How to use the Olympic Brand

How to use the Olympic Brand

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) is a private, not-for-profit organization and as a National Olympic Committee (NOC), has a legal duty to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its sponsors to monitor and protect the Olympic Brand in Canada.

In order to fulfill this duty, the COC has developed a balanced approach to Olympic Brand use that relies on education, assessment, and enforcement to respond appropriately to all commercial and non-commercial infringements or misuses of the Olympic Brand in Canada.

The following information is intended to provide the general public, community institutions, business community, media and COC sport partners with an opportunity to become informed about the COC’s perspective and approach. Examples are provided which assist in describing how to actively promote the Olympic Movement within Canada without devaluing the investments made by COC marketing partners/sponsors.

A long-form PDF version of the Public and Business Community Brand Use Guidelines is also available for download.

Athlete Marketing – Rio 2016

Athletes, agents, sponsors and National Sport Federations should all be aware of Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter, which restricts athletes from allowing their name or image to be used in advertising during the Rio 2016 Games Period (27 July – 24 August 2016), unless otherwise approved by the COC.

The COC’s Athlete Advertising Guidelines for Rio 2016 provide an overview of Rule 40 and also outline how sponsors can apply for Rule 40 waivers to enable the continuation of in-market, generic (i.e. non-Olympic themed) advertising featuring athletes during the Games Period. Click here to download a copy of the Guidelines.

In order to accommodate the requests of sponsors, the COC has created an online system where waiver requests can be submitted. Click here to access the COC’s Athlete Advertising Waiver System.

Please bear in mind the following deadlines in the submissions process:

  • January 27, 2016 – initial deadline for submission of Rule 40 waiver requests. Initial submissions may be conceptual in nature, however all final advertising materials featuring athletes must be submitted to and approved by the COC before March 27.
  • March 27, 2016 – deadline for advertising featuring athletes to be in market.

If you have any questions regarding Rule 40, the Guidelines or the Athlete Advertising Waiver System, please contact

The Olympic Brand in Canada – what is it?

The ‘Olympic Brand’ is comprised of the names, phrases, marks, logos and designs relating to the Olympic Movement. This includes, but is not limited to, those relating to specific Olympic Games, the Canadian Olympic Team, Olympic moments and the accomplishments of Olympians. Use of the Olympic Brand in Canada is subject to COC authorization.

Why protect the Olympic Brand?

The COC relies heavily on the sale of exclusive marking rights to generate revenue, which is used to fund the Canadian Olympic Team’s preparation and participation at Olympic and PanAmerican Games. Thus, the awarding, management and protection of exclusive marketing rights surrounding the Olympic Brand in Canada is necessary to sustain Canada’s participation in the global Olympic Movement.

Only official sponsors, licensees and partners of the COC are permitted to suggest an affiliation or connection with the Olympic Movement in Canada. When companies create false or misleading commercial associations with the Olympic Brand without making the financial investment required to secure official marketing rights, they are threatening the COC’s sponsorship and licensing programs and impair the COC’s ability to attract future sponsors and licensees. Protecting sponsor rights will encourage continued support of Canadian athletes and foster the success of our current and future Olympians.

How does the COC protect the Olympic Brand?

The COC is committed to enforcing its rights in a disciplined, sensitive, fair and transparent manner.

Examples provided in each stakeholder group below use the COC assessment tool that is relied upon to determine the likelihood of a marketing, communication and/or promotional tactic that might create an unauthorized commercial association. These examples provide users with a direct insight into the criteria considered when assessing use of the Olympic Brand.

Please see the long form Public and Business Community Brand Use Guidelines for a detailed overview of the assessment process.

How can I get more information?

The COC recognizes that a variety of groups and a significant number of the Canadian public are keen on engaging with or referencing the Olympic Brand in Canada. For the sake of user convenience, the following sections are organized by interest group and provide specific information and examples relating to Olympic Brand use in Canada. The categories below will have visually stimulating examples and leading questions for ease of viewing , please click on the interest group that best represents your needs and intentions.

Who are the Official Canadian Olympic Sponsors?

Please visit our Marketing Partner page to learn more about our partners who make the Olympic Movement in Canada possible.

How do I report misuses of the Olympic Brand?

The general public, community institutions and business community can greatly assist our efforts to protect the Olympic Brand. If you encounter infringing marketing tactics, counterfeit merchandise or other misuses of the Olympic Brand, we encourage you to fill out the form below and e-mail the completed copy to us at

These Guidelines are not legal advice and any information contained herein does not in any way limit the COC’s legal rights and remedies. If you think you may have infringed the COC’s rights, or you are proposing to do something which you think may infringe the COC’s rights, we recommend that you seek independent legal advice.

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