Several news outlets reported that 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics sponsor, Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF), has reportedly barred the display of mobile device logos for non-Samsung devices, including the ubiquitous Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics. However, according to a new statement provided by the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, to MacRumors, the IOC claims that the intial reports were "not true."
“No it is not true. Athletes can use any device they wish during the Opening Ceremony. The normal rules apply just as per previous Games,” the IOC representative said to MacRumors.
“The Samsung Note 3 that were distributed are a gift to the athletes, so they can capture and share their experiences at the Games, and the phones also contain important competition and logistical information for competing athletes.”
While it’s unclear if Samsung made an independent request for athletes that received the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 to cover non-Samsung device logos, the clarification from the IOC spokesperson asserts that athletes will not be penalized for using non-Samsung devices during the opening ceremony or during the Olympics.
While the IOC does not bar athletes and coaches from using such devices during the ceremony, any type of endorsement deals between Olympians and non-official IOC sponsors are strictly barred by Rule 40, which garnered much criticism during the 2012 London Summer Olympics for the IOC’s aggressive enforcement of the rule on athlete social networking pages and accounts.
An excerpt from the IOC Rule 40 bye-law:
“Except as permitted by the IOC Executive Board, no competitor, coach, trainer or official who participates in the Olympic Games may allow his person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games.”
Many athletes were also quick to send out farewell tweets as the IOC’s Rule 40 came into effect back last week.
Barbaric IOC #Rule40 starts tomorrow I want to give a shoutout to my sponsors that supported me for years yet arent allowed to get OLY love
â€” Ted Ligety (@tedligety) January 29, 2014
While the strict enforcement of Rule 40 is considered by some to be excessive, the IOC’s Rule 50, which bars protests, has also met some resistance in the lead up to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.