The International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued “Social and Digital Media Guidelines”, updated for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The guidelines apply to all Olympic athletes and “accredited persons” –  coaches, officials, members of accredited media etc – during the Games period.  They permit blogging in a “first-person, diary-type format” subject to various restrictions:

  • Only persons who are accredited as media may act as journalists, reporters or “in any other media capacity” while at the Games.
  • Still photographs taken within Olympic venues (other than designated “no picture areas”) can be shared on social media “for personal use”.  However sale or commercial use is not permitted.
  • Audio and video recordings can be made for personal use.  However the guidelines prohibit sharing content of this nature on social and digital media (or “on any other type of media”) without prior approval from the IOC, if it is a recording of activities taking place within an Olympic venue.
  • Use of the Olympic symbols are restricted.  The word OLYMPIC and other “Olympic-related words” can only be used as a factual reference and only if there is no association with any third party or any third party products.
  • Athletes and other accredited persons are prohibited from using social and digital media for “any commercial and/or advertising” purpose, without permission from the IOC and/or the relevant National Olympic Committee.

Social media handles including the word “Olympic” (or other “Olympic-related terms) are not allowed without prior permission.

Each National Olympic Committee may have their own social media rules.

Why this matters:

Advertisers and sponsors looking to exploit their relationships with participating Olympic athletes on social media will find their options are pretty limited during the Games period, in the absence of sign-off from the relevant Olympic Committee(s).

It is very interesting also to see live-streaming apps Meerkat and Periscope expressly called out in the FAQs accompanying these guidelines.  With apps like these becoming increasingly popular and widely used, it will be interesting to see whether and how the IOC may enforce its ban on live-streaming from within venues.

The IOC guidelines can be found here.