General Rules of the Olympics


Since its formation on June 23, 1894, the International Olympic Committee has sought to foster goodwill among nations and uplift of individuals through athletic competition. The IOC's rules are a vehicle to advance these goals by promoting fairness in competition and integrity in Olympic activity. National Olympic Committees (NOC) promoting the Olympic ideal in their host nations and International Federations (IF) that represent individual sports provide an international framework for rule enforcement in conjunction with the IOC.

Age of Competitors

  • The International Federation for each individual sport is responsible for setting age limits for participation in events, though the IOC has the right to approve or veto any regulations promulgated by an International Federation. Each IF is responsible for confirming competitor eligibility. Violation of IF standards can result in disqualification, as was demonstrated in 2010 when the revelation of China's entry of the underaged He Kexin in the 2008 women's gymnastics competition resulted in China's team being stripped of their medals.


  • The IOC requires competitors to adhere to the World Anti-Doping Code, which provides a comprehensive list of substances and practices banned from use in international athletics. The NOC that enters a competitor is responsible for ensuring that she abides by the code and under the Olympic Charter, any athlete who violates the code can be stripped of any medals won and disqualified from future Olympic competition.

Host City Selection

  • The host city is selected seven years before the scheduled games by the Session, the IOC's annual gathering of officials. Candidate cities must first be approved by their country's NOC and their formal application must be submitted by city officials. The Session appoints an evaluation committee, which determines the suitably of the nominated cities for hosting the Olympic Games. When the final list of candidate cities has been drafted, the members of the Session cast their votes.

Nationality of Competitors

  • Competitors must be citizens of the country whose NOC enters them into competition. A competitor holding dual citizenship may represent either country in which he's a citizen, but is barred from representing the other country in future Olympic competition until three years have passed since they represented their original country of choice. If an competitor's nationality is contested, the IOC Executive Board holds sole authority for resolving the dispute.

Olympic Symbol Use

  • The IOC has sole discretion over the use of the Olympic symbol. Any use of the Olympic symbol in the creation of an emblem requires design approval from the IOC. An NOC is permitted to use the Olympic symbol in non-profit Olympic promotion activities. When the Olympic symbol is licensed for commercial use, the NOC of the licensee's country must receive half of the licensee's net income after taxes and expenses from the licensed product.

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