Olympics And The Church: What You Can and Can’t Do

As July 27th quickly approaches many churches will take advantage of this time to do Olympic themed series and events. This can be an awesome way to use a cultural event to spring off from. But this is also a place that many churches get themselves into trouble.

As I sat in programming meetings we decided to do this very idea, to play off the Olympics for our summer series. However, this brought up many questions about what we could and could not legally do.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, nor am I a copyright consultant. Please consult your lawyer for definitive answers on this subject.

Words, phrases and logos you can not use:

  • The Olympic Symbol(rings)
  • The Paralympic Symbol
  • The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Emblems
  • The London 2012 mascots
  • The word ‘London 2012’
  • The words ‘Olympic’, ‘Olympiad’, ‘Olympian’ (and their plurals and words very similar to them – eg ‘Olympix’
  • The words ‘Paralympic’, ‘Paralympiad’, ‘Paralympian’ and their plurals and words very similar to them – eg ‘Paralympix’
  • The Olympic Motto: ‘Citius Altius Fortius’ / ‘Faster Higher Stronger’
  • The Paralympic Motto: ‘Spirit in Motion’
  • london2012.com (and various derivatives)
  • The London 2012 sports pictograms

Find a full list and information on London’s Olympic site and the official Olympic website.

There are a few exceptions to these rules but churches do not apply for any of them. You can write in to get consent, but this late in the game and since these brands are so highly protected I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Also you may not use any video, images or audio used in TV broadcasts, NBColympics.com or The Official Olympic websites without written permission. This includes the use of John William’s Summon The Heros or Bugler’s Dream, composed by Leo Arnaud.

What you can do

So at this point you might be asking “What can I do?” The answer, Get creative! We ended up going with “Summer Games” (not that creative I know) as our title. I also ended up going with a logo very similar to the NBC version of the London logo.

Normally I don’t get this close to ripping of others ideas but I wanted to learn the new 3d tools in After Effects CS6 and I wanted people to associate it with the Olympics without putting the rings (or any variation) of them in my design.

Media you can use

Tomorrow I will give you a list of Olympic styled media that you can by and use in your church or for your events without worry!

Are you doing an Olympic themed event or series?

3 Responses


Here's a good suggestion for more ideas from the infamous creation swap: http://www.creationswap.com/media/11677


Here are videos, motions and more that are legal and not trademarked for use during the Olympics. God Bless! https://www.churchmediatoday.com/olympics.html


I know this post is pretty old now. But I wanted to mention that those copyright rules apply to using the words/logos/etc "in the course of trade," as mentioned by this very similar article: http://www.shoosmiths.co.uk/client-resources/lega… . Obviously if you are using the words in a context like this very article, it's fine.

I'd like to know more about what constitutes "the course of trade" in a church or ministry setting. Seems like there's quite a bit of gray area.

Leave Your Response

* Name, Email, Comment are Required