Athlete Ombuds

Games-Specific Information

The U.S. Women's Basketball team celebrates winning the gold medal at the Olympic Games Rio 2016

2020 Tokyo Olympic & Paralympic Games


The International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee have published various rules, policies, and guidelines that are applicable to the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, and to all participants at the Games. These include guidelines about conduct, advertising restrictions, manufacturer identifications and placement limitations, social media usage, anti-doping and the prohibitions of the manipulation of competitions. It is imperative that athletes are astutely familiar with the restrictions that could potentially jeopardize their eligibility and right to compete in the Games.

Some sections apply to both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, while other sections are only applicable to one or the other (e.g. classification only applies to Paralympic sport). The summary information should not be used as all-inclusive coverage of any rule or policy. Please refer to the full document or contact the Office of the Athlete Ombuds if you have questions.

IOC Code of Ethics

As the International Olympic Committee notes, preserving the integrity of sport and fair play is fundamental to the Olympic Movement. The IOC Code of Ethics prohibits discrimination, harassment, doping, betting, and non-sporting conduct; and guarantees the safety and well-being of athletes. The Ethics Code expects all Olympic parties or representatives to act with integrity in fulfilling their mission.

As part of the code of ethics, the IOC has established the Olympic Movement Code on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions. In this, all National Olympic Committees must also declare their commitment to safeguard the integrity of sport and protect all competitions from the risk of manipulation. It prohibits betting, manipulation of sports competitions, corrupt conduct, using inside information for benefits, failing to report, or failing to cooperate with an investigation. Disciplinary procedures are in place for the enforcement of any alleged violations.


IPC Code of Ethics

As the International Paralympic Committee notes, Paralympic history and tradition are based on the principles of excellence in sport, opportunity to participate in fair competition, and enhancement of the dignity of athletes and sport. This necessitates acceptance of the fundamental values of honesty, human rights, fairness, justice, nondiscrimination and personal integrity.

The IPC Code of Ethics requires that members of the Paralympic family adhere to ethical standards such as: safeguard the dignity of the sport; work for the benefit of the Paralympic Movement; safeguard athletes’ interests and opportunity to participate; protect an athlete’s physical and mental health; comply with anti-doping rules; and conduct business with integrity in line with the Paralympic values. Further, it is prohibited to discriminate, harass, abuse another (mentally, physically or sexually), and engage in any betting related to the Paralympic Games, or IPC-sanctioned events.

Further, members of the Paralympic family must refrain from conflicts of interest, improper use of assets, improper use of information, and obtaining gifts/gratuities/prizes that are not approved. Lastly, the Code of Ethics sets forth code of conducts particular to athletes, classifiers, anti-doping officials, technical officials, appointed leaders or administrators, members on the IPC governing board, committees and councils, and candidates to election.

Anti-Doping Rules for Tokyo – Athlete Advisory
Japan has strict importation restrictions on common medications such as stimulants, narcotics, and cannabinoids.

There are also new therapeutic use exemption requirements for Team USA qualifying events and a new TUE process for the Games. As of January 2020, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has updated the definition of National-Level Athlete in the USADA TUE Policy. This update may require athletes to obtain a TUE in advance of any use of a prohibited substance or method.

Contact USADA’s Athlete Express for more information.
Phone: (719) 785-2000
Toll-Free: (866) 601-2632

Games-bound athletes who have not completed this process by July 14, 2020, should refer to the information below.


Tokyo Olympic Games

In compliance with section 20.6 of the World Anti-Doping Code, the IOC established the IOC Anti-Doping Rules Applicable to Tokyo.

During the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 (July 24 – August 9, 2020), the IOC has appointed the International Testing Authority to carry out the doping controls and results management. The 2020 Prohibited List shall be enforced, and testing can be conducted at any time or place with no advance notice.

Any athlete requiring a TUE, without an existing approved TUE, on/after July 14 must apply through the TUE Committee established by the International Testing Agency and need to contact at least one of the following as soon as possible: the medical staff of their sport's National Governing Body, the USOPC chief medical officer or the relevant Games medical director.

All athletes and support staff are required to abide by the No-Needle Policy regarding the use of injections in the treatment of athletes and the safe disposal of medical materials.  

Tokyo Paralympic Games

IPC Anti-Doping Code will be included here when it is made available.

Bylaw 2 to Rule 41 of the Olympic Charter and the IPC Athlete Nationality Policy require that competitors in the Olympic and Paralympic Games be a national of the country they represent.

However, if a competitor changes nationality or acquires a new nationality, they may only participate in the Games to represent the new country provided that three years have passed since the competitor last represented their former country. This three-year gap period may be reduced only upon the agreement of the relevant National Olympic or Paralympic Committees and International Federation, and by the IOC Executive Board/IPC.

National Governing Bodies must submit appropriate documentation to the IOC or IPC via Carolina Bayon ( with the USOPC international relations department, even if the athlete has been competing for the U.S. under an International Federation waiver. The process requires:

  • A copy of the valid passport;
  • The date and competition on which the athlete last represented another country internationally;
  • A copy of the change of nationality approval from International Federation;
  • A copy of the change of nationality approval from the respective National Olympic or Paralympic Committee;
  • And a personal letter from the athlete explaining their situation, demonstrating their personal ties to the country they are requesting change of nationality, including an explanation for the fundamental reasons for which they want to represent new country.

