Scrap Olympic Charter Rule 50 Barring Freedom Of Expression: Global Athlete Calls On Olympic and Paralympic Sponsors To Back Athletes’ Rights
The TOP sponsors of Olympic sport must demand that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) “respect athlete freedom of expression and rescind Olympic Charter Rule 50 .2 and IPC Section 2.2“.
That’s the call from Global Athlete, the professional sports representation advocate, today as it turns to the funders and backers of Olympic sports and urges them to show support for the athletes who provide the show the sponsors invest in for gain through association with excellence, high achievers and their achievements.
The Global Athlete social media campaign has already started to appeal directly to sponsors:
The .2 part of Olympic Charter Rule 50 – Advertising, demonstrations, propaganda – and its associated By-Laws block athletes right to free speech and freedom of expression, and permit the IOC and member National Olympic Committees to sanction athletes who exercise their rights, including that of peaceful protest enshrined in international and national laws in many parts of the world.
Says Global Athlete: “With an investment of USD 1.03 billion per quadrennial, TOP Sponsors have the power and the responsibility to shape global sport and ensure that universal human rights extend to every athlete from every sport and every corner of the globe: on the podium, on the field of play, and peacefully protesting at home.”
It further notes:
“The suppression of athlete speech at the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the racist history of that suppression is antithetical to the values TOP Sponsors espouse. To protect their investments and uphold their social responsibilities, these companies must immediately call for the IOC and IPC to align with the United Nations Universal Human Rights.”
Olympic Charter Rule 50 – 2 – Advertising,
- Except as may be authorised by the IOC Executive Board on an exceptional basis, no form of advertising or other publicity shall be allowed in and above the stadia, venues and other competition areas which are considered as part of the Olympic sites. Commercial installations and advertising signs shall not be allowed in the stadia, venues or other sports grounds.
- No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.
Bye-law to Rule 50
- No form of publicity or propaganda, commercial or otherwise, may appear on persons, on sportswear, accessories or, more generally, on any article of clothing or equipment whatsoever worn or used by all competitors, team officials, other team personnel and all other participants in the Olympic Games, except for the identification – as defined in paragraph 8 below – of the manufacturer of the article or equipment concerned, provided that such identification shall not be marked conspicuously for advertising purposes.
The IOC Executive Board shall adopt guidelines that provide further details on the implementation of this principle.
Any violation of this Bye-law 1 and the guidelines adopted hereunder may result in disqualification of the person or delegation concerned, or withdrawal of the accreditation of the person or delegation concerned, without prejudice to further measures and sanctions which may be pronounced by the IOC Executive Board or Session.
The numbers worn by competitors may not display publicity of any kind and must bear the Olympic emblem of the OCOG.
- Any mascot created for the Olympic Games shall be considered to be an Olympic emblem, the design of which must be submitted by the OCOG to the IOC Executive Board for its approval. Such mascot may not be used for commercial purposes in the country of an NOC without the latter’s prior written approval.
- To be valid, all contracts of the OCOG providing for any element of advertising, including the right or license to use the emblem or the mascot of the Olympic Games, must be in conformity with the Olympic Charter and must comply with the instructions given by the IOC Executive Board. The same shall apply to contracts relating to the timing equipment, the scoreboards, and to the injection of any identification signal in television programmes. Breaches of these regulations come under the authority of the Executive Board.
- The OCOG shall ensure the protection of the property of the emblem and the mascot of the Olympic Games for the benefit of the IOC, both nationally and internationally. However, the OCOG alone and, after the OCOG has been wound up, the NOC of the country of the host, may exploit such emblem and mascot, as well as other marks,
91 The Olympic Games
designs, badges, posters, objects and documents connected with the Olympic Games during their preparation and celebration and terminating not later than the end of the calendar year during which such Olympic Games are held. Upon the expiry of this period, all rights in or relating to such emblem, mascot and other marks, designs, badges, posters, objects and documents shall thereafter belong entirely to the IOC. The OCOG and/or the NOC, as the case may be and to the extent necessary, shall act as trustees (in a fiduciary capacity) for the sole benefit of the IOC in this respect.
- The provisions of this Bye-law also apply, mutatis mutandis, to all contracts signed by the organising committee of a Session or an Olympic Congress.
