Julia Marino breaks IOC sponsorship rules
BEIJING — The Olympic Games protect their sponsors. In Beijing you will see lots of Coke and Visa logos, but no Pepsi or American Express anywhere. The IOC goes so far as to put pieces of black tape over the logos of non-sponsor cars used as Olympic taxis and non-sponsor toilets used as Olympic toilets. You just don’t put yourself between the Olympics and the smooth, steady flow of sponsor money.
Snowboarder Julia Marino, a silver medalist in slopestyle, learned that lesson the hard way ahead of Monday’s big air competition. Marino uses a board with a large Prada logo on it, and it didn’t sit well with the IOC, who forced her to cover up the logo or risk disqualification.
Marino took to his Instagram page, noting in a story, “For anyone asking, the day before the big air I was told by the IOC that they no longer endorse my board even though (sic) they are boarding it. approved for the slope. They told me I would be disqualified if I didn’t cover the logo and made me literally draw on the base of my board with a sharpie.
The IOC, Marino said, argued that Prada’s sponsorship violated IOC Rule 40, which governs the sponsorships an athlete can endorse during the Games. Marino was already covering the Prada logo on his helmet while winning silver, and now the IOC was asking him to color the logo on the board.
At the Olympic level, even the smallest changes count, and Marino said the marked board felt unfamiliar under his feet.
“For those who don’t know,” Marino wrote, “the bottom of the board is important to your speed and not supposed to have anything but wax, marker and stuff on the bottom will against the objective.”
Marino said the board “felt uncomfortable” and after feeling “unstable” in practice, she dropped out of the event to avoid further injury.
“I fell in the jump to see how the tailbone felt after taking a slam the other day in practice and after my base (was) changed I had no speed for the jump and I couldn’t clear it multiple times,” she wrote. “I just felt physically and mentally drained from this distraction and the slam I went through. I was super excited about what I had done on the slope, my main event, and decided not to risk it. other injuries even though (sic) it didn’t seem to be the IOC’s top priority.
USOPC Vice President Dean Nakamura appealed the decision to the IOC, saying covering the logo would change the core characteristics of the board.
“[C]covering up the logo is not a feasible option,” Nakamura wrote. “The logo is molded onto the board and changing it would cause drag and interrupt the surface intended for sliding… [W]We ask the IOC to reconsider its position and allow Julia Marino to use the board used during the Slopestyle snowboard competition. The appeal was dismissed.
At least Marino went home with a medal…and a good, albeit painful, story of why she didn’t have a second chance.