Josef Craig Draws DQ at IPC European Champs For Olympic Rings Tattoo

A swimmer in warmups at the Mesa Pro Swim Series sports an Olympic Rings tattoo. Photo Courtesy: Kara Sekenski

A number of records fell at yesterday’s opening day of the 2016 IPC European Championships, but one swimmer was kept out of competition because of his tattoo.

Josef Craig has a tattoo of a lion and the Olympic Rings on his left chest. The 19 year old, who has cerebral palsey, was disqualified for the Rings tattoo after the prelims of the S8 100 freestyle.

The Olympic rings tattooed on Craig’s body are the property of the International Olympic Committee and cannot be used without prior consent from the IOC. The IPC states, “Body advertisements are not allowed in any way whatsoever (this includes tattoos and symbols).”

Craig earned his rings after winning gold and breaking world records at the 2012 Paralympic Games when he was only 15.

Provided he covers the rings, Craig will be eligible for his S8 400 freestyle today.

Read The Swimmers Daily report on the matter here.


  1. Jamie Fuse

    That is the stupidest thing ever…… I swear everyone is out to get people these days.

  2. So. If you win a metal at the Olympics & you want to get a tattoo of the rings you have to get their permission first?

  3. avatar

    They better start DQing everyone then. There a lot of swimmers out there with Olympic Rings on them. A LOT!!!

  4. avatar

    They should bring back an old American tradition for these officials: tarring and feathering.

    • avatar

      The officials are only enforcing the rules. It’s no different than having 2 manufacturer’s logos on a suit. Don’t make the officials out to be the bad guys, they are just doing their job. They didn’t make the rules. If you’re going to be upset with someone, be upset with the rules committee.

      • avatar

        If the officials at the London Olympics can ignore the rule about only one dolphin kick off the wall in the Men’s 100 breaststroke, the officials at this meet can use some common sense and not enforce this rule against a kid with brain damage.

        It reminds me of the USA Swimming officials I saw DQ a 12 kid with Down Syndrome twice because his butterfly was a little off. Special place in hell waiting for them.

        But, I’m all for tarring and feathering the IOC too since it is the probably the one who will scream if the rule isn’t enforced. Maybe we could just make them swim in the water at Rio for a few hours every day during the Olympics.

  5. Gordon Belbin

    This sets an interesting and crazy precedent. How many swimmers will have this tattoo at the Olympics?

  6. avatar
    Laura Casey

    Olympic swimmers like Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte have the Olympic rings tattoo so it makes no sense to DQ him let him swim

  7. Stavros Michaelides

    Having an Olympic Rings tattoo is a sign of accomplishment
    ( you either made it to the games or won a medal there) it’s like the mark of a fraternity or a brotherhood that in my opinion is one of the biggest promotions of the Olympic Games
    What will happen in Rio, when most of the repeat Olympians already have a tattoo like that? Disqualify everyone?
    Come on people get a grip! Fight the cheaters and the dopers instead!

    • Holly Barker

      What the hell?? This is crazy! Arkady Vyatchanin, can they seriously do this??

    • Brittany Mathews

      I mean my thing is those athletes (and I mean all not just our swimmers) have busted their asses to make it to the Olympics & those rings tattooed on their skin is a testament to the hard work they’ve put in and how it’s paid off!! If this is going to become a thing then the IOC and any other organization who has an issue with this will have an issue with me!!

    • Arkady Vyatchanin

      Holly, this is some heavy BS! I especially hate how the rings are called “a corporate logo”. Simple logic tells us what is the main goal of the IOC these days. I’m pretty sure that my generation will see how The Games will become a joke. Greed and abuse of power will destroy another good thing.

    • Holly Barker

      Very well said, Arkady. It’s so sad how money is winning out over pretty much everything else in life. I know quite a few of the boys on the US team have the rings tattooed. Does this mean they will face the same punishment?

    • Arkady Vyatchanin

      Holly, I’m sure we’re thinking about the same people here. I sincerely hope that no one will face any sort of punishment for having their tattooed Olympic Rings exposed at the sporting events anywhere in the world. That just doesn’t make any sense! I must say that I’m loosing hope the Olympic Movement pretty quickly.

  8. Jayne Zenaty Spittler

    Anne Liles Lawley What’s your take? Is this a Paralympics/IPC thing? Rules are somewhat different, yes?

  9. avatar
    Nick Thoman

    This is absolutely ridiculous, I wear my rings with pride. It was a lifelong journey to make the Games, and an athlete should not be punished for something that a lot of Olympic athletes have put on our bodies. An absolute injustice to this athlete and not in the spirit of the sport.

