Delayed a year due to COVID-19, today’s Opening Ceremony will mark the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (originally scheduled for July 24, 2020). A historically reliable and brand-safe event, the Olympics continue to be a major draw for sponsorships. Despite early turbulence, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be no different. This year, Coca-Cola, Toyota, Visa, Airbnb, and Samsung are among the more than 60 “worldwide partners” (the highest sponsorship tier), and the entire list can be found here.

Worldwide partners typically sign multiyear deals with the Olympic Games, with a four-year sponsorship starting around $200 million. While brands participating in the Tokyo Games have come to expect the unexpected – including the Japanese Government’s recent decision to ban spectators – they are finding new ways to engage with audiences.

While the modern understanding of sports sponsorships can be traced back to the 19th century with the creation of the baseball card (which were included in packs of cigarettes), the world of sports sponsorships and compensation continue to evolve. The Supreme Court recently sided with college athletes, affirming that the NCAA can provide student athletes unlimited education-related compensation. With former college athletes and Olympiads like Michael Phelps netting upwards of $80 million, and over 150 million people in the US watching live sports at least once a month, the future of sports media, broadcasting, and sponsorships will likely continue to grow and evolve.

Click here for live updates of the Tokyo Olympics and watch the games on NBC and its streaming platform Peacock. While the stands may be empty, fans are still expected to tune in. “It’s going to be a diminishing factor in terms of the excitement,” Chris Brandt, the chief marketing officer of Chipotle, said, “but we also hope that the Olympics are a bit of a unifier at a time when the country can seem to be so divided every day.”

And as always, if you’re interested in learning more about sponsorships or marketing as it pertains to sports or any industry, we’ve got you covered.

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