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The Legislative Solution

Where the protection provided by the contractual route to protecting sporting autonomy, which is founded on arbitration, runs out, the second available solution is to induce states to adopt or to implement the lex sportiva (in whole or in part) or, at least, to adopt concessions that protect the autonomy of sports governance. This is a legislative solution—although to the extent that the regulator might be an international organization such as the EU, it is a Treaty-based solution in so far as the autonomy desired is autonomy from the application of the primary rules of the system.

Hosting the World Cup and the Olympic Games

This strategy tends to be most conspicuously visible where large one-off events are involved. Countries which bid to host the Football World Cup or the Olympic Games are sufficiently eager to win the competition that they are commonly willing to sign contracts with the sports governing body concerned in which they offer to make concessions to the normal assumptions attached to the application and enforcement of the law. Some of these promises made to secure the right to host the major event are then typically given legal shape by legislative reform. This may typically cover enhanced protection of the intellectual property rights of the organizers of events and of other commercial interests which they hold: it may cover typically generous treatment of taxation of income.

The Olympic Games were held in London in 2012. In preparation for this event the London Olympic and Paralympic Games Act 2006 was enacted.[1] [2] The sheer scope of some of the Act’s provisions is breathtaking. So too is the extent of the protection of commercial interests and the amount of resources of the state which are placed at the service of the IOC to secure enforcement of their interests. They go far beyond what any ordinary business would expect the state to offer it in support for its normal private law rights.

The connection between the 2006 Act and the deal struck by the United Kingdom as a condition of its success in winning the right to host the 2012 Games, beating off strong competition from Paris in particular, is perfectly clear on the face of the statute. It refers explicitly to ‘the Host City Contract’, which is defined as the contract signed at Singapore on 6 July 2005 and entered into by the IOC, the Mayor of London (representing London), and the British Olympic Association.104

A corporate body named the Olympic Delivery Authority is established by the Act which has a widely drawn range of functions to acquire land, conclude construction contracts, deal with planning matters and security, and address street lighting and cleaning.105 This is not surprising. The statute also provides for the development of a dedicated Olympic transport plan for London, including powers to regulate traffic and close roads.™6 Although some controversy was created by the designation of particular routes for privileged use by IOC officials and corporate sponsors, the overall need for London’s transport network to be adapted for the special pressures of two weeks of Olympic competition seems indisputable. However, it is when the statute moves to matters of a more overtly commercial impact that the true scale of the protection for the IOC granted by the United Kingdom becomes clear. This indeed is a theme that permeates this book: sporting bodies are not purely concerned with the regulation and administration that is necessary to run the sport, but rather are also intimately involved in the commercial exploitation of the events that are staged under their auspices.

The 2006 Act has a set of provisions entitled ‘Advertising’, sections 19 to 24, and ‘Trading’, sections 25 to 31. They have much in common. In both instances it is provided that the Secretary of State is empowered to make regulations about advertising and about trading ‘in the vicinity of London Olympic events’.™7 This power is explicitly tied to the aim of securing compliance with the obligations imposed by the ‘Host City Contract’ and the Secretary of State shall have regard to ‘any requests or guidance’ from the IOC.™8 The envisaged content of the regulations is strikingly broad. They shall determine the places, nature, and definition of advertising and trading. Advertising ‘of any kind’ and ‘in any form’ is covered, in particular ‘advertising of a non-commercial nature, and announcements or notices of any kind’.109 Advertising is plainly and calculatedly not confined to a purely commercial context. Contravention of regulations is an offence punishable by a fine.1™ Enforcement powers include a power of entry on to land or premises where a contravention is occurring, and a power to remove, destroy, conceal, or erase any infringing article.m

Schedules 3 and 4 to the 2006 Act contain the provisions which set out the detailed protection of the Olympic brand. Schedule 3 protects the ‘Olympics association right’ and builds on and amends the Olympic Symbol Protection Act 1995. Schedule 4 protects the ‘London Olympics Association Right’.

The aim is to preclude use of symbols and mottos similar to those owned and used by the IOC. This covers anything sufficiently similar as to be likely to create in the public mind an association with the Olympic Games. So, for example, Schedule 4 directs that for the purpose of considering whether a person has infringed the London Olympics association right, a court may take account of combined use of the expressions ‘games’, ‘Two Thousand and Twelve’, ‘2012’, and ‘twenty twelve’: [3] [4] [5]

and gold, silver, bronze, London, medals, sponsor, and summer. Here too contravention is an offence punishable by a fine.

Regulations were duly adopted. These were the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Advertising and Trading) (England) Regulations 2011.n2 Advertising and trading within the ‘event zone’ during ‘relevant event period or periods’ was forbidden: Schedules I and II respectively defined these concepts. Some aspects of the Regulations are comically detailed. An event zone covers ‘the pavement on each side of an event road or, where there is no pavement, the land or water that is within two metres of each side of the road, but excluding the frontage of any building on that pavement or land’;[6] [7] [8] [9] [10] displaying an advertisement includes providing for an advertisement to be displayed on an animal.n4 But the powers are real enough. Use was made of them during the Games on 896 occasions, though in the majority of cases no formal action was taken: traders simply stopped doing what they were doing (whether with an animal or not).n5

The message is that the IOC has a direct commercial interest in suppressing activities that conflict with the interests of its official sponsors, but also a broader interest in suppressing forms of expression that might be politically controversial and therefore more broadly damaging to the value of its commercial model. And these considerations are given shape and legal protection by the UK statute.

  • [1] accessed 29November 2016. The 2006 Act was subsequently supplemented by the London Olympic Games andParalympic Games (Amendment) Act 2011.
  • [2] London Olympic and Paralympic Games Act 2006, s 1(3)(e).
  • [3] ibidss 3—9. 106 ibidss 10—18. 107 ibid ss 19(1), 25(1).
  • [4] 108 ibid ss 19(2), 25(2). 109 ibid ss 19(4), 19(5). lu ibid ss 21, 27.
  • [5] 111 ibid ss 22, 28.
  • [6] SI 2011/2898, available at
  • [7] accessed 29 November 2016. A separate regime was created for the other constituent elements ofthe UK
  • [8] из ibid Sch I, para 2(b). n4 ibid s 5(1).
  • [9] Department for Culture, Media, and Sport, Post Legislative Assessment (CM 8503, 2012)para 21 accessed 29 November 2016.
  • [10] ibid para 18.
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