The IPC’s “Zero Classification Policy” aims to reduce and eliminate Games-time classification issues, which provides that only athletes with an international sport class and a sport class status of confirmed (C) or with a review date after December 31, 2020, are eligible to compete.

Because there are extremely limited options for classification evaluations/protests surrounding the Games, all National Governing Bodies, High Performance Management Organizations and Paralympic Sport Organizations should verify the appropriate International Federation master list to make sure athletes’ classification information is up to date and correct.

The Late Athlete Replacement Policy for Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 applies to athletes only within sports/disciplines where the quota place has been allocated to the NOC (i.e., not an entry-by-name spot), and only when there is an urgent medical condition preventing participation of an athlete, or upon an exceptional circumstance. The replacement athlete must meet all eligibility and qualification criteria and have successfully applied for accreditation. The replacement may only occur up to the relevant sport/discipline/event technical meeting, unless otherwise stated in the sport-specific Late Athlete Replacement Appendix. The sport specific appendix sets forth information regarding whether the policy applies to the particular sport, deadlines for LAR, date and time of the technical meeting, and information about alternate Athletes.

The IOC's Late Athlete Replacement Policy for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is available here.

Paralympic guidance will also be provided when available.


Bylaw 40.3 of the Olympic Charter and Section 2.1 of the Paralympics Chapter of the IPC Handbook state that all competitors, team officials and other team personnel who participate in the Olympic or Paralympic Games may allow their person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic or Paralympic Games in accordance with the principles determined by the IOC Executive Board or IPC.

The IOC Rule 40 Guidelines and IPC Athlete Image Policy provide the framework for acceptable and non-acceptable usage of advertising during the Games and the latest editions can be found here.

If an advertisement is run in the U.S., the process for obtaining Rule 40 permission requires athletes to register their themselves and their personal sponsors online with the USOPC. Rule 40 permission will be granted to athlete personal sponsors after the personal sponsor agrees to the Personal Sponsor Commitment which requires compliance with the USOPC Rule 40 Guidance. Permissions will not be granted without the explicit, advance consent of the athlete for their name, image, and/or likeness to be used in the relevant campaign. Any international campaigns will need to be sent to the IOC in order to obtain approval from the other countries involved.

For more information on the permission process, visit the USOPC athlete marketing page. Any questions related to advertising at the Games should be directed to:

Manufacturer Logos

Bylaw 1 to Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter and Section 2.6 of the Paralympic Chapter of the IPC Handbook (IPC Rule 2.6) address commercial markings on any article of clothing or equipment worn or used by the athletes or other participants in the Olympic/Paralympic Games.  The framework for acceptable and prohibited uses can be found below.  These guidelines include general requirements and specifics to each sport on the Olympic/Paralympic program and can be viewed here.

Personal Performance Gear

Pursuant to the Olympic Charter, the USOPC has the “sole and exclusive authority to prescribe and determine the clothing and uniforms to be worn, and the equipment to be used” during the Olympic Games, including during competition and during ceremonies. However, this authority does not extend to specialized equipment used by athletes in competition.

The Olympic Charter defines specialized equipment as having a material effect on the performance of athletes, due to the specialized characteristics of the equipment.  Although the International Paralympic Committee  does not have a specific provision relating to use of specialized equipment, the USOPC has determined that Paralympic athletes should be allowed to select and use specialized equipment, from items included on the Paralympic and Parapan American Games sports list, during the Paralympic and Parapan American Games.

An athlete has the right to select his or her specialized equipment for all protected competitions as defined in Section 1.3(w) of the USOPC bylaws.

The USOPC has designated the items on the personal performance gear lists as specialized equipment.

Social Media

The IOC Social and Digital Medial Guidelines and the IPC Social and Digital Media Guidelines for Games permit participants to share their experience at the Games through social and digital media, but restrictions do apply, especially surrounding commercial use and the sharing of audio and video.

The most up-to-date guidelines can be found here.

All participants at the Olympic and Paralympic Games must sign and agree to the terms within the IOC Eligibility Conditions Form and/or IPC Eligibility Conditions Form. The terms of this agreement include, but are not limited to, a media release, restrictions on personal commercial use of images/videos, compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code and Olympic Charter or Paralympic Handbook, assumption of risk, release of liability, release of personal data, and an arbitration agreement. Participation in the Games is conditional upon the acceptance of and compliance with such terms.

Eligibility forms are provided to athletes during the registration process.

For every Games, the USOPC requires athletes, coaches, Games staff, USOPC employees and guests to sign and abide by the USOPC Games forms as a condition of participation at the Games. The USOPC Games forms generally contain a code of conduct; a form to list all doping charges and criminal convictions/indictments/charges; grievance procedures; a general release (that includes a consent to medical treatment, media release, an assumption of the risk and release of liability; a form to include insurance and beneficiary information; and a signature page.

Games forms are provided to athletes during the registration process.

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