Toyota set to end massive Olympic sponsorship deal; unhappy over how IOC spent funds: report

by May 28, 2024Featured Article, News

Vehicle manufacturer Toyota is set to end its massive sponsorship deal with the International Olympic Committee after this year’s Paris Olympics, according to reports in Japan.

Toyota has a contract through the 2024 Paris Games, which was reported to be valued at $835 million when it was announced in 2015. It included four Olympics beginning with the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games in South Korea and ran through Paris.

It has been widely reported to be the IOC’s largest sponsorship deal.

Citing “sources close to the matter,” Japanese news agency Kyodo said Toyota was unhappy with the way sponsorship money was used by the IOC. The news agency, quoting the sources, said the money was “not used effectively to support athletes and promote sports.”

Reached by the Associated Press, Toyota declined to comment and said financial details were private.

Toyota pulled its Olympic advertising in Japan during the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games in 2021. It said it was responding to strong public sentiment in the country against staging the Olympics and the IOC’s push to hold them.

The IOC did not comment on the reports when contacted by AP.

“We have an agreement with Toyota until the Olympic Games Paris 2024,” the IOC said. “We continue to work closely together in preparation for Paris and we look forward to bringing these plans to life.”

Toyota is supplying 3,000 fuel-cell vehicles for the Paris Games to show off its green technology.

The IOC generates 91% of its income from selling broadcast rights (61%) and sponsorships (30%).

The IOC had income of $7.6 billion in the last four-year cycle ending with the Tokyo Games. The IOC’s 15 so-called TOP sponsors paid over $2 billion in that period. The figure is expected to reach $3 billion in the next cycle.

“There’s no sports property that touches as many bases as the Olympics in truly every country,” Rick Burton, who teaches sports marketing at Syracuse University, told Associated Press. “You have high brand recognition. You just don’t have other sports properties that gives you that.”

Burton said the IOC was likely to find another vehicle brand if Toyota bows out. He said the best look would be finding a replacement quickly.

In addition to Toyota, the TOP sponsors are: ABInBev, Airbnb, Alibaba, Allianz, Atos, Bridgestone, Coca-Cola, Deloitte, Intel, Omega, Panasonic, P&G, Samsung, and Visa.

Japan officially spent $13 billion on the Tokyo Olympics, at least half of which was public money. A government audit suggested the real cost was twice that. The IOC contribution was about $1.8 billion.

The Tokyo Games were mired in corruption scandals linked to local sponsorships and the awarding of contracts. Dentsu Inc, the huge Japanese marketing and public-relations company, was the marketing arm of the Tokyo Olympics and raised a record-$3.3 billion in local sponsorship money. This is separate from TOP sponsors.

French prosecutors also looked into alleged vote-buying in the IOC’s decision in 2013 to pick Tokyo as the host for the Olympics.

Associated Press writer Yuri Kageyama contributed to this report.

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