Team GB athletes agree deal over Olympic sponsorship rules

Adam Gemili was one of a group of athletes to challenge the British Olympic Association
Adam Gemili was one of a group of athletes to challenge the British Olympic Association

Team GB athletes will be allowed greater freedom to promote their own sponsors at the Olympics after striking a deal to ease rules on advertising.

A group of Team GB athletes were in legal dispute with the British Olympic Association (BOA) over their freedom to work with sponsors during the Games.

Athletes had previously faced strict limits on endorsing sponsors.

The BOA says a new agreement balances its own needs but gives more "commercial freedom" to athletes.

The likes of Adam Gemili, Mo Farah, Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Laura Muir were among those listed as claimants in a legal letter sent to the BOA last year.

They argued the BOA's application of International Olympic Committee (IOC) rules hindered their opportunity to enhance their earnings during the Olympics.

Gemili told BBC Sport the changes will benefit all Olympic athletes, not just those who are household names.

"We are really happy as an athlete group and really thankful to the BOA for having open dialogue with us," he said.

"We are finally at a place where we have what we believe are some really great changes going into Tokyo.

"It's great for athletes who have always been in the public eye and for those who will be heroes this summer. We may not have heard of them now but they will be household names by the end of the summer.

"It gives equal opportunities for everyone and we are so pleased with that."

Athletes are now permitted to promote their sponsors before, during and after the Olympics and will be allowed to issue 'thank you' messages.

At the same time advertisers can use an image of individual athletes as long as they comply with specific rules.

Previous rules had sought to limit the exposure given to individual sponsors in order to protect the rights of official Games partners.

But in 2019 the IOC relaxed its rules, paving the way for athletes to challenge their own national committees.

The BOA had said protecting official partners helped enhance the financial backing received by Team GB which in turn helped athletes who were unable to acquire their own lucrative private backing.

Gemili believes there is scope for further changes beyond this summer's Games.

"It was really important for us to get these changes in for this Olympic cycle but we are still in conversations about after Tokyo," he added.

"Athletes get one opportunity to get to an Olympic games in four years and we want to maximise and capitalise on every opportunity we can going into that.

"It's a fantastic stepping stone, but there is still more work to be done."

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