Visual of the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony which took place on July 23, 2021 without spectators (Image: AP)
While the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has seen a 40 percent jump in sponsorship money for the ongoing Tokyo Olympics, revenues could have doubled as compared to the 2016 Rio Olympics had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Neerav Tomar, MD and CEO, IOS Sports, a sports marketing firm that looks at getting such deals for the association, the sponsorship revenue would have been higher if things were normal and if Tokyo Olympics would have happened as planned.
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The Summer Olympic Games happening in Tokyo were scheduled for 2020 and had to be postponed due to rising cases of COVID-19 across the world.
And the uncertainty due to coronavirus pandemic made many brands unsure about associating with the event which made things difficult in terms of closing sponsorship deals.
"Last year when we started our talks (with brands), the delay was already announced and then we come to 2021 March and India hits lockdown. With so many tragedies all around, no brand wanted to even talk about Olympics. Plus, everyone was quite sure that [Tokyo] Olympics will not happen especially after a big event like the Indian Premier League (IPL) getting suspended. So, brands did not wake up till June and all the 13-14 sponsorship deals for IOA were closed in the last 40-45 days," Tomar told Moneycontrol.
Compare this with the Rio games, deals were closed two months before the event started.
Tomar further said that they got sponsorship deals for IOA as late as on the opening ceremony day of the Tokyo Olympics. It was Adani Group that got on board on the opening ceremony day.
Other sponsors like SFA Pvt. Ltd., JSW Sports will pay IOA Rs 1 crore each and another sponsor MPL has confirmed sponsorship of Rs 8 crore. Amul will be paying Rs 1 crore for a period till December 31, 2021.
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Along with closing sponsorship deals in times of COVID-19, which Tomar says was an uphill task, there were also issues in delivering.
"A sponsor wants shoots with athletes. They want photos and videos, among others. And all of this was difficult due to COVID-19 protocols and athletes being in bio-bubbles."
Yet, IOA has been able to see significant growth in sponsorship revenues for Tokyo Olympics as compared to Rio when the association had around Rs 12 crore from eight sponsors.
This is why Tomar suggests that there being from no market in terms of sponsorship for Olympics, India has seen the space become significantly large.