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Olympic Committee launches Federal Court action against Telstra ambush

The Australian Olympic Committee has launched Federal Court action against its former long term sponsorship partner Telstra in a bid to stop it ambushing the Rio games, saying the telco was trying to “deceive Australians”.

Telstra RIo OlympicsThe AOC said it needed to stand up for its rights after Telstra launched a campaign promoting the Olympics app on the Seven Network using the Peter Allen hit, I Go to Rio.

Telstra was forced to pull the ads earlier this week but then relaunched them with disclaimers stating it was not associated with the games or the AOC after threats from the AOC.

However the amendments were not enough and the AOC launched the action in the Federal Court on Friday with a directions hearing fast tracked to be heard on Monday and the full hearing expected later in the week.

“The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) relies on commercial partners to fund the Olympic Teams that represent our country at the Olympic Games, Olympic Winter Games and Youth Olympic Games,” the AOC said in a statement.

“Without them, we would not be in a position to send 410 athletes to the Olympic Games in Rio. Commercial partners also help the AOC promote Olympic values and programs throughout the country on a year-round basis.

“Unfortunately, some companies try to mislead the Australian public into believing they support the Australian Olympic Team or have an involvement with the Olympic Movement when they don’t.”

The AOC went on to say that the ambush was disappointing coming from a company that had supported the ideals of team sponsorship for so long in the past.

“In 2015, Telstra and the AOC mutually decided not to continue their long standing partnership. It is therefore extremely disappointing to witness Telstra’s ‘I go to Rio’ marketing campaign which the AOC regards as a clear attempt to deceive Australians,” it said.

“Despite repeated attempts for cooperation, today the AOC has been left with no choice but to seek appropriate legal measures in the Federal Court. To be clear, Telstra is not a sponsor of Australia’s Olympic Team and has no official role with the Olympic Movement.”

It said the the legal challenge was also to support its sponsors, including its new telco partner Optus.

“The AOC is grateful for the support of its true, valued Partners and defends its right to protect them, as well as the Worldwide Olympic Partners secured by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). They help Australia’s Olympic Team achieve their dreams in Rio, where Australian Olympians will continue to contribute to our country’s 120-year heritage at the Olympic Games.”

In a statement Telstra said it had responded to the AOC’s concerns and was merely promoting a commercial arrangement with Seven.

“Telstra has an existing commercial partnership with the Seven Network. Our current advertising simply promotes that commercial arrangement and that Telstra customers get free access to premium content through the Seven app,” a Telstra spokesperson said.

“The AOC raised concerns with us and so we updated our advertising to include an explicit statement that Telstra is not an official sponsor of the Olympic Games, any Olympic Committees or teams. As the matter is now before the courts there is no further comment we can make at this time.”

Mumbrella is seeking comment from the Seven Network, which is the official broadcaster of the Games which start in 20 days.

Mumbrella’s Sports Marketing Summit features a session on How to Crash the Olympics and Not Get Sued. It takes place on Thursday, July 28. See the full program and get your tickets here. 

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