Panasonic extended its global Olympic sponsorship through '24, making it the first of the IOC's TOP sponsors to sign a deal beyond '20. Financial terms of the deal were not available. TOP deals are typically valued at more than $100M over four years, which would make Panasonic’s deal worth more than $200M. Panasonic on Thursday held an official signing ceremony for the extension in Sochi. The agreement comes six months after Tokyo was awarded the '20 Games. Panasonic, which is headquartered in Osaka, Japan, was interested in supporting the Olympics in its home country, and the IOC was able to leverage that interest to secure a long-term deal. “As a Japanese company with a long, global Olympic experience, I’m sure [the sponsorship] will be of great assistance, in particular for the organization of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” IOC Marketing Committee Chair Gerhard Heiberg said in a statement. The deal is the first the IOC has signed beyond the '17-20 quadrennium. The organization’s other TOP sponsors are signed up through '20. The IOC remains in renewal conversations with Samsung, which has a deal through '16. Until signing with Panasonic, the IOC had capped its sponsorship extensions until '20. It did so in order to allow it to negotiate a new revenue sharing agreement with the USOC. The IOC and USOC signed a new revenue sharing agreement in '12, curtailing the amount of new sponsorship revenue the USOC receives. The IOC also had planned to reevaluate its TOP program after '20, as it was considering changing the way the program is structured and increasing the price of sponsorships. Heiberg, who will step down from the Marketing Commission after Sochi, said last week that his successor would make those decisions and suggested changes could be introduced as soon as '21. But the deal with Panasonic appears to push potential changes back until '25. Panasonic is providing the SOCOG with LED displays, TVs and the largest supply of security cameras in the history of the Olympics. Unlike the '10 Vancouver and '12 London Games, it does not have a showcase pavilion in Sochi’s Olympic Park.
Russia said on Thursday that its Sochi Olympics "were as safe as any place in the West from militant attacks after Washington warned airports and some airlines that toothpaste tubes could be used to smuggle bomb-making materials onto a Russia-bound plane," according to Mike Collet-White of REUTERS. Russian forces "are on high alert over threats by Islamist militant groups based in the nearby north Caucasus to attack the Winter games, which begin on Friday." Twin suicide bombings "killed at least 34 people in December in Volgograd." Deputy PM Dmitry Kozak, speaking on the eve of the Opening Ceremony, told journalists that "Russian security services were working with colleagues from Europe and North America." Kozak: "There is no reason to believe that the level of danger in Sochi is greater than at any other point on the planet, be it Boston, London, New York or Washington. We can guarantee the safety of people as well as any other government hosting any mass event." U.S. President Barack Obama has said that he believed Sochi was safe," but behind the scenes there has been tension between Russian and U.S. officials, including over concerns that the host nation might react with excessive force in the case of an attack and endanger civilian lives" (REUTERS, 2/6). REUTERS' Keith Weir reported British Olympic Association Chair Sebastian Coe said that "Olympic boycotts are absurd and serve no political purpose," while reflecting on the Cold War era when he won his two Gold Medals. Coe said that "such protests were futile and hurt athletes." Coe: "They are absurd. They fly in the face of any sensible political judgment. Certainly at an Olympic level they have never remotely achieved what they set out to do other than to penalize the competitor" (REUTERS, 2/6).
RIO PRESSURE: REUTERS' Karolos Grohmann wrote pressure on the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics "continued to mount" when the IOC said on Thursday that "the city had no more time to waste and needed to win over the hearts of the Brazilian people." Rio organizers have yet to start construction on their second Olympic park in Deodoro while IOC VP & Coordination Commission Head Nawal El Moutawakel said that "there were still outstanding issues related to government support." Moutawakel: "Significant and tangible progress has been made. But constant supervision and assistance will be required over the coming months" (REUTERS, 2/6).
OLYMPIC TRUCE: U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addressed the IOC session in advance of the Sochi Games. Ban renewed his call for all the warring parties worldwide to observe the Olympic Truce and "to lay down their weapons during the Games -- and to lift their sights to the promise of peace" (IOC).
FOR ALL AGES: REUTERS reported FIFA President Sepp Blatter wants the IOC to scrap its age limits for members, saying that "they should be voted out only if they are incapable of performing their duties." The 77-year-old Blatter, who has been an ex-officio IOC member since '99 following his election to the FIFA presidency a year earlier, "has yet to decide whether he will run for another term" (REUTERS, 2/6).
The World Anti-Doping Agency said it is ''totally outrageous'' that a Russian scientist reportedly offered to sell a seemingly potent and undetectable new muscle-building drug to undercover journalists, according to the AP. German broadcaster WDR said that "a scientist at the renowned Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow offered to sell the substance, known as full size MGF, to undercover reporters" (AP, 2/5). The BBC's Richard Conway wrote the drug "is said to develop muscles at twice the natural rate." The reporter for German broadcaster WDR, which aired a program on the issue this week, was told it would cost €100,000 ($135,000) to "prepare" an athlete for the Winter Olympics (BBC, 2/6). In London, Owen Gibson wrote WADA "has warned that around a quarter of all the pharmaceuticals in the world are sold on the black market, in the wake of claims about the availability of an undetectable new muscle growth drug." WADA Dir General David Howman said it was "outrageous but not surprising." Howman: "We are aware the black market exists for products in the R&D process for medical companies and are being stolen." WADA "has worked with pharmaceutical giants for some years in order to gain advance knowledge of drugs in development and to warn them when drugs in testing become available on the black market" (GUARDIAN, 2/5).
Australian businessman Jaimie Fuller, who promoted a global campaign to clean up cycling, "has now turned his attention to the Olympics in Russia," according to Jacquelin Magnay of THE AUSTRALIAN. Fuller said that he was "disappointed that the ideals of the Olympics were being sold out to commercial and political interests." Fuller also "called on sponsors and other business partners to have a conscience and hold the Olympic masters to account." Fuller has started a social media campaign that "juxtaposes values of the Olympic movement against the actions of Olympic officials." Fuller: "I will release one example every day of the Games. We want to show what is going on in Russia at the moment overlayed by a quote from the Olympic officials which conflicts with the image" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/7).
The Olympic Broadcasting Service will provide more than 1,300 hours of live coverage from the Sochi Olympics "for an expected worldwide television audience of 1.5 billion" (XINHUA, 2/6). ... The National Olympic Committee of Cambodia "will host a four-day Sport Media Seminar" for 25 journalists from local media organizations beginning Feb. 18 at the NOCC headquarters (PHNOM PENH POST, 2/6).