London, July 18 (ANI): The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), along with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has begun a moratorium on athletes from marketing themselves through companies that aren't official Olympic sponsors ahead of the London 2012 Olympics.
The freeze is reported to hold throughout the tournament till Aug. 15, three days after the Games conclude.
The rules date back to the days when all Olympic athletes were amateurs, and companies tried to profit by tangentially associating themselves with medal winners.
Termed as 'ambush marketing' by the USOC, it led to the current restriction, known as Rule 40, included in the athletes' code of conduct, which if violated could be sanctions including, ultimately, disqualification from the Games, according to a USOC pamphlet distributed to athletes.
Ambush marketing seems to be an issue that continues to rear its head in every Games. There are ambush marketers out there that want to imply an association with the Olympics. They'll take terminology; imagery, and they will get very close or crossing the line to really imply that they are a sponsor. That hurts us, the Washington Post quoted Lisa Baird, the USOC's chief marketing officer, as saying.
However, several athletes and their representatives have slammed the regulation.
Absolutely terrible, said Erika Wright, who represents Lochte. Evan Morgenstein, the chief executive of PMG Sports, whose client list includes several prominent swimmers, gymnasts, skiers and other athletes, and claimed the USOC has rendered these kids indentured servants.
The IOC allows official association with the Games, use of the Olympic rings, images of venues and the like, to 11 worldwide sponsors, companies such as Coca-Cola, General Electric and McDonald's, deals, which have been estimated to be worth 100 million dollars for every four years, while the USOC receives 20 percent of the revenue generated from those deals.
The USOC also has relationships with a long list of companies such as Deloitte, Hilton, Kellogg's, Nike, among others that grants those companies rights to use Olympic themes in its ads domestically. (ANI)