Supporting Canadian Athletes

Responsibilities – Nationally & Internationally

National Sport Organizations

Each NSO has different rules and regulations regarding sponsorship agreements. It is essential that athletes conduct research prior to signing a sponsorship agreement to ensure they are meeting obligations under the athlete agreement with the NSO. Some NSOs may want to co-sign any agreements that arise between the athlete and the sponsoring entity or they may also restrict certain sponsors all together (such as tobacco or alcohol companies). NSOs typically approve of sponsors whose product is consistent with the objectives of amateur sport and the organization’s image. Some NSOs may also take a percentage of the athlete’s sponsorship funds, which will be covered in the athlete agreement, and should be kept in mind when negotiating a deal with the sponsor. It is important to understand any restrictions the NSO may have and how they apply to all levels of the organization (provincial, national and international levels). To avoid later conflict with the sponsor or the NSO, athletes must be aware of any rules or regulations of the NSO and the obligations under the sponsorship agreement prior to signing. The federal government is also a major funding partner of national and international sport and may potentially object to any individual sponsorship that might negatively impact the image of sport they intend to convey through funding and the government of Canada in general.



It should also be noted that the NCAA has additional rules and requirements regarding sponsorship and amateur status. NCAA athletes should be aware of these rules and seek approval from their NCAA representative prior to entering any sponsorship agreements or receiving money from outside parties.  Some of these rules and regulations may also be a factor before enrollment at an NCAA school.  It is important to check with NCAA school prospects 1-2 years prior to enrolling to ensure you are not in breach of NCAA rules and/or your existing sponsorship agreements.

Major Games

When competing internationally it is important to consider the interest of major Games stakeholders such as sponsors of the Olympics or Paralympics. There may be sponsors of the Games that are direct competitors of individual sponsors of the athletes, which may give rise to conflict.  This may limit the ability to compete in these events and meet obligations under the sponsorship agreement simultaneously.  For example, there is a black out period surrounding and during the Games that prohibits certain sponsors and athletes from advertising or promoting themselves. It is important that athletes investigate major sponsors of international Games and include provisions regarding this kind of conflict in the sponsorship agreement.


As an example, prior to the 2012 London Olympic Games, Guidelines were released to the public concerning the promotion of sponsors during the blackout period. “Participants and other accredited persons are not permitted to promote any brand, product or service within a posting, blog or tweet or otherwise on any social media platforms or on any websites.” according to the IOC’s Social Media, Blogging and Internet Guidelines for the 2012 Olympics.  Click here for the most recent edition from the 2016 Olympic Games: IOC Social and Digital Media Guidelines for persons accredited to the Games of the XXXI Olympiad Rio 2016


2016 Edition of the Olympic Marketing Fact File

2014 Edition of the Olympic Marketing Fact File

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