Broadcasts and Promotions Related to the Summer Olympic Games

The Summer Olympic Games will begin on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. The games were rescheduled from summer 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but will still be referred to as the “Tokyo 2020 Games.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) carefully protect Olympic trademarks and copyrights. Radio and television stations should be cautious not to use materials that might infringe on these rights.

Olympic Trademarks

The Olympic committees control marketing rights for Olympic emblems, marks, mascots, symbols and terminology. Without written permission from the committees, it is unlawful to use these trademarks for any purpose.

Broadcast stations should not use the following marks, or any other official Olympic marks, in marketing or promotions, whether on-air, in print, on websites, or otherwise, without express written consent.

  • “Olympic(s).”
  • “Olympism,” “Olympiad,” “Olympian,” and “Summer Olympic Games.”
  • “Paralympic(s).”
  • “Paralympiad,” “Paralympian,” “Summer Paralympic Games” and “Paralympic Games.”
  • Trademarks of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, such as “Tokyo 2020,” and the corresponding Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games logo.
  • Symbols such as the five interlocking Olympic rings and the three Paralympic agitos, as well as the 2020 Summer Olympic Games mascots. The Olympic mascot is “Miraitowa.” The Paralympic mascot is “Someity.”
  • The Olympic motto “Citius, Altius, Fortius,” or “Faster, Higher, Stronger”; the Toyko 2020 Summer Olympic Games motto “United By Emotion”; and the Japanese slogan, “Gambare! Nippon!”.
  • U.S. team names, including “Team USA” and “Olympic Team USA.”
  • Phrases such as “Let the Games Begin,” “Go (or Going) for the Gold,” “Gateway to Gold,” “Olympians Made Here,” “Where the Olympic Journeys Begin,” and “Road to Tokyo.”

These examples do not include the full extent of Olympic marks. Guidelines illustrating the Olympic and Paralympic marks released by the Tokyo Organizing Committee are available here.

Olympics-Related Advertisements

Before accepting or producing Olympics-related advertisements, broadcasters should confirm that advertisers have the rights to use Olympic trademarks. Information about official sponsors, partners, and suppliers are in the Tokyo Organizing Committee guidelines and on the “Partners” page of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee website. Particular caution should be used with ads from local advertisers that reference the Olympics, to ensure that these advertisers have secured rights to use Olympic trademarks.

Olympic Games Tickets

The Olympic committees and their agents are the only legal sources for distribution of Olympics tickets. Tickets that are purchased for the Olympics generally cannot be resold or transferred, and cannot be used for prizes and contest promotions. Tickets cannot not be used for advertising or promotional purposes unless specifically authorized by the Olympic committees. Without written authorization, a station cannot conduct a promotion in which trips and/or tickets to the Olympic Games are awarded, even if the tickets were validly purchased by the station or a local advertiser. Stations should note: as of the date of this update, it is expected that foreign fans will not be permitted to attend the Tokyo Olympics, due to COVID-19.

News Reporting

The IOC holds rights to the accounts and descriptions of the Olympic Games, and sells the radio and television rights for the Olympics.

The IOC controls the use of information relating to the events for a reasonable time following completion. After an event has ended, stations can report the news of the event, such as scores and names of medalists. Stations can also report news of events from publicly-available sources, such as wire services, while the events are underway. In the context of news reporting, use of Olympic trademarks is permitted. For example, the use of the phrase, “We’ll have highlights from the Olympics tonight at 11:00,” is permissible.

The IOC and its licensees can charge fees for the use of audio and video highlights. Stations must obtain consents from the rights holders before broadcasting Olympic event highlights in station newscasts.

If you have questions about broadcasts or promotions relating to the Olympics, please contact any attorney in our office.

Categories: Broadcast and Media

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