There was some doubt about the Lithuanian basketball legend's accreditation because of a ban on using the name and image of athletes, coaches or officials participating in the Olympic Games for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games. The so-called Rule 40 blackout period began nine days before the opening ceremony.
Lidl, which is not an Olympic sponsor and and is a competitor to the retail chain Maxima, a sponsor of the Lithuanian National Olympic Committee (LNOC), did not suspend its advertising campaign which features Sabonis.
Lawyers explained that the Olympic Charter rules do not apply to Sabonis.
"Arvydas Sabonis is not going to the Rio Olympics as a competitor, team official or other team personnel in the sense of Rule 40(3) of the Olympic Charter and, therefore, this rule does not apply to him," Lidl Lietuva said in its response to the LNOC.
Daina Gudzinavičiūtė, head of the LNOC, told BNS that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) agrees with these arguments and has given its approval for the accreditation of Sabonis, who is currently in South America together with Lithuania's national basketball team.
Without such accreditation, Sabonis would have to pay to enter the games and would have restricted access to athletes, she explained.
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