US athletes launch Twitter campaign against sponsor ban

PTI London | Updated on July 31, 2012

Sanya Richards-Ross and a host of US stars have launched a Twitter protest against the International Olympic Committee rules banning sponsor promotions around the Olympics to protect IOC backers.

“I am honoured to be an Olympian but We Demand Change,” was the phrase tweeted by numerous athletes to protest Rule 40, the IOC directive banning athletes from appearing for personal sponsors during the timing of the Games.

“We definitely don’t want to start a war,” Richards-Ross said on Monday. “I’m definitely not forecasting more Twitter revolts or an uprising of the athletes.”

But the Jamaican-born sprint star, trying for double gold at 200m and 400m, said the Internet campaign was only the start of actions aimed at backing the people who fund their gold medal quests when the world is not paying attention.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have said the start but we wanted to get the issue out there,” she said. “We just wanted to do something to get our voices heard.

“We’re campaigning about the bigger issue — the Olympic ideal and the Olympic reality are now different.

“Six billion dollars is trading hands around these Games while so many of my peers are struggling to stay in the sport. It’s a global issue and it’s an issue that is important to us. This is our only platform.”

Others backing the move include Doc Patton, Nick Symmonds, Dawn Harper, Leo Manzano, Lashinda Demus, Lauryn Williams, Khadevis Robinson, Jessica Cosby, Ryan Whiting, Brad Walker, Doc Patton, Trey Hardee and Aries Merritt.

Some have been forced to take down photographs of their shoes from Facebook sites. Others are unable to tweet about their sponsor deals at this time or they face expulsion from the Olympics as well as financial penalties.

Published on July 31, 2012

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