International Academic Competitions, the parent organization of the US Geography Olympiad, regrets to inform its participants, their schools, and their families that we have been forced to rename the US Geography Olympiad the US Geography Championships. This is due to the decision of the US Olympic Committee to enforce a heretofore little-known provision of the Ted Stevens Act which claims that the US Olympic Committee has the sole right to use the word “Olympiad.”
Let’s examine this a bit further…
IAC finds it particular disappointing that the US Olympic Committee, which has faced numerous scandals of late has nevertheless decided to prioritize the enforcement of this provision, which it had not done for many years. Furthermore, while the Olympic movement is worldwide in scope, only the USOC seems to care about the use of the term “Olympiad” in reference to academic olympiads. Not a single other national Olympic committee that we know of enforces a prohibition on their countries’ respective national academic olympiads. After all, there’s a Canadian Geography Olympiad, Hong Kong Geography Olympiad, Russian Geography Olympiad, and many more. Keep in mind that this also prohibits the other international Olympiads (i.e. the world championship level events for each subject such as the International Geography Olympiad, International History Olympiad, International Chemistry Olympiad, etc.) from ever taking place in the USA. This represents a loss to the American economy and a loss of prestige to America and American students on the international stage.
Meanwhile IAC offered to do any or all of the following in exchange for having the US Olympic Committee consent to us continuing to use the term Olympiad:
-Send a donation to Team USA athletes each year
-Offer to partner with the USOC to launch a new program whereby small businesses and non-profits could become official sponsors instead of just large corporations
-Give Team USA a platform on our websites and at our events to promote Team USA athletes, sign up new supporters, and reach hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, family members, and other people who would be keen on supporting American athletes
The response of the USOC was to ignore these suggestions, and insist that they need to do this to protect its trademark. However, it’s difficult to see how one would confuse academic competitions with the Olympics, or envision that American athletes are being put at a disadvantage by the use of the term Olympiad in respect to academic competitions. We thus hope that the USOC drops its opposition to this policy as soon as possible and instead returns to focus on its mission of protecting and supporting America’s athletes, rather than denigrating the academic achievements of America’s top young students.