OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC
ATHLETE COMMERCIAL GUIDELINES

October 15, 2018

Because a significant amount U.S. Olympic Committee (“USOC”) funding comes from U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Sponsors (“USOC Sponsors”), those companies are granted rights to use Olympic and Paralympic trademarks and/or imagery (“Marks”) for promotion and advertising. The USOC does not allow unaffiliated third parties (those who have no official relationship with the USOC or “Non-Sponsors”) to use its Marks commercially. These guidelines are intended to ensure that Athletes do not give Non-Sponsors any improper commercial benefit of associating with the USOC, Team USA, or the Olympic or Paralympic Games.

Endorsement Contract with U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Sponsors (including worldwide Olympic sponsors)

USOC Sponsors must submit proposed ads, press releases, Olympian and Paralympian public appearances or other promotions through USOC Marketing for review and approval prior to release. Sponsors may use USOC Marks commercially after review and approval by the USOC.

Endorsement Contract with Unaffiliated Third Party

In order to ensure that Non-Sponsors do not create the false impression that they are a Sponsor of the Games and/or Team USA, athletes endorsing Non-Sponsors should make certain that advertising, web sites, promotions, etc. focus on the athlete and his/her achievements rather than on the Olympic or Paralympic Games (“Games”). Non- Sponsors may not use OLYMPIC, PARALYMPIC, TOKYO 2020, BEIJING 2022 or other Marks in any commercial context without the USOC’s permission. This restriction applies at all times, not only for commercial activity surrounding the Games.

Non-Sponsors may submit for USOC approval ads containing biographical references to athletes as Olympians or Paralympians. Such ads are more likely to be approved if the Olympic or Paralympic reference is balanced by other achievements or accolades.

Photography or video footage of athletes from the Games or U.S. Team Trials may not be used for commercial purposes without the USOC’s approval. Similarly, Non-Sponsors may not use photos or videos of Olympians or Paralympians with their medals or wearing U.S. Team apparel for promotional purposes.

Compliance with Athlete Advertising during Games Blackout Period

No athlete participating in the Olympic or Paralympic Games may allow his or her person, name, picture or sports performance to be used for advertising purposes during the blackout period for each Games (which generally corresponds with the period of time that the Olympic or Paralympic Village is open) unless a waiver is sought from and granted by the USOC. These IOC and IPC rules affect athlete eligibility and are enforced by the USOC.

All commercial activity by U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Team members not approved by the USOC must cease during the blackout period of the respective Games. Please see the USOC’s separate guidance on obtaining waivers for the IOC’s Rule 40 and the corresponding provision for the IPC.   

Athlete Apparel at official USOC functions

As described in the Athlete Pledge, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Team athletes must wear the Team USA apparel issued to them at all official USOC functions including but not limited to: the Games, USOC Media Summit, Sponsor Workshops, Medal Ceremonies, Opening/Closing Ceremonies, press conferences arranged by the USOC and/or hosted by the USOC, IOC, IPC, Tokyo 2020 or LA 2028, the White House visit, and other engagements arranged by the USOC. At these official functions, athletes may not wear branded apparel or accessories that are not part of the U.S. Team apparel issued by the USOC. In addition, during the Opening/Closing Ceremonies and Medal Ceremonies (except in those instances in which medals are awarded at the venue immediately following the competition and the USOC has granted a waiver for the athlete to wear his or her competition apparel on the podium), athletes must wear the USOC issued gear for such ceremony in full, including shoes, hats, ball caps, sunglasses, or other apparel and accessories that are provided and required..

Specialized Equipment

An athlete has the right to select his or her Specialized Equipment for use in protected competitions, such as the Olympic, Paralympic and Pan American Games, or the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

The USOC shall have the sole authority to determine what equipment constitutes Specialized Equipment (aka “personal performance gear”) for each sport. The list of USOC approved equipment is located under Personal Performance Gear at https://www.teamusa.org/Footer/Legal/Other-Documents .

The USOC may require an athlete to cover sponsor logos on Specialized Equipment (other than manufacturers’ logos complying with the IOC’s Rule 50 or the equivalent provision for the Paralympic Games) at events where a “Clean Venue” is required (e.g., Olympic or Paralympic Games, Team Trials, etc.)..

Fundraising

Do not use OLYMPIC, OLYMPIAN, PARALYMPIC, PARALYMPIAN or other Marks, symbols or terminology that looks in any way like a trademark, (e.g., banner headline, part
of a domain name, in large or prominent letters) anywhere on fundraising letters, a web site, or on promotional merchandise (t-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, key chains, etc.).

Athletes may use Olympic or Paralympic terminology in text to describe their aspirations (e.g., “my goal is to compete at the Paralympic Games in Rio.”) or accomplishments (“e.g., Olympic Gold medalist – 400m Relay.”).

These parameters apply to all Marks owned by the USOC such as Team USA, Go For The Gold, Let The Games Begin, Tokyo 2020, Beijing 2022, Road To Tokyo and other trademarks that specifically refer to the Games.

Web sites

Athlete web sites should follow the general rules regarding permissible uses of the Marks and the restrictions on Non-Sponsors. Athletes must separate the Non-Sponsors from all Olympic or Paralympic references (including photographs from the Games) on the web site. This can be done, for example, by putting the athlete’s sponsors who are not Sponsors on the home page but keeping all Olympic or Paralympic references in a separate section/page of the web site that does not feature any commercial entity.

If an athlete seeks donations or other financial support on his/her web site, to the extent possible the fundraising portion of the site should be separate from Marks and imagery, including Games photos. Factual Olympic and Paralympic references should be made in small type, for example to describe the athlete’s goals or achievements, rather than used in banner headlines.

Fan web sites should be informational and not sponsored by third parties. Web sites with commercial affiliation must not use Marks without permission from the USOC..

Olympic and Paralympic Footage

Neither athletes nor third parties may use the official broadcast footage of U.S. Team Trials or Games competition without the express consent of the USOC. This requirement includes but is not limited to: use of footage on web sites or public exhibition of any kind, whether for any personal, commercial or charitable purposes. Requests for historical Olympic or Paralympic footage should be directed to the USOC; however, please note that NBC controls the footage from Tokyo 2020 through December 31, 2020. Personal videos from the U.S. Team Trials or the Games may not be used for any commercial purpose without the USOC’s consent. Athletes must comply with IOC and IPC rules regarding video recording at official venues, including the athlete village.

Philanthropy

Athletes are encouraged to participate in other philanthropic organizations. Those organizations may use Olympic and Paralympic biographical references that are specific to the athlete and balanced with other non-Olympic/Paralympic accomplishments. Such organizations cannot use Olympic or Paralympic-themed materials, or photos/videos of athletes from the Games or with their Olympic/Paralympic medals in their fund-raising efforts, operations or activities.

Athlete Ombudsman:

Under the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, athletes have access to an Athlete Ombudsman to advise athletes of their rights, seek confidential advice, or assist in resolving disputes. Athletes are encouraged to contact her if they have questions. This confidential resource is provided free of charge to athletes.

Kacie Wallace, Athlete Ombudsman
Phone: 719-866-5000
Email: ombudsman@usathlete.org
www.usathlete.org

Questions and Approval, Please Contact:

Christopher Coleman, Athlete Marketing
Phone:  719-866-4891
Email:   chris.coleman@usoc.org


ATHLETE COMMERCIAL GUIDELINES (PDF)