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Sponsorship income for 2020 Tokyo Olympics headed for record

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group shared the stage at a news conference announcing their sponsorships.

TOKYO -- The 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo are poised to bring in record sponsorship revenues as the organizing committee goes against the usual convention of one company per product category to accommodate cash-flush Japanese businesses.

     The committee opened up sponsorships in January. On Tuesday, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group brought the list of top-level contributors to 12 companies. The event has already attracted more than 150 billion yen ($1.24 billion) in sponsorships, beating the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the 2014 Sochi games.

     "With the success of Abenomics, we're probably in an environment that makes it easier for companies to lend a hand," speculated Yoshiro Mori, president of the committee.

     It is rare for companies from the host country to dominate an Olympic sponsor list. While Adidas held the rights to the sports products category in 2008 and 2012, Japan's Asics won the spot for the first time for the 2020 games.

     The 2020 committee has been working out ways to take advantage of Japanese companies' interest. Sponsors of sporting events typically have exclusive rights to their product category, making sponsorships more valuable and thus more expensive.

     But the Tokyo games are seeing exceptions to the rule. Sumitomo Mitsui and Mizuho were granted joint rights to the banking category. Similarly, rivals NEC and Fujitsu were both accommodated by splitting up their category.

     "We got the consent of the International Olympic Committee," said an official in the Tokyo committee. "It's unusual, but there could be similar cases in the future."

     For sponsors sharing categories, whether the publicity will be worth the money spent is unclear.

     Companies are likely more concerned about the risk of missing an event that comes once in a half-century than about weighing the benefits of becoming a sponsor, says Munehiko Harada, a Waseda University professor with expertise in sports management.

     Sponsorship revenue is a valuable resource. Stadium costs are expected to balloon beyond the figure stated in Tokyo's bid. Construction of new arenas is being shelved and planned events moved to existing facilities.

     "We're not satisfied with what we have," Mori said. "We want to continue actively marketing."

(Nikkei)

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