Legal Correspondent: Namrata Chakrabarty
August 09, 2021: PV Sindhu, the first Indian woman to win two medals in Olympics, and Baseline Ventures, the agency that handles the players’ sponsorship, sues over 20 brands for using the player’ name and image without prior permission during the Tokyo Olympics.
The Baseline Ventures has asked for damages worth Rs. 5 crores from each of the brands who are involved in contravening the norms. Citing Rule 40, a by-law in the Olympic Charter which states that only sanctioned sponsors may mention "Olympic-related terms", Yashwanth Biyyala, Director – Talent and Partnerships, Baseline Ventures, said these brands have debased the norms. “Rule 40 clearly mentions that there is a blackout period between July 13 (when the Olympic Village opens) and August 10 (two days after the Closing Ceremony). All athletes have had to give their consent to Rule 40 which clearly states that their brands cannot promote them during this blackout period. In fact, even brands that are paying money to Sindhu are not using her in their marketing during this period. They have not even put out a congratulatory message,” he added.
According to Biyyala, officially, only brands that are IOC partners, in this case, Bridgestone and Visa, are allowed to use the player in their communications during the tournament. “Also, brands, who have tied up with the IOA, are allowed to use the names of athletes. Even the athletes themselves cannot put out a branded post during this time period. If brands want to put out content around athletes, they have to take a written consent, and none of them have done it. Close to 15 brands officially work with Sindhu, and since they have not taken IOA’s permission, none of them have sent out a single congratulatory post for her. And then we have brands that are blatantly flouting rules, on an individual athlete level as well as the Olympic rules,” he added. The agency has already sent legal notices to 15 brands and are in the process of sending notices to 5 more brands.
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