Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What's the deal with #Rule40 that numerous track & field athletes are tweeting about?

With the track & field portion of the London Olympics starting on Friday, here's a smattering of links and stories in the run-up to the start of competition:


If you've been on Twitter, you've noticed that a bunch of American track & field athletes have tweeted to their followers a message that looks like this:

"@AthletesHandle I am honored to be an Olympian, but #rule40 #wedemandchange2012"

Rule 40 essentially is a rule stating that the athletes cannot participate in advertising or marketing campaigns during the period of the Olympics that conflict with official Olympic Games and national Olympic committee sponsors.

For example, Vancouver's Kara Patterson, who is sponsored by Asics, cannot use her Twitter account to acknowledge the Japanese company's support of her during the Olympic period, which began July 18th and ends on August 15th.

Here's a link to a post that she wrote about it.

However, athletes such as Sanya Richards-Ross, who has a marketing deal with Olympic sponsor British Petroleum, and Tyson Gay, who is sponsored by adidas (Olympic sportswear supplier), can be used in Olympic marketing.

So, what happens to an athlete who doesn't comply with Rule 40?

According to the handbook, which you can read and download here, "Participants who do not comply with Rule 40 may be sanctioned by the IOC and/or by the BOA in accordance with the Team Members’
Agreement (which provides for wide ranging sanctions, including amongst other things, removal of accreditation and financial penalties). Rule 23 of the Olympic Charter allows sanctions including, ultimately, disqualification from the Games and/or withdrawal of the Participant’s accreditation."

The sponsor police has already jumped on USA 1500m runner Leo Manzano after he posted a picture of the shoes (Nike) he'll use on his social media page, and was told to delete the photo.

Here are some links to get you started on understanding the athletes' beef with this, including an article in the Kansas City Star; and an article in Advertising Age.

Here's a link to the Sports Business Daily in which rapper Dr Dre has apparently beaten the Rule 40 guidelines by handing out Beats by Dre headphones to athletes, primarily on the British Olympic team, several of whom have word them as they were introduced before their races at the Aquatics Centre.


Our friends at adidas sent us a release a few days ago touting the new Primeknit running shoe, which features a new seamless engineering technology.

The shoe, which is their answer to Nike's Flyknit running shoe, has "no lining or reinforcements are necessary as the strength comes from the fused yarn, digitally knitted in distinct grid patterns to provide ventilation.  This unique seamless engineering ensures precision construction and eliminates additional materials producing less waste.  The lightweight running shoe wraps seamlessly around your foot for a comfortable fit."

More information on the adidas Primeknit shoe can be read here.

NOTE: adidas media relations contributed to this report.

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