The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) is issuing autocratic letters warning companies that if they are sponsoring individual athletes but do not have an official sponsorship deal with the sports body, they are not permitted to tweet any content relating to the Games or the Trials on any corporate social media accounts.
The letter explicitly warns these companies that they are forbidden from using any phrases that have been trademarked by the USOC, including such popular terms as "Olympic", "Olympian" and "Go for the gold" and many other phrases usually used to describe the international sporting event.
"Commercial entities may not post about the Trials or Games on their corporate social media accounts," reads the letter from USOC chief marketing officer Lisa Baird, which was seen by ESPN. "This restriction includes the use of USOC's trademarks in hashtags such as #Rio2016 or #TeamUSA."
Even worse, if companies do not have an official USOC sponsorship deal, they are also forbidden from referencing any Olympic event results or retweeting/reporting any content from the official Olympics accounts, or using images taken at the sporting event.
Baird stressed that the USOC had decided take such a stringent stance because money is needed from official licensees that pay for the rights in order to support athletes to attend the Olympic Games – however, sponsors interviewed by ESPN said that in reality, the USOC contributes only a meagre percentage of the $300,000 (£228,000) required to send an athlete to the event.
The USOC specifically clarifies in the letter that it is not that companies cannot sponsor athletes, or that athletes cannot endorse companies – but they are not allowed to mention anything relating to the Olympic Games while doing so.
But the USOC is not the only body that has a restrictive view when it comes to promoting one of the world's most watched events – the International Olympics Committee (IOC) has long refused to allow athletes or non-official sponsors from mentioning any relationships for one month before and after the Games.
This Olympics marks the first time that the IOC is relaxing this rule, but instead it says that all companies without official sponsorship deals can mention relationships and the Olympics as long as they commit to running ads for the six-month period beginning March, up until the Games end on 21 August.
However, smaller companies cannot afford to simultaneouly sponsor athletes and pay for expensive long-running advertising campaigns, so it becomes an either — or situation that is frustrating and does not allow athletes to thank the companies that give them the often once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the games.
The Rio Olympics is only one week away, but athletes that have started moving in are already complaining that the conditions in the Olympic Village fall far below where they need to be. Team Australia, said on Sunday 24 July that its building was completely uninhabitable due to crucial issues relating to both electricity and plumbing, while Argentina announced that it was forced to rent apartments near to the Village for its athletes and staff due to two of the five floors of its building being uninhabitable.
Meanwhile the Belarus team decided to shame the Rio Olympics organisers by posting photos of blocked drains and dirty windows on social media, while Sweden's athletes arrived at the Olympic Village and then immediately left, refusing to stay in their accommodation.