Athletes aren’t the only ones competing at the London 2012 Summer Olympics — their sponsors are, too. Team Great Britain competitors have been asked to sign a contract they will wear the clothing and footwear of Adidas, a sponsor of the British Olympic Association, while moving about the Olympic Village and during medal ceremonies. Athletes can wear whatever brand of footwear they want during competition, of course, but it’s the rest of the time that is getting complicated.
But what about those British athletes who have endorsement deals with Adidas rival Nike? The Telegraph reports that some of their agents are saying their clients may have to accept any medals they receive barefoot in order to not step on anyone’s toes. Nike, for its part, isn’t backing down. “As far as we are concerned, our contracts with individual athletes are binding,” a Nike spokesperson told the Telegraph. “We are still in discussion on this point with the BOA.”
Ricky Simms, the agent to Nike-sponsored British runner Mo Farah, at top, says he had thought that the medal podium wouldn’t be part of the agreement but then discovered this week it was.[more]
“This enforcement by the BOA will cause to athletes to breach their contracts is new because before it was never enforced,” Simms told the Telegraph. “It is not fair on the athletes. They don’t want to be involved in legal action or upsetting their existing sponsor who may have been supporting them for years.”
This kind of conundrum could affect other Olympic teams that feature athletes with their own clothing and shoe contracts. Nike is a sponsor of the Russian, Chinese, American, and German Olympic Committees, while Puma sponsors Jamaica and Adidas has Australia and Great Britain locked up.
Whose sponsors should take precedence — the athletes’ or the team’s? And if they’re forced to wear Adidas on the podium, is that very sporting?