You might not have noticed, but it turns out all those commercials with Olympic athletes in them bombarding your television 37 hours a day during the Olympic cycle happen to be for companies that are also official sponsors. Turns out this isn't by coincidence! The IOC's Rule 40 says that Olympic athletes can't promote any brands that aren't permitted by the IOC or a national Olympic committee during the span of the games, or post tweets promoting said companies.
Well, the American track and field team had some problems with this.
I am honored to be an Olympian, but #wedemandchange #rule40 @NBCOlympics twitter.com/DHarp100mH/sta… — Dawn Harper (@DHarp100mH) July 29, 2012
I am honored to be an Olympian, but #WeDemandChange2012 #Rule40@NBCOlympics — Sanya Richards-Ross (@SanyaRichiRoss) July 29, 2012
I am honored to be an Olympian, but #WeDemandChange2012 #Rule40@NBCOlympics
— NickSymmonds (@NickSymmonds) July 29, 2012
Dozens and dozens of athletes tweeted out the same message, hashtag and all. Their point is clear: they should be allowed to decide how and why to use their own likeness during the time people are paying attention to them.
The IOC will argue that they need to protect their sponsors, since sponsorships allow the Games to occur. However, those same sponsorships allow the athletes to raise money to support themselves during the lifelong grind that allows them to become Olympic competitors. And while most of the NBA stars in the basketball competition annually earn 10s of millions whether or not they appear in the Olympics, many competitors only catch the public spotlight when the Games come around.
There probably won't be a resolution in the athlete's favor by the end of the games, but their tweets likely caught somebody's attention at the IOC.