Date of Award


Degree Type



School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management

Director of Thesis

Dr. John Grady

Second Reader

Dr. Khalid Ballouli


When planning and executing the Olympic Games, a premier event in modern sport, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) relies heavily on sponsorship revenue from their official sponsors. “Worldwide Olympic Partners,” the top 11 sponsors of the 2016 Olympics, had exclusive rights during the Olympic cycle from 2013-2016.

With the purchase of these expensive sponsorship deals, brands are looking to capitalize on the “glow” of the Olympics, and use excusive Olympic intellectual property to make ties from their brand to the Games. In order to make these sponsorship deals more valuable, the IOC has historically provided official partners with added exclusivity legislation that prevents competing brands from entering the marketing space, both figuratively and literally, during the period directly before, during, and after the Olympic Games. This has become known as the “Olympic blackout period.” With that legislation, an Olympic bylaw known as Rule 40, Olympic athletes have recently become restricted in their own ability to engage with their personal sponsors during the peak of competition at the Olympic Games (unless their personal sponsor is an official Olympic partner.) This has created public backlash from the competitors; most notably in the 2012 Olympics in London.

In 2015, in preparation for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the IOC decided to “relax” Rule 40 and allow athletes and non-affiliated brands to engage in “generic” advertising during the Olympic Games. This study aims to analyze the effect of the revised Rule 40 legislation at the 2016 Olympic Games, both on-site and online, using qualitative methods of observational research.

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