Toyota may not renew its Olympic sponsorship; other sponsors' return uncertain

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SALT LAKE CITY — The International Olympic Committee may be losing a big sponsor.

Toyota, which signed on with the Olympic committee in 2015 as one of 15 worldwide sponsors in what's known as The Olympic Partners, will not renew its contract after the 2024 Summer Games in Paris, according to Kyoto News. The Japanese company was the first automaker at the top tier of Olympic sponsors.

"Some people at Toyota have been dissatisfied with how sponsorship money is handled as they believe it is not used effectively to support athletes and promote sports," the Japanese news service said, citing unnamed sources. The Associated Press said the deal was valued at $835 million and covered four Olympics, including the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, delayed a year by COVID-19.

The details of Toyota's contract with the Olympic committee have not been made public, but Kyoto News said the company's total spending has likely hit more than 100 billion yen, or about $637 million. At the Paris Olympics, billed as the greenest ever, Kyoto News said Toyota is expected to provide over 3,000 vehicles, including its Mirai hydrogen-fueled electric car.

The news comes as four other partner sponsors — Atos, Bridgestone, Intel and Panasonic — have yet to announce if they'll continue to participate, Sports Business Journal reported, saying "many expect that at least some will not return." The list of current partner sponsors also includes Coca-Cola, VISA, Proctor & Gamble, Airbnb, Samsung and Omega.

But Sports Business Journal also pointed out, "Changes to the TOP lineup are more likely to be a normal state of flux than a mass departure, Olympic insiders said. Even if all five decided not to renew, it would not spell doom for the IOC," noting the program was expected to be limited to 10 sponsors when it started in 1985.

"We constantly have discussions with the existing partners and potential new partners," the Olympic committee's chief marketer, Anne-Sophie Voumard, told Sports Business Journal. "And really the focus for us at the moment is really working with the partners in the preparation for Paris. For the rest, watch that space."

Partner sponsorships account for about 30% of Olympic committee revenues. Along with the money made from the sale of broadcast rights with Olympic organizers, the revenues are used to help finance the Olympics, with $925 million going to the 2026 Winter Games in Milan-Cortina, Italy, and $1.8 billion to the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles, according to the Olympic committee.

Salt Lake City, the Olympic committee's preferred host for the 2034 Winter Games, received $552 million from the Olympic committee for the 2002 Winter Games out of nearly $3 billion in Olympic committee revenues raised from 2001 to 2004, including $663 million from partner sponsors for both 2002 and the 2004 Summer Games in Athens.

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