp0MPFQApt
— Picky Bars (@pickybars) July 6, 2016
You may have noticed that athletes and companies recently have been using some unusual jargon in reference to the Olympic Games. “The big event down south” or “the city that rhymes with neo bee sin arrow,” are two such examples.
That’s because the International Olympic Committee is playing hardball with athletes and companies that are not official sponsors of the Games. Popular brands that sponsor Canadians, like New Balance and Asics, will have advertising limitations for the next month.
The IOC enforces limitations, known as Rule 40, on non-sponsors so they cannot reference any Olympic-related term towards an athlete on social media during a one-month blackout period. If Andre De Grasse wins gold in Rio? Puma, which is not an Olympic sponsor, will have to stay silent or face legal ramifications.
The rule is aimed to “preserve the unique nature of the Olympic Games by preventing over-commercialization.” Rule 40 applies to “athletes, coaches/trainers and officials participating in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.” Fans are exempt from the rule.
Major sponsors of the Olympics include Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Visa, Samsung, General Electric and Panasonic. A non-sponsor cannot use an athlete’s image to promote their brand. The rule is meant to protect the official sponsors’ investment in the Games and stop ambush marketing from non-sponsors.
IOC: Have you taken drugs in the past?
IOC: Welcome to Rio!
IOC: Wait, you tweeted about New Balance last week? Bye. #rule40
— David James (@fan_athletics) July 26, 2016
Terms including “Rio,” “effort,” “challenge” and many more are off-limits. The full list of words that could result in disciplinary action can be seen at the bottom of the page. Companies may get the help from individuals to promote their brand instead of using corporate accounts.
The blackout period came into effect on July 27 and will last until Aug. 24. Canada’s Olympic runners took to social media on July 26 to thanks sponsors to avoid any sort of disciplinary action.
— Hilary Stellingwerff (@hstellingwerff) July 27, 2016
Alright so tomorrow is the beginning of the Olympic black-out period know as Rule 40- this means for the next month I can't thank or post about any of my sponsors and they can't post or talk about me at all either. So here it goes- THANK-YOU SO FREAKIN MUCH to all of my amazing sponsors who have supported me over the years on this incredible journey to becoming an Olympian. I am so fortunate to have such awesome companies in my corner. @asicscanada @nuunhydration @smithoptics @ifkitsilano @cepcanada @radrollerteam @canfund @bc.athletics @prairieinnharriers. And to all my physios, chiros and RMTs who have kept me healthy & ready to race- you guys are the best- thank you. My friends and family- well you all know how much a love you guys. and of course my coach Richard Lee.- it hasn't been easy but here we are! Thanks rich:) This Olympic Dream would never happen without so many fantastic ppl in my life. Thank-you from the bottom of my heart everyone!!!!! #somuchlove #thankful #rule40 #roadtorio #asics #asicsgirl #bebrave #liveyourdream #nevergiveup PHOTO CREDIT – @christhornphotography
To circumvent the rule, some companies and organizations have gotten creative in congratulating or sending well wishes to athletes. Run Gum, for example, used the term “big event down south” to reference the Olympics.
— Run Gum (@RunGum) July 12, 2016
According to the BBC, athletes could even be in jeopardy of losing a medal if they’re found to be in violation of Rule 40.
— Kelly Sotherton (@KellySotherton) July 26, 2016
Terms that are not to be used
– Rio and Rio de Janeiro
– Olympic Games
– “Citius – Altius – Fortius” (the Olympic motto)
— Kris Mychasiw (@Mychasiw) July 27, 2016