The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) has today released an updated Rule 40 and Paralympic athlete marketing guidance for Tokyo 2020.
It comes after the Olympic Charter was amended at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Lausanne in June, leading to the much-debated rule being altered.
Rule 40 previously warned that "no competitor, team official or other team personnel 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".
This was seen as a major reason why companies have been willing to sign up as part of the lucrative The Olympic Partner (TOP) sponsorship scheme, which guarantees huge exposure during Games-time.
Athletes have complained, however, that it prevents them from making money during the most important time of their career, particularly with sponsors who are not part of the TOP programme.
The USOPC's updated Rule 40 and Paralympic athlete marketing guidance is said to be a product of a collaborative process that invited feedback and discussion from the Athletes' Advisory Council (AAC), the National Governing Bodies Council (NGBC), the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), and international and domestic marketing partners.
Athletes are now able to thank personal sponsors and receive congratulatory messages from personal sponsors during the Games.
Personal sponsors, meanwhile, can engage in generic advertising during the Games.
Official partners maintain continued exclusivity around Team USA and and imagery, and they also receive increased ambush protection through the introduction of a personal sponsor commitment.
Furthermore, all existing partner benefits related to timing and support of USOPC partner staff continue.
"We are sharing an updated Rule 40 guidance that embraces the athlete perspective while honouring critical support USOPC, IOC and IPC partners provide for the Olympic and Paralympic Movements," USOPC chief executive Sarah Hirshland said.
"We worked to create a guidance that increases athlete marketing opportunities and, importantly, respects Rule 40 and affirms our commitment to providing value to our partners, and maintains funding and participation pathways for Team USA, and athletes around the world."
Han Xiao, chair of the USOPC’s AAC, added: "This updated Rule 40 guidance for Tokyo 2020 represents a really positive step for athlete marketing rights and is the result of a positive collaboration between the AAC, NGBC and the USOPC.
"This guidance enables athlete opportunities in an entirely new way and is a sign of great progress as we continue to work closely with the USOPC."
The USOPC is also inviting athletes to participate in upcoming information and education sessions.
Athlete permissions can be requested at an online portal expected to be active in early 2020.
"The Rule 40 guidance for Tokyo 2020 is a progressive move forward, and reflective of a process that featured thoughtful feedback and important communication among the groups that make up the Olympic and Paralympic Movements," Max Cobb, chair of the USOPC's NGBC, said.
"I look forward to seeing this guidance put into action for the upcoming Games, and working together to strengthen the Movements for the benefit of all the athletes we celebrate."
Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter is an eligibility rule introduced by the IOC for the purpose of maintaining the unique and universal competitive environment offered by the Olympic Games.
The rule helps ensure global participation at the Games, the funding of the Games and the long-term health of the Olympic Movement by maintaining the appeal of Olympic sponsorship at global and national level.
The IPC athlete marketing guidance is expected to be released before the end of 2019.
Any necessary adjustments to the USOPC domestic guidance will be made at that time.
Following the Olympic Charter change, presented in Lausanne by Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President John Coates who is the IOC Legal Commission chair, the rule now reads: "Competitors, team officials and other team personnel who participate in the Olympic Games may allow their person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games in accordance with the principles determined by the IOC Executive Board."
Debate about the issue has increased since a decision in Germany in February scaled back Rule 40's powers.
The list of banned Olympic terminology is now "considerably smaller" and applies to advertising and social media platforms.
It was also judged that sporting sanctions must not be applied in any disputes, with hearings having to take place in civil courts.
National Olympic Committees are now responsible to implement the new Rule 40 guidelines following the Charter change.
In July, the AOC approved changes to its guidelines.