Olympic Athlete Sponsorship Changes Confirmed

Yesterday Sport for Business exclusively revealed the first news and analysis of how Irish athletes will be able to benefit from relaxed permissions to than individual sponsors while staying within the guidelines designed to protect the Olympics primary sponsors.

The balance between the individual and the greater good is incredibly important with sponsorship at the Olympic Federation of Ireland an important revenue stream in offsetting the estimated €3.2 million cost of preparing Team Ireland for Tokyo 2020.

In late 2019 / early 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 as well as its own sponsors and partners.

The result is a Rule 40 framework for Ireland 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 sports participation worldwide.

At the end of this month, athletes and Team Ireland members will be able to start applying for Rule 40 permissions in a three-step on-line process, that will see the launch of further illustrative guidance for athletes and their personal sponsors.

The Rule 40 guidance is specific to limited restrictions that apply for Team Ireland members during the Games Period which runs from 14 July 2020 – 11 August 2020. Outside of that period, normal rules relating to the protection of Team Ireland and Olympic intellectual property also apply.

“Following negotiations with the Athletes’ Commission and engagement with our sponsors and athlete agents, we have reached a fair agreement that sets the framework for the road to Tokyo,” said OFI CEO Peter Sherrard.

“We look forward to working closely with athletes in the coming period as the nomination and selection process for Team Ireland gets underway.”

“I would like to thank Peter for the open and collaborative approach our discussions on Rule 40,” added Shane O’Connor, Chair of the Athletes Commission.

“The outcome of these discussions represents a positive step forward for athletes who will be able to thank and be recognised by personal sponsors within a clearly defined framework during the Olympic Games period. We see this as a fair and balanced position for our athletes given current challenges.”

“As an Athletes’ Commission, we are conscious of the significant costs involved in ensuring our athletes have their needs looked after during the Olympic Games period and the need for sponsorship to support this work, not just in Ireland, but worldwide.”

“While there is little doubt this is a topic that will continue to be discussed and one which may continue to evolve over time, we believe that these guidelines, and the personal sponsor commitment, go a long way to creating the right environment for everyone involved in supporting the participation of our athletes while continuing to acknowledge the needs of our athletes themselves.”

The OFI also produced a simple Q and A guide to the regulations…

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.

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.

Who does this rule apply to?

All members of Team Ireland at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. 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.

What’s new?

The Olympic Federation of Ireland is committed to an Athlete first approach. In late 2019 / early 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.

Rule 40 permissions

From 28 February 2020, athletes will be able to obtain Team Ireland Rule 40 permissions in three simple steps:

An 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 complete Athletes and their Personal sponsors can apply for permissions.

When does it apply?

It applies for a less than a month and is called the Games Period from 14 July 2020 to 11 August 2020.

Image Credit: Sport for Business

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