The International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board proposed on Thursday to modify its Rule 40 provision, which forbids athletes from participating in advertising for their sponsors during the games unless those sponsors are Olympic commercial partners. Under the proposal, the IOC would allow “generic” or “non-Olympic” advertising during the games, according to a release.
As it stands now, the Olympic Charter states, “Except as permitted by the IOC Executive Board, no competitor, coach, trainer, or official who participates in the Olympic Games may allow his person, name, picture, or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games.” Any athletes who use their names or likenesses to promote their own sponsor during the Olympics could be disqualified or have their medals stripped, according to the AP.
The proposal is scheduled to be formally approved by the full IOC in July. Under the rule change, athletes would be able to promote a sponsor not affiliated with the games—as long as the advertisement doesn’t mention the Olympics. “It has to do with advertising around the games, on a social media site, or newspaper, or whatever,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams told the AP. “So if someone has a contract with a watch manufacturer, that may continue as long as the advert doesn’t relate to the games.”
Many athletes have protested Rule 40 in the past. Some launched a Twitter campaign during the London 2012 games under the hashtag #WeDemandChange2012. “Athletes have wanted this change for a very long time,” Adams added to the AP. “It’s been a very long discussion.”