Olympic sponsors appear committed to Tokyo Games in 2021
BERLIN – Olympic sponsors appear committed to the Tokyo Games despite their postponement until 2021, which is good news for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for which they are a major source of income.
The same seems to apply for national partners of the Japanese organizers, who can also expect additional income from being able to sell merchandise
In all, 14 companies from around the world are so-called TOP sponsors of the IOC, the largest number for one Games.
Each brings in at least an estimated 200 million dollars in a four year cycle, an Olympiad, to gain exclusive advertising rights at the Games and with Olympic symbols such as the iconic five rings.
IOC president Thomas Bach said in a conference call Wednesday that the sponsors have backed the unique decision amid the coronavirus outbreak.
"We have contacted all the sponsors. We have their full support for this decision, and we will now work to implement it," he said.
"These Games are called the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Therefore, for me, it is a logical consequence that the sponsors of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 keep their rights, even if these Games are organised in 2021."
The contracts with four of the 14 sponsors end this year, including General Electric and Procter and Gamble, with solutions needed to be found for an additional year.
That also applies to the other 10 even though they have longer deals with the IOC.
Coca Cola, associated with the Olympics since 1928 and part of the first TOP programme in 1986, decades-long time-keepers Omega and credit card company Visa have all even committed until 2032.
Coca Cola has said it "fully respects" the postponement which was made in the "best interest of the health, safety and security of all."
Another TOP sponsor, South Korean electronics company Samsung, said: "We will continue to work closely with the IOC and Games organizers to ensure a safe and memorable Olympic Games. We remain fully committed to supporting the Olympic Movement globally."
How exactly things will work next year needs to be sorted out, and some sponsors may also feel the economic backlash from Covid-19, especially if the pandemic carries on for a long time.
One of the newest TOP sponsors, home-sharers Airbnb, has seen a flood of cancellations over the virus, with the Wall Street Journal saying earlier in the week Airbnb was confronted with "hundreds of millions in losses."
But Airbnb has reportedly reaffirmed its Olympic commitment.
So have local Japanese sponsors, with the Japan Times quoting a Japan Airlines official as saying: "We will continue preparing for the Games."
In Japan meanwhile organizers face additional costs for many reasons owing to the postponement, while on the other hand they can also expect additional income from their big merchandising initiative. Merchandising rights would have normally ended December 31 but will now obviously be extended.
"They have one year more of time to sell things ... I am sure this will help," the insidethegames portal quoted Swiss historian Markus Osterwalder, who has worked on Olympic issues, as saying.
It is also remains to be seen what happens to major broadcast partners such as NBC, who have spent more than 12 billion dollars for rights between 2014 and 2032, and said recently they have sold 90 per cent of their 2020 Olympics advertising space for some 1.25 billion dollars.
Contracts can likely be carried over to 2021 but the Los Angeles Times spoke of "a major blow" and "a significant financial hit" for the network.dpa