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IOC open to hat-trick of Asian winter Olympic hosts, hails Tokyo 2020’s sponsor drive

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it is open to a third consecutive winter Olympic Games in Asia and has hailed the “extraordinarily successful” commercial programme in place for the 2020 summer Games after reporting that Tokyo has now generated close to $3bn (€2.45bn) in sponsorship revenue.

The 2018 winter Olympics commences in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Friday and will next be staged in Beijing, China in 2022. With Tokyo also due to host the 2020 summer Games, questions have been raised over the potential concentration of Asian Olympic Games during this time period with Japan also eyeing the 2026 winter Games for Sapporo.

The IOC does not employ a continental rotation policy for its major events and vice-president Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr said the glut of Asian Olympic Games would not preclude Sapporo from landing the 2026 event.

“The thing here is flexibility,” Samaranch, who also heads the IOC Coordination Commission for the 2022 Games in Beijing, said, according to the Reuters news agency when asked whether Sapporo should be excluded due to the number of Asian hosts.

“We are going to be flexible to make sure we organise the best possible Games in the best possible place for the best athletes in the world. It is not up to the executive board to exclude anybody. We are in a dialogue stage. It is not a formal process with a list of questions and answers. We will accept anybody who wants to talk to us.”

In November, the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) granted its approval for Sapporo to take part in the bidding process for the 2026 Games. The city in Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido is set to formally announce its intention to bid before March, JOC vice-president Eisuke Hiraoka said at the time.

Sapporo stepped up its efforts to land the Games after presenting a bid plan to the JOC in November 2016. Sapporo’s plans include proposals to utilise existing facilities, including sites that were used during the city’s hosting of the 1972 Games, in an effort to keep costs to between an initial target of 430 billion yen (€3.25bn/$3.77bn) and 450 billion yen.

Meanwhile, the IOC has again hailed the power of the Tokyo 2020 commercial programme, stating that sponsorship revenues have now exceeded $2.91bn, with more deals to come. This means that Tokyo 2020 has already outperformed all other Olympic Games hosts in terms of sponsorship revenue by almost three times, over two years out from the event itself.

IOC Coordination Commission head for the 2020 Games, John Coates, said: “There are 47 partners in total, 15 in tier one, 29 in tier two and three in tier three. $2.91 billion of national sponsorship and there is more to come. It is a pleasure dealing with this local organising committee.”

Hisamitsu Pharmaceutical signed up as the latest official domestic partner of the 2020 Games yesterday (Tuesday). The company has been assigned the ‘external pain relief products’ sponsorship category.

The 2012 summer Games in London generated $1.1bn in domestic sponsorship. Organisers of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro claimed the Brazilian city’s staging of the Games raised more than London, although final accounts are unclear.