- The uniforms of the competitors, team officials, and other team personnel may include the flag or Olympic emblem of their NOC and, with the consent of the OCOG, the OCOG Olympic emblem. The IF officials may wear the uniform and the emblem of their IF.
- The identification on all technical gear, installations and other apparatus, which are neither worn nor used by competitors, team officials, other team personnel or any other participants in the Olympic Games, including timing equipment and scoreboards, may on no account be larger than 1/10th of the height of the equipment, installation or apparatus in question, and shall not be greater than 10 cm high.
- The word “identification” means the normal display of the name, designation, trademark, logo or any other distinctive sign of the manufacturer of the item, appearing not more than once per item.
- The OCOG, all competitors, team officials, other team personnel and all other participants in the Olympic Games shall comply with the relevant manuals, guides, regulations or guidelines, and all other instructions of the IOC Executive Board, in respect of all matters subject to Rule 50 and this Bye-law.
The Global Athlete Statement – Olympic Charter Rule 50
29 January 2021: Today we are calling on all International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) TOP Sponsors to demand that the IOC and IPC respect athlete freedom of expression and rescind Olympic Charter Rule 50.2 and IPC Section 2.2. The suppression of athlete speech at the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the racist history of that suppression is antithetical to the values TOP Sponsors espouse. To protect their investments and uphold their social responsibilities, these companies must immediately call for the IOC and IPC to align with the United Nations Universal Human Rights.
TOP Sponsors have responded to the current moment by strongly condemning structural racism and committing to making their companies and the world more inclusive. Now is the time to act on those promises.
With an investment of USD 1.03 billion per quadrennial, TOP Sponsors have the power and the responsibility to shape global sport and ensure that universal human rights extend to every athlete from every sport and every corner of the globe: on the podium, on the field of play, and peacefully protesting at home.
For 53 years, Rule 50.2 has been used as a tool of racial oppression. It has violated athletes’ universal right to freedom of expression and has been used to silence athletes who raise their voices, or their fists, for justice. Without action, TOP Sponsors are complicit in this oppression.
It is time for change. Over the past two years we have seen corporations around the world, including many TOP Sponsors, recognize their social responsibility and broaden their purpose to serve all stakeholders. Marketing investments in the Olympic and Paralympic movements must be a part of this corporate realignment; continued support of the IOC and IPC must be contingent on the sport administrators upholding human rights for all athletes. After all, the value of the investment comes from athletes.
Silencing the athlete voice has led to oppression, silence has led to abuse, and silence has led to discrimination in sport. It is time for the underwriters of the Olympic and Paralympic movements to hold the IOC and IPC accountable. Athletes and human rights must come first.
Olympic & Paralympic TOP Sponsors include:
Airbnb, Alibaba Group, Allianz, Atos, Bridgestone, Coca Cola, Dow(only Olympic), General Electric(only Olympic), Intel, Omega, ottobock. (only Paralympic), Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Toyota, Visa*
*Denotes statements made to stand for social and racial injustice.
Comments on the IOC’s Consultation on Athlete Demonstrations
The IOC’s Consultation on Athlete Demonstrations is an inadequate response to the current movement. Global Athlete has worked with independent social science and marketing research experts to analyze recent surveys conducted by athlete groups, including the IOC’s survey. The experts indicate that the survey methodologies and subsequent reporting are flawed and are not in line with research best practice. Consequently, the results may be unreliable or of little value in attempting to draw conclusions about athlete views on demonstrations at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
In addition, the IOC’s Athlete365 website, on a page dedicated to Rule 50 information, includes a list of NOC Findings with correlating links. Conspicuously absent are the findings of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee who came out with a strong stance in support of athlete freedom of expression as a human right.
The IOC and IPC do not compensate or employ athletes attending the Games. In fact, the IOC and IPC require athletes to sign away many rights. After devoting years of their lives to qualify for the Olympics/Paralympics, athletes have no choice but to sign these documents. Athletes do not voluntarily give up these rights; they are given the false choice between maintaining their rights and continuing their careers.
If athletes want to speak up – in a way which respects the rights and freedoms of others as detailed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the sport community, and sponsors, should embrace their diverse opinions. Silencing athletes should never be tolerated and to threaten them with removal from the Olympic/Paralympic Games is another sign of the imbalance of power between sport leaders and athletes.