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Rio Olympics Golf – Golfers could be banned over Rule 40

Rio Olympics golfCould Rule 40 be the real reason behind so many top golfers dropping out of the Rio Olympics golf tournament?

We have heard all sorts of excuses for the world’s top golfers not playing at the landmark event at the Rio Summer Olympics. Yes, we all know the Zika virus is bad, but there are precautions you can take. Yes the schedule is busy this year with a Ryder Cup to play in September. But come on guys, you are professional athletes with the resources of some of the richest companies (sponsors) at your disposal.

But therein lies the rub, maybe, it’s a sponsors thing?

Under Rule 40 , all olympic athletes must break ties with their sponsors, if those sponsors are not official partners of the Olympics, from midnight last night, until midnight on the 24th August.

This rule also means that kit suppliers are not allowed to retweet athletes, or pass on messages of good luck for the games.

If an athlete is found to be in breach, then the rules allow sanctions, ranging from disqualification, removal of medals all the way through to “you’ve been a naughty boy / girl” style reprimand.

With the top golfers having some of the biggest social media followings in sport, and with numerous tie-ins with corporate sponsors, equipment and clothing brands etc this is an absolute nightmare to police, both from the sponsors perspective and from the players.

Could you imagine a scenario where , let’s say, Rory McIroy did play in the Rio Olympics golf tournament and won, all his suppliers, sponsors, partners etc would want to congratulate him. But get it wrong and Rory could ultimately be missing from the medal podium!

It gets worse.

Of course this weekend is the US PGA Championship at Baltusrol. Because of these constraints, and the list of banned words. Many of the supporting golf brands are unable to publicly wish some of their players good luck in a golf tournament because of Rule 40 which is dictated by another sporting body overseeing another event, taking place at a different time/date and on a different continent.

It’s a proverbial minefield. So you can see why some players might find it easier to make an excuse and move on.

Editor Update:

Henrik Stenson posted this on Facebook whilst at PGA Championship – seems that he is definitely trying to follow the protocol:
henrik stenson olympics social media lockdown

End Editor Update

The Official Olympic website is still ever hopeful, these words are still on the Rio Olympics Golf page:

Why should you watch this?

In Rio, the world’s best golfers will be part of the Olympic Games for the first time in more than a century, and the lure of a gold medal is sure to attract the sport’s biggest names


Words to be avoided:

According to the IOC, “Olympic-related terms” include the following, depending upon context:


Rio/Rio de Janeiro














While “Olympic listed terms or expressions” include:




Olympic Games



The Olympic motto “Citius – Altius – Fortius” (which is Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger) and any translation of it.

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