It has been reported that the European Commission met with officials from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in November to discuss rules that restrict athletes’ marketing activities during a ‘blackout’ period around the Olympic Games.
The meeting follows a recent ruling in Germany, which found that certain IOC restrictions breached antitrust rules and unlawfully limited athletes’ ability to earn money from sponsors. Following commitments given by the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) and the IOC to loosen the rules on German athletes, it is understood that the European Commission may consider extending this approach to the rest of the EU.
The European Commission meeting also comes shortly after a group of British athletes, including Mo Farah, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Laura Muir and Adam Gemili, sent a Letter Before Claim to the British Olympic Association threatening legal action over its blackout rules.
On the eve of next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, the ability of athletes to engage in their own marketing – and the right of event sponsors to protect their investment – will come under significant scrutiny. National Olympic Committees, athletes and the companies that support them will all be watching carefully.