  10. James Hooper

    You’ve got to be kidding me.

  11. avatar

    I don’t understand… Are they planning on disqualifying all swimmers with the rings showing?

  12. Nancy Pulham

    The article states that if you have prior consent from the Olympic committee then it’s ok to have the Olympic rings tattoo. I’m fairly certain that they would be more than happy for Micheal Phelps to promote the Olympics 🙂

  13. avatar
    Scott dempsey

    The IPC states, “Body advertisements are not allowed in any way whatsoever (this includes tattoos and symbols).”
    – was he getting paid to display the rings and that’s why was deemed to have violated that rule? seems like a misapplied rule, at best…won’t mention other possibilities since I don’t have insight to situation.

  14. Tessa Wartnaby

    Lauren Forsyth so many people getting DQed from tattoos. Good no one gonna see ours

  15. Brian Battensby

    Dozens of Olympians have the rings tattooed on their bodies, what a crazy rule.

  16. Laurie Black

    This is an IPC swimmer with IPC swimming rules. Read the IPC rulebook to understand the violation.

  17. avatar

    I see Cal swimmers with Olympic rings tattoos on a regular basis. Did they all get written permission?

    Maybe the IOC should have a tattooist on hand and everyone who is in the Olympics gets an “official” tattoo.

    • avatar

      I’m sure the IOC is open to bribery on this, just like it is when bids for Olympic cities are made.

  18. avatar

    I think, rereading this, that the IOC doesn’t want the rings seen on swimmers at an event other than the Olympics so they might not enforce the rule there, but might have a hissy fit at their being seen at other meets. At least not international ones. It’s fairly typical of the absurdity of the modern bureaucratic state, where pretty much everything is against some rule or another.

  19. avatar

    The IPC continues to prove that they are far more invested in their rules (regardless of how ill-conceived) than their athletes. They defend a classification system that clearly has flaws since athletes receive different judgements depending upon their classifiers. Lives are made and ruined by the inconsistency of classifiers with no medical background making medical assessments. Certain organizing committees manage to push through questionable athletes while others are deemed “classed out” when they clearly have a well-documented history of disability. And then, of course, we have the old rules and the new rules. There is no level playing field between the two.
    Defend your athletes, IPC, like you do your classifiers and your errant rules!
    The Olympic rings belong to history and the athletes. They represent peace and mankind’s commonalities. They represent greatness and achievement. Lest we not forget that Paralympic athletes are supported by their countries Olympic Committees. IPC competitions might be the only competitions in the world that disallows representation of these great rings.
    The IPC could have provided Mr. Craig with a strip of tape, rather than disqualify him.
    Have they lost sight of the fact that every legitimate Paralympic athlete is an individual who has made the best of adversity. These athletes have suffered pain, ridicule, and obstacles their whole lives. One would think the IPC would be focused on protecting and elevating these athletes. One would think the IPC would advocate for their athletes over everything else. After all, the Paralympic Movement is not about Sir Philip Craven or any other official of the IPC, it is about the brave athletes who have suffered so much in life already and sacrifice even more to be elite disabled athletes. The movement is nothing without the athletes.
    As an organization, you have isolated yourself and are totally out of touch with your athletes and how you are perceived by reasonable people throughout the world. The organization holds back the movement. Shame on the IPC.
    Congratulations, Josef Craig, on all that you have achieved. Wear your rings proudly. You earned them.

  20. Alison Miller

    Bearing in mind he didn’t get an Olympic medal but a Paralympic medal, and the tattoo wasn’t the Paralympic symbol. He is indeed advertising another organisation.
    That said its petty.

  21. Alison Miller

    Besides European champs seems to be screwing everyone over this year, especially the masters.

  22. Marie Kissinger

    This seems an odd interpretation of 102.8 in the USA Swimming Handbook. Yes the rings are the trademark / logo of the games, but they are not selling anything other than the desire for achievement. No one I know looks at the Olympic rings in the same way you would look at say the Speedo logo; it’s not hey he wears Speedo and I want to be like him so I’ll go buy me some Speedo. It’s hey he worked his butt off and went to the Paralympics. It will be interesting if a clarification on this rule comes out after this DQ, and before this summer’s Olympic games.

  23. avatar

    How many of you who are bashing the officials are or have been officials? I have been an official for swimming for over 25 years. The overwhemajority of the officoals I have worked with over the years, are only enforcing the rules that have been put before them. Right or wrong, that is what they are supposed to do, and is what I do. I continue to try to change rules to take out the rules which really don’t affect the performance of the swimmer, or give the swimmer an advantage.

    I agree the tattoo issue seems to be petty, but it is still a rule, and we as officials must enforce them.