IOC Confirms It Will Take ‘Common Sense’ Approach To Tattoos In Rio

In the wake of last week’s news concerning the disqualification of Josef Craig at the IPC Swimming European Open Championships due to an Olympic rings tattoo, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) reassured Rio-bound athletes that their symbolic tattoos are indeed safe.

While competing in Funchal, Portugal, Craig was deemed disqualified for his tattoo composed of a lion with Olympic rings due to the IPC rule stating that ‘body advertisements are not allowed in any way whatsoever (this includes tattoos and symbols)’. This led to speculation that other athletes with tattoos including Olympic rings would be at risk of disqualification at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

However, last Friday the IOC said this would not be the case. An IOC spokesman told the press that Olympic athletes with tattoos are “unlikely to be barred from the Rio Games.”

While any tattoos that advertise a product will need to be covered up via blank tape or patches, athletes at the main Games will be allowed to show others. (Reuters)

Said the IOC spokesman, “The [IOC] president is always excited to see athletes with the Olympic Rings. Standing alone, the Olympic Rings are a great expression of appreciation of the Olympic Games and of the Olympic values.”

“We take a common sense approach to tattoos, whatever they are,” he said of the IOC’s intentions in Rio.

As for Josef Craig, however, IPC spokesman Craig Spence indicated that the paraswimmer’s DQ would still apply at the Paralympic Games in Rio. “He would have to cover it up as he did for the remainder of the competition last week”, Spence said.

We previously reported that USA Swimming Assistant Executive Director Mike Unger indicated that Olympic ring tattoos will not pose any issues at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials next month.

“This is really an issue for the U.S. Olympic Committee, which owns the U.S. Olympic Trials – Swimming,” Unger stated. “However, we have had conversations with the USOC on this topic, and the USOC does not intend to pursue this as an issue (meaning…no DQs).”

Leave a Reply

7 Comment threads
10 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
13 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Vaughn Bryant

Maybe all those old folks who said “you’ll never be able to get a decent job with all those tattoos” could have been right.

Former Swimmer with Tattoos

I’m sick and tired of this argument- times change, there are plenty of well respected employees and employers that have tattoos. It’s not that taboo anymore to have ink on your body.

Lane Four

Speaking as one of those people who couldn’t stand tats, I admit that some look really good. But the bottom line is that the tattoos are on someone else’s body and not mine and therefore, I don’t have a vote. But I DO love the Olympic rings tattoo. It speaks volumes just seeing it.

Irish Ringer

The tattoo thing has gone way overboard. Scarring your body for life with a picture of a dragon doesn’t seem like the brightest idea to me. I can see the Olympic rings, but no fan of covering oneself like Ervin.

Former Swimmer with Tattoos

It’s a personal choice- what might not seem like a “bright idea” to you might be someone else’s dream, which you have absolutely no say in or control over, as it should be. It’s their body and their choice. I’ve got a nice decently sized tattoo that I got out of respect for my teammates and this sport.

Also, it’s not “scarring your body for life”- it’s an art form, it’s technically coverable or somewhat removable, and it’s really not a scar because it’s ink globules inserted beneath the dermal layers.

Irish Ringer

Relax, it’s an opinion. Nothing more nothing less. If a tattoo is a dream of someone I say aim a little higher. Last I checked it wasn’t very hard to get one.


Just because you can say something doesn’t mean you should.

Jeff Kuta

Usually a tattoo of the Olympic Rings means that person competed at the Olympics. Aim higher? That’s the pinnacle.


I’m sure Ervin will make note of your opinion.

Mom??? Is that you??

Irish Ringer

Yes, and make sure you honor me with a tattoo 🙂

Swim dad

Maybe the IPC official could stop being such a numpty and apply common sense …something which seems lacking here . The Olympics is probably the highest competition that any athlete aspires for …its hardly an advert just a showing of being a proud member of small band of people that are good enough to compete in that competition. If it was a massive Arena or Speedo tattoo then by all means apply the rule …

Want to take your swimfandom to the next level?

Subscribe to SwimSwam Magazine!